A summer of fun is limited only by a child's imagination and a parent's ability to transport.
School's out and for parents the summer months loom ahead like titanic monsters. After the general excitement of staying home from school wears off, children will need weapons to fight summer boredom.
Lawrence offers children a summer recreation and learning arsenal guaranteed to bring those summer months down to size.
Crack the books
Reading can be a fun, inexpensive way to spend hot summer afternoons or rainy days. The Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The library is offering three summer reading programs that will run from May 27 to Sept. 4. The theme "A Bazillion Ways to Read" will guide summer readers. Education experts stress that school-age children should continue to read throughout the summer to ensure success at school in the fall.
In addition to these programs, the library will offer the following free special events for young patrons:
- 10 a.m. June 11: Parade of Readers -- participants can dress up, decorate a bike or wagon to parade around the block and then enjoy juice and stories.
- 10 a.m.-1 p.m. July 1: Fourth of July Craft Day.
- 3 p.m. July 19: Pioneers' Day -- Kelly Werts will come perform his "Kitchen Songs" and talk about pioneers. Participants may choose to dress like a pioneer. An ice cream social will follow the event.
- 2 p.m. Aug. 16: Pet Day -- Children can bring their pets or just come see the other pets. All pets must be restrained on a leash or contained in some way.
- 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3: Priscilla Howe, a Lawrence storyteller, will perform at the library.
The library requests that children under 8 be accompanied to the library.
The library's Bookmobile will feature a short story or skit from June 2 to July 25 at the following times and places:
Mondays: 9:30 a.m. at Holcom Park; 11 a.m. at "Dad" Perry Park; and 2 p.m. at Broken Arrow Park.
Tuesdays: 9:30 a.m. at Centennial Park; 11 a.m. at Edgewood Park; and 2 p.m. at Deerfield Park.
Wednesdays: 9:30 a.m. at Prairie Park; 11 a.m. at John Taylor Park; 2 p.m. at South Park; and 3:30 p.m. at Clinton Park.
Summer can be a good time to try a new hobby or work on an old one. A library card is a free ticket (as long as you return books on time) to explore the world of possibilities.
The Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, 1520 Haskell Ave., is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, and for $5 a whole summer of fun can be had for those children ages 6-18.
Joe Stebbins, executive director of Boys and Girls Club, said that during the summer an average of 120 children visit every day.
The day begins with breakfast. Some days the children can participate in the parks program where they visit various community parks. Noon brings the summer food service program.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, swimming is on the afternoon agenda, but other activities like crafts, indoor and outdoor sports and computer activities in the learning center give all children choices.
Stebbins said most activities are free, but extra money may be needed for the various field trips such as trips to the zoo, skating or fishing.
For more information about the club, call 841-5672.
Students looking for some practical experience can check out Lawrence Teen Vision at Heartland Community Church, 1031 N.H.
Paul Gray, executive director of the program, said students who have completed the fifth through the 12th grade are eligible for the free program.
The students will be working on two segments of a television sitcom that will air on Sunflower Cablevision.
The students will write, direct, film and edit the show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, beginning June 2.
The two-month experience will give students an opportunity to learn in a safe environment, Gray said.
"We really teach them all aspects of teamwork," Gray said. "They learn how parts of the team are interdependent to one another."
Gray said adults are on hand to guide the students who serve as actors, directors, editors and special effects people, but he also said the program would only be able to handle 125 students.
Besides the show, Gray said one aspect of the program was character-based and daily discussions on what it means to be honest, trustworthy, caring, etc. will be worked into the schedule.
"There are a lot of pluses," Gray said. "Instead of being on the street and maybe getting into trouble, they will have something to show for their summer."
In the swim
Another popular choice with children is swimming. The Lawrence Aquatic Center, Eighth and Kentucky, is open to swimmers from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Summer passes to the pool are available to families of four for $90 and individual passes are $40. General admission for children under 12 is $1 and $2 for age 13 and up.
Pool Manager Bob Lockwood said there is no age requirement at the pool, and no set age that a child is ready to be left alone at the pool.
"We do have young children who come here," he said. "We do have to watch them closely.
"If they understand the rules and can follow the rules, we don't have a problem. Generally, school age makes a bit of difference for us."
Parents should consider the child's length of visit and act accordingly. A guideline for length of stay is two to three hours. He reminds patrons to replenish sunscreen as necessary and remember when children will be hungry.
"There are a lot of different things to do, so children do not get bored," Lockwood said.
The playground next to the Aquatic Center in Buford M. Watson Jr. Park is expected to be completed soon, officials with Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department said. More sand and wood chips along with a swing set will be added to complete the outfit.
Parks and Rec also offers seven levels of the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Program. Call 832-7990 for more information.
The art of summer
The Lawrence Arts Center, 200 W. Ninth, offers a variety of classes for children. Classes, Saturday workshops and dance camps have been scheduled throughout the summer.
Classes for preschoolers through ninth-grade students will be offered in an 11-week period. Ceramics, printmaking, music, origami, cartoons and drawing are only a few of the many classes offered. Stop by the center for a schedule of events and a fee schedule.
Along with the dance classes, there will be three summer dance camps. One camp, the Dance Camp Sampler, allows children to try a variety of dances. Call 843-ARTS for more information.
Children who like to use their imaginations and play pretend would enjoy the weeklong art and drama camp, "Under the Sea," which is sponsored by the Lawrence Arts Center and the Lawrence Community Theatre.
Ellen Williams, education director at the arts center, said the camp will let the children explore a world they don't see.
"I think it's important for kids to reach out and get involved in summer activities," Williams said. "They really can learn from kids they would not normally interact with. It helps them grow in a lot of different ways."
Registration is open until the program's start, on Aug. 11. The performance will be Aug. 15. The fee for the camp is $90 for children in the first through sixth grade.
Nature and more
For children ages 4 to 12 who are interested in science, the Kansas University Natural History Museum will be offering some summer workshops. The weeklong classes are divided into age groups and cover topics such as "Animal Communities," "Exploring Nature," "Creepy Crawlies," "Exploring the Jungle" and "Dig into Geology."
These and many others are offered to 4- to 7-year-olds for $55 a class and $60 for 8- to 12-year-olds. Call 864-4173 for more information.
Play, play, play
The Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department will offer its Neighborhood Playgrounds program again this year. Children can meet at their neighborhood playground for fun and games.
Two sessions, $35 each, will give children, ages 5-12, an opportunity to participate in trips, special events, swimming, games, contests, nature and crafts. The play areas will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The first session runs from Monday to June 27 and the second session runs from June 30 to July 25. Registration is required and can be delivered to Holcom Park Recreation Center or mailed to Neighborhood Playgrounds, P.O. Box 708, Lawrence 66044.
Duane Peterson, special events supervisor at Holcom Park Recreation Center, is in charge of the program.
Andre Jones, recreation center supervisor, said the program has been around for several years and has anywhere from five to 800 children.
They try to keep the number of children to 50 at each park with a counselor for every 10 children.
Neighborhood Playgrounds will be held at the following parks:
- Broken Arrow, 29th and Louisiana
- Centennial Park, Ninth west of Iowa
- Clinton Park, Fifth and Maine
- "Dad" Perry Park, Harvard Road and Monterey Way
- Deerfield Park, Princeton and Arrowhead
- Edgewood Park, 1245 E. 15th
- Holcom Park, 27th and Lawrence Avenue
- John Taylor Park, Seventh and Walnut
- Prairie Park, 27th and Harper
- South Park, 1141 Mass.
The Lawrence Parks & Recreation 1997 Summer Leisure Activities guide is full of summer activities for the whole family. Various camps, sports teams, movie nights and band concerts will be available. The brochures are available at all city recreational facilities.
Go with God
Summer also brings Vacation Bible School. Parents can check with their churches to find out the individual dates and times or check out the Religion Briefs in Friday's Journal-World for upcoming church activities.
Tried and true
Don't forget the summer traditions like riding bicycles, playing loosely organized sports with the neighborhood children and merely playing outside in the back yard.
Helping children choose activities they will look forward to will help make the summer months pass quickly.
Parents must remember is summer safety. Getting involved in activities may keep a child from being home alone. But if being home alone is unavoidable, Sgt. Susan Hadl, Lawrence Police Department, offers the following suggestions:
- Make sure children know how to answer the phone. They don't want to make it obvious that they are home alone.
- Children need to be able to dial an emergency number immediately. They should be able to dial 911, reach a doctor, parent or a trusted neighbor.
- They need to know where they can go if they leave the house. Teach them to always leave a note explaining where they went, how they went and what time they will return.
- Help them understand that while outside playing, they should not talk to strangers or alert anyone that they are home alone.
- They should know what to do if someone they do not recognize knocks on the door.
- Another good idea to have set times for a check-in call where the child can call a parent, grandparent or other trusted adult.