Ithaca Youth Bureau’s summer camp programs are making a return with some new additions as well as old favorites. The Youth Bureau offers two camps: one at Cass Park for kids ages five to eight and another at Stewart Park for ages 8-14. Liz Klohmann, executive director of the Ithaca Youth Bureau, is more than happy to see these programs come back.
Both the parks offer a full-day and a half-day option that offer a variety of activities throughout the day. Some activities include arts and crafts, swimming, boating, archery, drama, recreation and games. Along with this, the Cass Park Day Camp, which is held at the pool and rink, offers one swim lesson a day for kids. Since both camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., there is an option for parents and caregivers to drop their kids off as early as 7:30 a.m. before they go to work , Klohmann said. Both camps also have a nurse on-site.
At Cass Park Camp, after the morning swim lesson, campers rotate through a variety of activities like arts and crafts, drama and theatre, and field games. Each afternoon, after lunch, the kids have “magic circle time,” which is usually a special guest speaking to the kids or engaging them in a special performance for 30 to 45 minutes. In past years, Klohmann said, guests have included the Ithaca Fire Department (with fire trucks), local musician John Simon, and a magician.
Following this, kids can spend the rest of the afternoon in the pool or playing games on the playground. Klohmann said this allows the kids to have some fun with friends they’ve made throughout the summer.
The camp at Stewart Park offers more activities than those for the little kids camp at Cass Park.
At Stewart Park, kids can engage in activities like tennis, archery, canoeing, drama, arts and crafts, and recreation. They also bike along the Waterfront Trail. However, after lunch kids have two options as to what they want to do. Half the camp goes via TCAT bus to Cass Park to swim, while the other half stays at Stewart Park to continue engaging in the aforementioned activities.
In addition to the full day camps, there will be several half-day specialty camps. One of them is a theatre camp for kids ages four to six called “Imagine That” and a theatre camp for older kids as well. New this year is a junior golf camp, Klohmann said, which seems like a great idea since the camps for years have been offering golf lessons. Other programs include a sailing lesson partnership between the Ithaca Youth Bureau and the Cornell Sailing Center, adult-child pottery classes, open studio time for art and clay work, beginner and advanced Taekwondo classes for all ages, swimming lessons, tennis lessons, summer band and orchestra lessons, and an outdoor program called “Rocks, Ropes and More.”
Another new item this year stems from the Tompkins County Youth Services Pitch Contest. The program director of Cass Park Pool submitted a small grant application that meets some of the county’s leading youth demands. The small grant is now going to provide family swim passes to 15 families who are income-eligible. According to Klohmann, this means they are either eligible for free or reduced lunch to apply for a free summer family swim pass at the pool.
“The idea is to really help people access the pool,” Klohmann said. “Maybe they haven’t been able to, maybe they don’t have transportation to get to the pool, and to assist with that we will offer a free bus pass so that families can get to and from the pool so they have an opportunity to get to and from the pool. Research shows that if families don’t swim, their kids aren’t going to learn to swim. It’s also a wonderful way for families to recreate together, have fun, learn a new skill, and stay healthy. We are really excited to be able to offer that this summer.”
One returning item for this summer is the Ithaca Youth Bureau’s ever-popular roller skating night. Over five Friday nights in the spring and summer, they offer roller-skating for people of all ages at the Cass Park Rink. In years past, Klohmann said, there have been over 1,000 participants. She is looking forward to seeing as many people have fun at the roller-skating night as well as the various camps which will begin in the coming months.