Whack those tennis balls, tootle on a horn or "fly" into space. Cozy down for a good read, perfect the butterfly stroke or explore darkest Africa.
Bring on the children.
It's summer in Lawrence and, like the flowers in bloom, fun learning activities for young people have popped up all over town.
Ask 13-year-old Eric Schmidt about his summer and he'll tell you he became a mission controller at a "Computer Magic and Worlds to Explore" camp run in June by Eric Flescher and Stephen Shawl.
"It was pretty fun," Schmidt said of such tasks as "landing" a space probe on the moon and "creating" a colony on another planet.
Ask 5 -year-old Austin Engling about his summer and he'll explain how he made a green papier mache turtle costume at the Lawrence Arts Center and paraded publicly in it for Art in the Park.
It was especially fun, Austin said, when some of his friends saw him decked out as the turtle.
AN INFORMAL survey of local summer activities for children last week revealed that whatever a child's interest, there's probably something going on to fit the bill, and a parent's pocketbook.
The only trick seems to be the one parents who work outside the home have to perform getting offspring to this or that activity on time, and picking them up again.
Some programs run for most of the working day but others require only a morning or afternoon, or even an hour or less, and can be tricky to work into a demanding work schedule.
Janet Hodges, a single mother of two young boys who have been involved in space camp, summer reading classes, soccer and baseball this summer, said, "I'm really glad that we live in Lawrence."
Because of the range of programs available, Hodges said, even families on a tight budget can find fun summer activities for their children.
"I don't know how many communities do that," she said, noting there are both low-cost options, and in some cases, scholarships for more expensive activities.
HODGES ADDED that her work, at Women's Transitional Care Services, is flexible so she's able to transport her sons to and from their summer classes during the working day, but she noted not all parents have the advantage of that kind of work arrangement.
For those with scheduling problems, there are some all-day programs as well as activities, particular sports, that take place outside regular work hours.
The annual summer reading program, sponsored by the library in conjunction with the Lawrence Schools Area Council and with help from the school district and the city's parks and recreation department, is one activity without set hours. Participants just read at their leisure, with 20 the recommended number of books.
This year, said children's librarian Mary Paretsky, 3,395 youngsters have enrolled, including lap readers and regular readers.
SUCH SUMMER basics as the reading program as well as swimming lessons and baseball and softball continue to draw crowds, but more exotic fare like lessons in jungle "magic" and foreign languages, not to mention the space travel and papier mache artistry, also have a following.
Numerous sports camps also enroll thousands of children locally, including many who are not Lawrence residents.
Enrichment classes, workshops and camps offered here for out-of-school students are sponsored by virtually every organization in town involved with youth, from the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department and Lawrence School District No. 497 to the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Lawrence Art Center, Lawrence Community Theater and various entities associated with Kansas University.
There also are also a few strictly private endeavors, such as the space camp.
BY FAR THE biggest program in terms of activities for local children is the one run by the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department. Its diverse offerings include instructional classes in such subjects as swimming, tennis and gymnastics (in cooperation with KU's department of health, physical education and recreation), neighborhood playground programs, day camps and youth sports.
Kathy Fody, city superintendent of recreation, said Thursday that more than 4,000 children are enrolled in the instructional classes alone.
Additionally, more than 1,000 are enrolled in youth sports, which include T-ball, softball and baseball, some 300 participate in playgound programs, 140 in the day camps and another 114 in special populations youth programs.
At South Park one rainy day last week, playground superviser Amy Hadley and staff had about a dozen youngsters involved in such board games as Checkers and Battleship.
HADLEY SAID the games are a favorite when it rains or gets too hot for other activities, but the children also are putting together a talent show, doing art projects, swimming and bowling.
The six-week playground program, which runs from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays, ends July 27th.
Josh Chappelle and Curtis Zimmerman, both 10, said they planned to participate in all six weeks of the South Park activities while 12-year-old Ryan Carr said he comes just for the morning sessions.
At Lawrence High School, the music department's halls are filled with grade-schoolers this summer. While 16-year-olds attempt driver's education in the parking lot, the novice and intermediate music students serenade them from nearby classrooms.
In a novice B-flat soprano clarinet class one day last week, 22 girls and three boys tucked their lower lips over their teeth and played their "G"s.
WATCHING OUT for delicate reeds and properly depressed bridge keys, their instructor, Johanna Cox, advised, "Blow really gently. You don't need to blow us out of the room."
Pleased with the sound, she complimented, "You know for beginning clarinet players, you don't sound too bad."
Lewis Tilford, director of fine arts for the school district, said about 450 students are enrolled in the six-week summer music program, which includes band, orchestra, piano and vocal sessions. It wraps up Friday.
Other school district enrichment classes held in June at Sunset School drew 82 students. French, Spanish and German, creative writing and physical education lessons were offered.
The Lawrence Art Center and Lawrence Community Theater offer artistically oriented summer activities. On-going classes there have drawn some 400 children so far, according to Andrew Dubowski, education program coordinator there, and two Summer Youth Theater (SYT) sessions have involved more than 100 young performers.
IN JUNE, SYT presented a musical, "Lil Abner, and Aug. 2-5 will perform a drama, "Broadway."
Mary Doveton, director of Lawrence Community Theater, said its "School's Out, Theater's In" program gets under way Aug. 20 with video workshops: "Coyote Tales: The Movie" for first- through third-graders and "Tales of the Unexpected" for fourth- through sixth-graders.
The Douglas County Fairgrounds played host last week to the Cub Scouts' annual day camp.
According to Dail Blake, district executive for the Pelathe District of the Heart of America Boy Scout Council, 162 cubs ages 7 to 9 signed up. Activities included softball, archery and leathercrafts, along with a "Mr. Day Camp" competition and a session on making Monkey Bread.
Daryl Wimmer, camp staffer in charge of the "Frontier Cooking" presentation, said the favored Monkey Bread is biscuit dough sweetened with brown sugar and drizzled with melted butter before being baked in a Dutch oven covered with coals.
THE SCOUTS also had day camp, in June at their local Hidden Valley camp, and some are enrolled in on-going summer badge workshops that explore such fields as textiles and fibers, music and local lore.
Dane Floyd, unit director at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, said its 11-week summer program draws about 100 children a day and involves traditional on-going activities like crafts and movies as well as special events, including an upcoming "Hoopfest" in Kansas City.
The programs there include citizen and leadership development, cultural enrichment, health and physical education, outdoor and environmental education, personal and educational development and social recreation.
Twenty club members received scholarships from basketball player Danny Manning for his new summer camp, held last week at Lawrence High School, Floyd said. Called the Reebok/Danny Manning All-American Camp, it came complete with Danny Manning.
AT KU, COACHES' camps have been established in every collegiate sport except swimming and, according to a spokeswoman in the athletic office, the basketball camps alone draw 400 children a week to campus, most from out of town.
Sports Skills and Fitness Camps run by KU's HPER faculty have drawn about 275 youths for two session this summer.
Also on campus, the Museum of Natural History and Museum of Anthropology present summer workshops, and Midwestern Camps are offered in music, journalism, debate and computers.
The Museum of Natural History Summer Workshops for Young People feature such subjects as aquatic biology and the solar system. Ruth Gennrich, director of public education, said 687 of their 692 spaces were filled, with some children taking the limit of two classes rather than just one.
ACROSS JAYHAWK Boulevard at the Museum of Anthropology, about 50 youngsters participated in four half-day workshops in June that ranged from "Jungle Magic" to the "Mysteries of the Mayans," said Celia Daniels, public education coordinator there.
David Bushouse of the Midwestern Camps, said more than 1,500 high school and junior high school students enrolled for those offerings this year, and as with the sports camps, many have come from out of town.