As the school year draws to a close, many parents begin to worry how they will keep their kids occupied through the summer months.  No parent wants to watch their kids spend their summers in front of the television or computer screen, but many times they don’t know what options are out there that their kids will enjoy and that will help keep them engaged and active.  Fortunately, we have found some great local ideas that both you and your kids will look forward to!

“When looking for summer activities for kids, Nebraska has a lot to offer,” says Jeff Dousharm of Tiger Rock Acadmy, “so how is a parent to decide?  The two questions on most parents’ minds for any potential activity are 1) is it safe?, and 2) will my child do/learn/experience something worthwhile?  With that in mind, there are three easy things to check in order to make your best decision.  The first is what are the qualifications of the leaders/instructors/organizers of the activity or program?  Anyone can promise you the world, but can they deliver?  The second is has the program or activity been around for a while?  Often ‘new’ programs will struggle their first time and end up learning from their mistakes.  Finally, what are your goals?  Sometimes parents just want to toss their kids into whatever program comes along, but if we don’t have goals, then it’s difficult to measure if we have accomplished what we wanted.  If we are clear on our goals, we can make sure we pick an activity with similarly aligned goals and objectives for the kids.”

“My advice for choosing activities for your kids, and not just for summer, is to shop around,” says Jody from Premier Gymnastics.  “Go into facilities, ask questions, and try to observe activities already running.  Is the facility air conditioned, is it clean, are the instructors teaching the way you want them to?  You should also try to keep in mind that the most convenient location may not mean it is the best fit for your child.  Once you look into your different options and discuss them with your child, you’ll likely find a few activities that will make the summers enjoyable, active and educational for your children.”

Summer Camps

Camps are a true classic of summer activities.  If you talk to many adults, some of their fondest memories are of attending summer camps and making new friends and trying out new activities.  There are a number of camps that you can get your kids involved in, from the traditional sleepaway camps to camps that focus on a certain activity or even planning for their future careers.

At Doodle Cakes, a ‘decorate a cake party place’, they offer a one-week summer camp on June 13th-17th that meets from 1-4 each day and includes a daily craft (always something kitchen related), daily etiquette lesson and decorating activities such as Decorate-a-Cupcake, Rice Crispy Houses or Cream Cheese Mint Creations.  “The camp provides the kids social time that creates edible art projects,” says owner Kim Gagne.  At the end of the week, kids get to celebrate in Doodle Cakes’ Rock Paradise room with a rock star theme party.  “The summer camp combines all aspects of what we do at Doodle Cakes,” adds Kim.  “Kids get to do Karaoke, cake decorating and much more into one week of fun.”

If you have a daughter who you want to explore her creative side in a summer camp or even explore future career opportunities, you should check out College of Saint Mary’s summer camps.  Some camps run all day and others are half-day options that can be paired with one another to provide a day-long experience. “We have a variety of fun and unique camps this year with many new instructors,” said Diane Proulx ’72, assistant vice president of institutional advancement and events coordinator. “With more than 15 camps available, I think there’s something for everyone!”

Examples include the ever-popular CSI: CSM returns to take participants through a week of observation, deduction, science and mystery where they will learn crime-scene investigation techniques and the science needed to solve the mysteries. Campers will practice fingerprint analysis, blood typing, and bone identification; Camp CRAZE (Career Resources and Zealous Exploration), which helps campers determine their career opportunities, FUN (Future Upcoming Nurses) and Whose Line is it Anyway (encouraging exploration of drama through theatre games, improve activities and projects that will put stars in the spotlight).

Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to foster their creativity and express themselves through prose with Creative Writing, they can tap into their desire to move and choreograph with Dance Camp or attend a variety of athletic camps.

Another fun camp that keeps kids active is the SkateDaze Summer Day Camp which will take place on May 23rd from 7 am to 5:30 pm.  The camp includes a number of fun indoor and outdoor activities, including floor hockey, limbo, skating, roller coaster and bumper cars, LazerRunner Tag, Frisbee Golf, whiffle ball, movies, kickball, board games, skating competitions and more.  If this date doesn’t work for you, SkateDaze is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 5:30 pm all summer and is the perfect place for your child (first grader on up) to play with other kids, stay active and have fun!

Summer Classes

Summer is a great time to get your child involved in a class that can help keep him or her active, improve on skills or even introduce them to a new activity they might develop a lifelong interest in.  Jody Newman of Premier Gymnastics says, “We like to be considered a ‘One Stop Shop’ for parents, offering classes to children in gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling, martial arts, dance and the latest craze, Parkour.  One of the best advantages of our summer classes is it is a great time to try out any of our programs.  During the school year Premier runs its classes on a monthly basis, however in the summer it is only by the week.  If a parent enrolls their child in a class for one week and the child does not like that activity, they are not locked in to a month commitment.  We see many families trying each of our different programs during the summer.  Then when school begins again, they know what activity they want to stick with.  Since we offer classes on a weekly basis, parents do not have to worry about family vacations as they would only enroll in the weeks they are able to.”

Tiger Rock Academy offers a summer program that has been a hit with kids for over 16 years in both Lincoln and Omaha.  Kids (or adults) can train all summer for just $149 and includes a free uniform ($50 value).  The lessons at Tiger Rock build self esteem, focus, self-discipline, anti-bullying skills, healthy lifestyles, listening skills, and of course are tons of fun!  Their program has been proven through University Studies, and the flexible schedules and nationally certified instructors make it easy to get involved.

Other Ideas

Leagues and Academies  Keeping your child active is usually one of the top concerns of parents in the summer.  You can do this and also help your child pick up on or advance his skill in a new sport by getting him involved in a league or academy at Omaha Sports Academy. The facility offers a number of programs for kids from pre-kindergarten up through high school in sports such as basketball and volleyball and a variety of little kids’ sports, as well as basketball academies for those in 3rd through 12th grade.

In addition, Omaha Sports Academy also has summer camps with themes such as ‘General Skills Basketball Camp’, ‘Kiddie Sports of All Sorts’, ‘OSA Volleyball Skills Camp’, ‘College All Stars Basketball Camp’ and more.

Getting your child involved in Omaha Sports Academy is a great way to help your child improve on skills that he or she will be using when school starts again in the fall and is also a great way to help them improve their physical fitness, coordination and agility, all while doing something they enjoy.

Bowling  Bowling is another great activity that keeps kids active and social.  Consider getting them involved in a league, have them plan regular ‘bowling socials’ with their friends or set aside a few nights a month for ‘family bowling night’.

Summer should be a fun time for your kids and stress-free for you!  By planning the proper summer activities, you can make sure your kids are safe, entertained, active and they might just learn a thing or two as well!  Have a great summer!