From art to archery, summer recreation programs are looking for kids now

The school schedule still dominates family calendars for a few more months, but summer freedom is almost here.

Bay County parents looking for ways to keep their kids entertained during the summer have multiple options. Registration is open now for summer camps focused on everything from sports and art to science and technology.

Here are a few of the options available in the area:

Summer Recreation Program at the Bay County Community Center

The 2024 Summer Recreation Program at the Bay County Community Center runs from Mon., June 10 to Thurs., Aug. 1 for kids between 5 and 14. 

The program meets Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Bay County Community Center, 800 John F. Kennedy Drive. 

Breakfast, lunch, field trips, sports, arts and crafts, and more are included in the $125 per child fee.

Registration opened March 7. To register, you must signed a waiver, provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and pay the $125 fee.

STEM Initiative in the Great Lakes Bay Region

All year, the STEM Initiative in the Great Lakes Bay Region gives parents, students, and teachers fun, educational opportunities to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. 

It's no surprise that summer camps are part of their offerings. 

Click here to learn about summer camps throughout the region of Bay, Arenac, Midland, Saginaw, Clare, Gladwin, and Isabella counties. Programs are available for kids from elementary through high school.

Studio 23 Summer Arts Camps

Teens, tweens, and youth all are invited to summer camp programs at Studio 23/The Arts Center, 901 N. Water St. Check the website for a complete list of classes.

Art camps and workshops run in June, July, and August. Here are a few examples of what’s available: 
  • A Fruits and Flowers Watercolor Workshop with Allies Noble is open to kids as young as 14. The one-day workshop meets on Sat., July 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. In the class, students will learn about color blending, different brush strokes, layering to create depth and texture, and more. All skill levels are welcome in this $25 class.
  • For kids between 7 and 12 years old who want a more in-depth experience, consider a Summer Art Camp that meets from Mon., June 24 through Thurs., June 27 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Students should bring a cold lunch. While in the class, they’ll get to try different art mediums as well as learn about art techniques and history.
Camp Invention 

For children entering Kindergarten through sixth grade, Camp Invention promises to give kids “an inspiring, action-packed summer adventure.” During the camp, kids will have hands-on experiences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)

To register for the 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mon., June 10 through Fri., June 14 program held at Kolb Elementary School, 305 W. Crump St., visit the Camp Invention website. The one-week camp is $270.

Encore Youtheatre Program

If you’ve got the next Oscar winner at your house this summer, act fast to register him or her for the Bay City Players youth program, Encore Youtheatre. Registration for the 2024 program closes Mon., April 15. 

During the program, students in the third through 12th grades will try everything from auditioning to performing on stage. Along the way, they may pick up skills on dancing, set design, and monologues. 

All the details about times and expectations are spelled out on the website. The program runs in May and June. Weekdays and Saturdays are required. Tuition is $100 plus six volunteer hours or $125 with no volunteer hours.

Kids and adults can learn more about art at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum at SVSU during camps this summer. (Photo courtesy of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum)Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

Summer camp isn’t just for kids. At the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, kids and adults are invited to summer camp. 
  • For the kids, the 2024 camp sessions are Mon., June 24-Fri., June 28 for 8- to 10-year-olds; Mon., July 8-Fri., July 12 for 11- to 13-year-olds; and Mon., July 22-Fri., July 26 for teens between 14 and 18. Each session meets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the gallery, which is located on the campus of SVSU. The youth camp fee is $165. Museum members receive a discounted rate.
  • Adult camp is Mon., Aug. 5 to Fri., Aug. 9. The adult camp is open to anyone at least 18 years old. The adult camp fee is $30 per day or $125 for all five days. Art supplies are provided.
Sailing lessons are held on the Saginaw River in downtown Bay City every summer. StudentSs learn the parts of the sailboat, basic knots, launching, docking, and sailing maneuvers. (Photo courtesy of the Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association)Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association

We live in a community named for a body of water, so learning to sail only makes sense. The Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association provides several opportunities for kids and adults to get on the water. Check out the SBCSA website for a full list.

Kids between 8 and 13 who want to spend the summer learning the basics of sailing have several different opportunities.

Introductory courses are available in June, July, and August. The dates and times are available online. 

The Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association offers lessons, loaner boats, and boatbuilding classes to its members. (Photo courtesy of the Saginaw Bay Community Sailing Association)Before signing up, kids should be able to swim with a life jacket and be capable of righting a small capsized boat. During the sessions, kids spend most of their time on the water learning how to sail, tie knots, launching, docking, and more. Students will be alone in a boat, but instructors are nearby. 

Tuition is $100 for non-members and $80 for members.

Camp Fish Tales operates week-long summer camps. Throughout the year, the camp is open for special events such as weddings, graduation parties, or corporate events. (Photo courtesy of Camp Fish Tales)Camp Fish Tales

Summer camp is for everyone. Camp Fish Tales, located on more than 60 acres in Pinconning, offers outdoor experiences to people with special needs. The camp is open to people of all ages and all disabilities.

Camp Fish Tales covers more than 67 acres and includes a fishing pond. (Photo courtesy of Camp Fish Tales)Registration is open now for summer programs, which run June through July. Tuition varies.

During their stay, campers can participate in archery, fishing, boating, group activities, swimming, games, and more. The camp includes a 5,000-foot paved and wheelchair-accessible nature trail, cabins with handicap-accessible restrooms and showers, as well as classic camp facilities such as a fishing dock and kayaks.

Disability Services Resource Center

The Disability Services Resource Center, 1820 N. Trumbull Drive, offers Summer Special Needs Enrichment Programs for kids and adults with special needs. 

Campers may not recognize the program by that long-winded name. What may be more familiar to campers are Blooming Meadows, Greener Pastures, Open Fields, and Rolling Hills. The programs have been around since 2020 to help children and young adults enjoy summertime

While the programs are similar, each is designed for a different group.

Photo courtesy of Disability Services Resource CenterFor example, Blooming Meadows is for kids between 5 and 12 years old. Teens and young women between 13 and 25 are invited to Greener Pastures.

For men, the program for ages 13 to 25 is called Open Fields.

Men and women between 26 and 36 years old are invited to Rolling Hills.

At each program, campers enjoy arts and crafts, music, recreation, and physical fitness activities.

Each camp is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 17 through July 25 at Bangor North, 504 Revilo Road.

Registration is open now. Tuition is $425 per participant.

A family day pass to the Delta College Fitness & Recreation Center is your passport to a hot tub, water slide, lazy river, and more. (Photo courtesy of Delta College)Delta College

Delta College offers more than classes. The community college reaches into the community, especially for kids.

Throughout the year, families can visit the Delta College Planetarium and Learning Center, 100 Center Ave. in Downtown Bay City; a pool at the main campus; and take advantage of community outreach programs.

The Delta College Planetarium is a landmark building in downtown Bay City. (Photo Credit: Ashley Brown)In the summer, teens are invited to Camp Health and Wellness – set for Tues. June 18-Thurs., June 20 this year. During the camp, teens have fun while learning about potential careers. The camp features hands-on sessions led by local health care professionals, college instructors, and career center teachers. Lunch is provided. 

The camp is open to students entering ninth through 12th grades this fall and meets from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each day. Tuition is $30. 

Kids are invited to take over the Saginaw Valley State University campus for summer camps ranging from sports to science and math. (Photo courtesy of SVSU)Saginaw Valley State University

Sports camps are well known for helping kids hone their skills. At SVSU, camps include football, baseball, men's and women's basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis, track, soccer, and cheerleading

Click here to check out the options for teen athletes interested in spending some time at SVSU this summer.

As a university, you'd expect SVSU to offer academic camps too. Click here to learn about the Science and Mathematics Extravaganza for Kids (SMEKplus) camps.

The three-day camps in July are open to students in second through eighth grades. In the past, students learned by building trebuchets, engineering bubble wands, and other playful activities. Tuition is $150.

From day camp to sports camps, the Dow Bay Area Family Y is keeping kids busy this summer. (Photo courtesy of the Dow Bay Area Family Y)Dow Bay Area Family Y

Day camp as well as aquatic and sports camps all are planned at the Dow Bay Area Family Y, 225 Washington Ave., this summer.

Camp Y kids will keep kids entertained from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays all summer. Each week is themed. Themes include Weird Science Week and Lego Week. The camps are available for kids between 5 and 12 years old, but openings fill fast.

The sports camp schedule and prices vary depending on each camper's skills and needs. Basketball, football, soccer, swimming, and volleyball are offered. Click here for the complete list, plus registration information.

For information about more camps in the Great Lakes Bay Region, visit the Great Lakes Bay Parents website.

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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at