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It’s Hard to Beat the Worth of a Good Summer Camp

Locals continue to flock area summer camp programs.

Yes, families are more careful these days in the way they spend their money as a result of the money crisis that has hit this country. But when it comes to giving their children the opportunity to experience the joys and benefits of a good summer camp, people usually find a few extra dollars in their pockets to make it work.

For most, the recollections of youth summer camp experiences – overnight or day camps - are positive ones. Camp is an opportunity to meet new friends in a mostly non-school setting, to take in new sceneries and settings and to learn how to exist without mom and dad, at least for awhile.

“Summer camp kind of brings out the fun in everyone,” said Eileen Boone, director of general programs at the Reston Community Center. “Kids have a wonderful time, [experience] lifelong memories and have lots of laughs.”

So, budget constraints or not, parents will find ways to pay for their children’s summertime camp experiences, a time in life that most people look back on with pleasure.

“It’s one of our favorite times of the year,” said Brandy Wyatt, the teen center program and summer camps coordinator at the Vienna Community Center, in regards to she and her fellow employees’ enjoyment in working with young people in camp settings. “We have seen a steady stream of people come back each year. Our camps are doing really well and are always full or pretty full.”

The Vienna Community Center, located in the heart of downtown Vienna at 120 Cherry St., is the town’s home base for youth summer camp activities. There are specialty camps, such as fencing and fishing, a Playground Camp Program (ages 6 to 11), which includes arts and crafts and games, and sports camps, which take place at either Waters Field, which is right next to the Community Center, or at other Vienna locations such as Southside Park. Sports camps include t-ball, baseball, football and soccer to name a few.

Summer camps at Vienna Community Center are run through the Vienna Parks and Recreation department. They are weekly day camps that run from June 22 through the end of August.

Camp costs in Vienna run anywhere from $100 to $500.

Wyatt said summer camp registration begins in the winter months when people are starting to look ahead and wanting to make summertime plans. She said she has seen no decline in registrations from previous years for this upcoming summer. To contact the Vienna Community Center, call 703-255-6360.

<b>ONE OF THE MORE</b> popular programs at the Reston Community Center (2310 Colts Neck Rd.) is the Road Rulz Adventure Camp, for youngsters ages 11 to 16. The Road Rulz Camp consists of various day trips in which campers enjoy anything from paint ball at the Dulles Sportsplex to trips to Bull Run Park in Manassas or Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, or a horseback ride at a local farm.

Other neat youth camps at Reston Community Center include Crafts Camps (wood work, sewing, crochet), Enrichment Camps (chess, computer, cooking, photography) and Outdoor and Fitness Camps.

The popular Reston Community Center camp programs fill up quickly, and 2009 has been no exception.

“Our registration and enrollment has really not fluctuated at all,” said Boone. “Parents have a long time to save up money for camp.

“We haven’t seen a dramatic drop in enrollment,” said Boone. “We know it’s tough out there. But people want fun things to do. We try to keep prices reasonable for our residents.”

For those who are restricted financially, the Reston Community Center has a special scholarship program in order to make sure all youngsters can enjoy a full, lively camp summer.

Google `Reston Community Center’ and check out the wonderful 2009 Summer Camps Form page. Or call them up at 703-476-4500.

<b>ATHLETIC-MINDED</b> children or teenagers often get their camp fix at local high schools where varsity coaches run their own specific-sport camps. Tom Herman, the director of student activities at McLean High School, said the McLean boys’ annual basketball camp, run by Highlander varsity head coach Kevin Roller, usually draws about 100 campers per weekly session. The girls’ camp, under the direction of McLean girls’ varsity coach Mike O’Brien, attracts about 60 campers.

Herman said it is too early yet to see how peoples’ tightened economic state will affect camp attendance at the school this summer. He said tough economic times might actually draw more people to enroll their youngsters in camps because of the overall cost effectiveness.

“They do have a good time,” said Herman, of campers.

<b>IN LOUDOUN COUNTY</b>, the popular Douglass Community Center (407 E. Market St., Leesburg), much like the community centers in Reston and Vienna, is a Mecca of leisure and recreation excitement, including its summer camp programs.

Jamie Cox, an activities programmer at Douglass, said families will do what it takes to get their children into a good summer camp program.

“I don’t think people are stepping back from doing things for their kids,” said Cox. “I’ve found, with myself being a parent, you don’t hold back on them. You do what’s best for them. It’s a [relatively] inexpensive way to keep kids busy over the summer.”

Douglass Community Center, which is an extension of the Loudoun County Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, holds summer camps for youngsters between the ages of three and 14. It runs half-day camps for both pre-school and kindergarten-through- second grade age group children. For older campers, camps include indoor volleyball camp, cheerleading and dance, and arts and crafts. There is even a Wii Camp, in which youngsters enjoy the popular make believe, computer-generated Wii community and its assortment of games and fitness programs.

The week-long Trip Camp, for elementary and middle school aged children, allows campers to enjoy a spectrum of activities, ranging from museum trips to hiking and swimming ventures, as well as amusement park excursions, horse rides and trips to the Chesapeake Bay. There is one adult supervisor for every 15 children on the trips.

Cox said the elementary aged Trip Camp usually takes in 44 campers, while the middle school group consists of about 30 children. Cost is $170 (elementary) and $180 (middle school).

The summer programs team at Douglass is aware of financial woes across the county and beyond.

“We’ve lowered some of our prices on some [camps] to keep interest alive,” said Cox. “In terms of cost-effectiveness, [summer camps] are the best deal in town.”

For more information on summer camps at Douglass Community Center, call 703-771-5913.