With Maryland schools opening after Labor Day next school year, youth in Prince George’s County will have a longer summer to frolic around the house playing video games, sleeping and reading books.
If children get bored, the county’s Parks and Recreation Department will try to fill that void with certain activities such as a theater camp for teens in Bowie and therapeutic recreation in Fort Washington for those with disabilities ages 13 to 21 through Sept. 1.
Kira Calm Lewis, spokeswoman for parks and recreation, said the majority of camps will end Aug. 11 because most of the staff are teachers and college students.
The county will have an additional place for youth to play basketball, use about 20 computers and participate in other activities at the newly renovated William Beanes Community Center in Suitland. The 9,100-square-foot expansion that took two years to complete added two retractable baskets and bleachers in the gym, a fitness/weight room and a multipurpose room that can divide into four separate rooms.
Williams Beanes and Kentland centers are the only two that will host a Washington Nationals STEAM Camp starting next month. The camp will explore how to incorporate science and mathematics by conducting projects and experiments through baseball. The Beanes center is also one of a few in the county with an outdoor patio.
“This is going to be a place for everybody,” James McCrae, facility director at William Beanes, said before the center’s grand opening Saturday, June 17. “I live near the neighborhood and people ask me every time, ‘When is the community center going to open?’ This is such as beautiful thing.”
Children can thank Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for the extended summer vacation after he issued an executive order last year to have all public schools start after Labor Day. Hogan said the later start date provides families time to spend together and a boost to the local and state economy.
Some school officials and education advocates disagreed and said it takes away from teacher schedules and also creates a summer-learning loss for students.
Prince George’s school board voted earlier this year on a proposed school calendar to have schools start Aug. 22, but the state’s board of education rejected it. Now the first day of school will be Sept. 6.
Summer Camp for Everyone
To keep children from the summer lull, the school system has various academic programs and activities at http://www.pgcps.org/summerschool.
The county department will work in conjunction with Whole Foods in Riverdale to offer underserved children a chance to attend summer camp for free.
Whole Foods will donate 5 percent of all pre-tax sales Thursday, June 22 to the parks department to benefit children at Shephard’s Cove Women Shelter in Capitol Heights.
Johanna Deguzman, spokeswoman for Whole Foods, said the store participated in its first “5 percent” fundraiser day in April and raised nearly $4,000 for the county’s court appointed special advocates office.
The department will offer a new, one-week summer program July 10 called “She the People” for girls ages 13 to 17 focused on politics.
According to a flyer, girls will learn about advocacy, debating and public speaking hosted at the Palmer Park Community Center. The cost is $140 for residents that includes guest speakers from county government and trips to watch local, state and national representatives in the field.
One of the department’s most popular programs, “Teen Fest,” will continue for its ninth year with its summer kickoff event Saturday, June 24 at the Ellen Linson Splash Park in College Park.
At least 500 youth ages 10 to 17 are anticipated to come out for the free event. Besides swimming, food and music, children will also learn about programs offered in the summer that include arts and crafts, safety and substance abuse.
The event leads into the eight-week “Safe Summer: Up Late? RECreate” program that starts Monday, June 26 for those ages 12 to 24, where various community centers are open from 10 p.m. to midnight. The program include basketball leagues and fashion shows.
Those interested in soccer can play once a week at two turf fields at Walker Mill in District Heights and Heurich in Hyattsville.
“It’s a great way to kick off the summer,” said Stephen Makle, youth services coordinator for parks and recreation. “It’s better for them to be in a safe environment and around positive people [versus] being on the street throwing rocks. We are very proud of this.”
For more information on the various summer programs, go to http://www.pgparks.com/parks_and_rec_home.htm.