With school out and summer in full swing, the Town of Herndon has launched its summer programming for children promoting healthy and educational activity away from televisions and classrooms.
The Herndon Community Center "is a resource for kids to get out and be active, to have the opportunity to learn something new," said Abby Kimble, marketing specialist with Herndon's Parks and Recreation Department. "It's developing new hobbies, teaching kids new skills ... just keeping them busy and stimulated."
Programming at the newly-renovated Herndon Community Center includes an array of organized activities for children including a daily Summer Fun Camp, youth instructional athletics, day trips and arts and crafts classes such as no-bake cooking and origami.
And the new capabilities and space of the renovated Herndon Community Center — in its first summer since completion late last year — allows for even more courses for children, Kimble said.
"Now we're able to fully program ... we have really been able to expand on the number of activities we can provide," Kimble said.
A FAVORITE SUMMER activity for area children and their parents has been the daily Summer Fun Camp sessions that take place at the Herndon Community Center.
With activities ranging from day trips to the Herndon Homegrown Farmer's Market downtown to organized time participating in sports or other physical activities, it has been both an affordable and fun option for area families, Kimble said.
"There is one thing that the town has prided itself on over the years and this is having affordable opportunities to keep the community's children active," she said. The activity, available for children aged six to 11, which ranges in price from $120 to $150, ranks as much lower than the average cost of other area summer camps, according to Kimble.
And the camp's relatively short nature — five days a week for four weeks in two sessions a summer — still allows for some flexibility for other summer plans, Kimble added. "It's a great option for a family that wants to add activity to their kid's summer, but still have the chance to go on vacation," she said.
While the first session is under way, the second session doesn't begin until July 23.
The most important aspect for the more than 170 children who are enrolled in the camp each summer is the safe and monitored environment where they can socialize and have fun, said Harriet Van De Riet, director of the Summer Fun Camp.
"I really think the kids have a real chance to bond with each other," Van De Riet said. "We're keeping them busy and occupied, they're getting outside and getting fresh air and exercise and having fun, and that's what it's all about."
OTHER OPPORTUNITIES abound in Herndon for local children looking to take on new hobbies and learn new skills with their summer vacations from school, according to Kimble.
Dance and gymnastics programs for children as young as two-years-old are open to area residents and their families alongside other activities such as aquatics and basketball.
"It's just a way for them, that when they're off from school, to do something that they maybe wanted to do during the year but just didn't have the time," said Rocio Silva, a dance teacher at Herndon Community Center.
With classes covering a gamut of styles such as "baby ballerina" and hip-hop, children have the opportunity to not just learn a new style of dance, but exercise and nutritional education, Silva said.
"We discuss a lot of things, we teach the children choreography, good nutrition," she said. "And we have a performance at the end of the [two-week programs] and that is always a fun time for the students."
AND THE PROGRAMMING helps to improve the self-esteem and overall fitness of those who participate in them, according to Danielle Webb, a youth gymnastics instructor at the Herndon Community Center.
"It really builds their strength and their coordination," Webb said of her program. "In a fun way it really teaches these things and discipline ... and it's not just running, it works your whole body in different ways."
While a large number of programs exist for children throughout the summer, Kimble said that a simple family visit to the new Herndon Community Center can be a fun and active way to spend a summer day.
"The building is open and accessible year round, so if the weather's bad and the kids can't play outside, people might want to come in and go for a swim," she said. "I think everyone likes to have those opportunities to stay active with their families."