Plan Your Child’s Summer Adventure This Spring

Summer break is just around the corner. Five Rivers MetroParks is offering new summer camp programs for youth ages 7 to 17 and a host of activities and events that will get your family excited about the outdoors!

Myriad options are sure to keep your kiddos occupied during the summer months. Whether you daydream about keeping your family’s summer casual, with long days at the pool and at-home fun, or scheduled with multiple summer camps and programs, there are a few things you need to know before you break out your calendar:

1)      The summer slide is real, but you can beat it: During the summer, children are out of the classroom for months, and while it’s healthy for children to decompress during the summer there can be consequences if they don’t keep their minds engaged during the school break. The “summer slide” refers to the learning loss children experience during the summer, and the statistics are serious. Oxford Learning reports:

  • 2.6 months of math skills are lost during the summer
  • About one month of overall learning is lost after summer break
  • Children take about six weeks in the fall to re-learn old material
  • Students who have experienced summer learning loss throughout the years are an average of two years behind their peers by grade six.

The good news? Beating summer brain drain is achievable with engaging activities that are also entertaining. Because children spend so little time outdoors – about half as much time as they did 20 years ago, according to the National Wildlife Federation – the perfect balance between fun and brain-engaging opportunities is a summer of outdoor exploration. Such activities as nature hikes, planting a vegetable garden and high-quality, nature-based summer camp programs are all great options.

2)      Camps are for tweens and teens too: Some camp programs are specifically developed with older youth in mind. Young adventurers can try kayaking, mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, stand up paddleboarding and more during MetroParks’ Teen Adventure Camp, Teen Paddling Camp and Teen Mountain Biking Camp.

Parent pro tip: The great outdoors is the perfect venue for an adventure that engages everyone in your family. Visit, and to plan your family’s next camping or other outdoor adventure.

3)      Kids thrive outside: According to, the great outdoors has amazing benefits for children, from increased attention spans to stress reduction. Children who spend time outdoors also experience an increase in their fitness levels and build active, healthy bodies, reports the National Wildlife Federation. Kids also have the opportunity to make new friends and build social skills while they are engaged in summer camp programming.

Check out MetroParks’ Park Adventures, Adventures of Prairie Kids, Fantastic Beasts and Youth Nature Explorers camps for some nature-focused, youth-friendly fun.

4)      Do play in nature, but don’t plan all your activities: With so many summer-fun options, it’s easy to overschedule. According to the Children & Nature Network, people who recall having enough free time during childhood enjoy high levels of social success as adults. Free time is also linked to high self-esteem and flexibility to adjust in light of setbacks.

Allowing children time to explore the outdoors through unstructured play is also beneficial. When planning activities, allow your children time to explore on their own. For example, if you are picking a child up after summer camp, give them extra time to play outdoors with their friends before departure. If you are taking a break during your family bike ride, give the kids some extra time to explore on their own.

5)      Don’t make it difficult; do register early: School may be out, but parents’ busy work schedules are still in session. Be sure to schedule fun activities for the weekend, such as outdoor family picnics in your favorite park, family bike rides and hikes. During the week, find summer programs that fit your schedule and won’t leave you scrambling. MetroParks offers week-long, three-day, two-day, one-day, and half-day camps that will fit your schedule and keep your child entertained. Unless otherwise noted, full day camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with drop off between 8-9 a.m., and pick-up between 4-5 p.m.

Finding a camp program your child is interested in that also fits your schedule may be difficult the closer you get to summer break. Registration is now available for MetroParks summer camps, and Carriage Hill MetroPark Horse Camp registration opens April 1. Register online or call 937-275-PARK.

Visit to learn more about all the opportunities that await your kids this summer.

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