Olaf — the lovable snowman in Disney’s Frozen — sings about his affection for summer “Bees will buzz, and kids will blow dandelion fuzz…in summer!” But parents and grandparents aren’t always as thrilled with the extra hours of bored little ones tugging at them for something to do. Those who work during the summer months have it even harder, having to come up with weeks of activities to keep little legs moving. We’re offering some ideas on entertainment options, summer camps, activities and more. So next time you hear, “I’m booooored,” you can sing along with Olaf and entertain even the most restless of troops.
In addition to their year-round programs in swimming and climbing, the Whatcom YMCA also offers a staggering variety of summer programs for kids entering K-6th grades, from summer exploratory courses to overnight camps. The Y offers Girls on the Run, Y’s Kids Spring Enrichment and Adventure Spring Camp, Progressive Swim Lessons, Rookies Teeball and Baseball League and Rookies Spring Soccer League. For parents and kids looking for overnight summer camps, the Y has a program for kids entering grades 3-6 in Stanwood from August 4-8. The Skagit YMCA invites kids entering 1st through 8th grade to join them at Camp Anderson, a day camp that has optional extended hours and tons of activities, field trips to the Birch Bay waterslides and more. Camp Anderson, which runs from June to August, is a great option for working parents.
Whatcom: 1256 N. State St., Bellingham, whatcomymca.org
Skagit: 215 E. Fulton St., Mount Vernon, skagitymca.org
North Coast Gymnastics Academy in Bellingham has programs for pure recreation as well as for the serious gymnast. During the summer, they offer several camps for kids ages 5-12, including Olympic Gymnastics Camp, Princess Training Camp, Ninja Training Camp and Jedi Training Camp. The camps begin on July 7th with Olympic Gymnastics Camp and end in late August.
1710 Express Dr., Bellingham, northcoastgym.com
Unlike those tennis parents, you’ll be able to cool off this summer watching your kiddos take to the ice. The Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association has Try Hockey for Free days. Those who like the feel of it can join their summer camp Mites Play Hockey, which starts June 16th. Equipment is included in the price. The next Try Hockey for Free Day is at the Bellingham Sportsplex on June 15th.
1225 Civic Field Way, Bellingham, whatcomhockey.com
Whatcom Soccer Academy
Soccer is to this area what hockey is to Canada. The programs of the WSA are for kids ages 5-12. Camp dates start June 20th and run until August 7th. Tuition includes a soccer ball, a t-shirt and 12 hours of instruction. All classes are held at the Northwest Soccer Park. The WSA is also offering an advanced soccer camp for ages 9-12 years, which is designed for kids who are serious about soccer.
5238 Northwest Dr., Bellingham, whatcomsoccer.com
Lang’s Horse and Pony Farm Camp
What is summer without a horse day camp? Young riders learn responsibility, respect, empathy and discipline. While they serve riders of all ages, Lang’s offers a 2-week overnight camp for girls ages 9-16. Girls are housed in huge covered wagons. No riding experience is required, but the camp involves a lot of time on a horse, so Lang’s recommends that girls take a few rides before the camp to get the basics. Meals and showers provided. Lang’s also has morning and all-day camps, sibling camps and many other classes and options. Want to pack up yourself? They also have a Ladies’ Weekend Retreat just for women.
21463 Little Mountain Rd., Mount Vernon,
Cornwall Park Summer Tennis Program
The United States Tennis Association (Pacific Northwest Division) and the Bellingham Parks Department are hosting a new program of noncompetitive tennis instruction in Cornwall Park. The program runs from June-August and is for all levels of ability and ages. No experience is necessary for kids 10 and under, and age-appropriate rackets are available for use.
3424 Meridian, Bellingham, pnw.usta.com/bellingham/
Every Friday morning, Holly Roger leads a nature tour of the Stimson Reserve for parents with children under 6. Wild Whatcom also offers camps, outdoor adventures and outdoor engagement for all age and ability levels. A great way to introduce the natural world to your little budding ecologists, the Wild Whatcom is a great, affordable way to get outside this summer. Make reservations and dress for jumping in mud puddles and sniffing flowers.
1114 Franklin St., Bellingham, wildwhatcom.org
Drama, art, music—whichever muse your little ones choose, we have a great place for them to try it out. We’re lucky that our local dramatic and musical professionals are engaged with teaching children, because the fire of performance and expression is sparked at a young age. With infusions from Western Washington University, the Mount Baker Theatre, the Bellingham Theater Guild and more, we have so many great teachers out there to teach our children with passion and dedication.
A competitive camp for the budding Yo Yo Ma in your family, Marrowstone is the premier orchestral training camp in the Pacific Northwest. Students ages 13-25 travel from more than 30 states to attend the two-week program, which is hosted by Western Washington University. The days are packed with master classes, sectional rehearsals, full orchestra rehearsals and chamber music. The Marrowstone students will give a concert at Mount Baker Theatre this year, for the first time in their 71-year history.
11065 Fifth Ave. NE, Suite A. Seattle, marrowstone.syso.org
The Neighborhood Playhouse Summer Drama Camp
Run by two exceptionally gifted Bellingham residents, Lizanne Schrader and Jerry McGarity, the Neighborhood Playhouse takes your little ones from the earliest stages of acting exploration to the more advanced role of producing a show. Their annual summer camp is for kids from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The Kindergarten program, Theatre on the Range, gets little ones to combine movement, imagination and storytelling. The Page to Stage program puts your children entering 3rd to 5th grades in the director’s chair, as they take a play from book to stage, including costumes and scenery. The Production Camp is for advanced actors and budding directors entering
6th to 12th grades, and Camp Comedy teaches young ones the art of timing and humor.
2524 Victor St., Bellingham, theneighborhoodplayhouse.net
Summer Theatre Camps at Mount Baker Theatre
The Missoula Children’s Theatre comes to town with props, costumes, scenery and makeup, and our local kiddies make up the cast. 60 local campers in grades 1 and 2 rehearse, perform and dazzle on the theater’s historic Main Stage. This year’s plays are Rapunzel, Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio. Camps run from mid-July until early
August. Rehearsals are from 10-2:30 M-F and performances are Saturdays at 3 and 7 p.m.
104 N. Commercial Ave., Bellingham,
Gabriel’s Art Kids Arts Summer Camp
Gabriel Miles, the warm-hearted owner of Gabriel’s Art Kids, states on her website, “I plan to challenge and nurture the creative energy of students while fostering enthusiasm on their part for personal discovery.” Miles holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and an MS in Art Education. She is an artist herself, having run her own gallery. With morning and afternoon sessions, Gabriel’s serves up art and dance, music and theater for kids in ages ranging from preschool to 5th grade. Gabriel offers fun themes like Jungle Mania and Circus Circus, which are sure to keep your little one enriched and entertained. Preschool programs are only half-day, but K-5 have the option of all-day care. Gabriel’s is conveniently located near downtown Bellingham.
1415 Dupont St., Bellingham,
Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth
BAAY offers year-round dramatic arts education for kids from ages 5-15 (individual shows have specific age ranges). Their family-friendly programming has included Seussical, Annie, Fiddler on the Roof among many other favorites. Under the direction of David Post, the BAAY staff is exceptionally credentialed in both professional theater and
in working with kids.
1059 N. State St., Bellingham, baay.org
Circus Arts Kids’ Camp
Sponsored by the Bellingham Circus Guild and hosted in the Cirque Lab in Fairhaven, the Circus Arts Kids’ Camp is a newcomer to the summer day camp scene. For kids ages 8-14, the camp teaches trapeze, unicycle, stilt-walking, acrobatics and more! The camp runs from August 12-16, culminating in a performance for family and friends.
The FIG (Family Interactive Gallery) is a beautiful indoor play space inside the Lightcatcher with plenty of mind-tickling toys and nature-inspired interactive displays. Some of the most interesting areas of the FIG are the little campground, a small house with a kitchen, a big foam construction area and a lovely magnetic board by local artist Fishboy. There are also places to create paintings and craft projects and a theater, complete with costumes. The FIG is a great place to settle in on a rainy day, and has kid-friendly 250 Flora Café right next door. Open Wed-Sat, 10-5 and Sun. 12-5.
250 Flora St., Bellingham, whatcommuseumofart.org/fig
Arne Hanna H2O Child Care
Few parents and grandparents may be aware that having little ones around doesn’t mean sacrificing laps or water aerobics. The Arne Hana Aquatic Center in Bellingham offers in-pool childcare with a certified life guard in the kiddie area. The program is for children 3 years and older, and is a lifesaver for those who want to get some exercise.
1114 Potter St., Bellingham, cob.org
Perch & Play
Bellingham’s favorite indoor playground, Perch & Play is airy and light and beautifully designed for kids of all ages. Multiple levels offer the space a lot of climbing, sliding and playing options, including a playhouse perched at the top of a big tree. Room monitors keep kids from bonking each other with toys and throwing each other off of equipment, and safety measure prevent parents from losing track of wandering
Delightful Days out of the Raintots. P & P also offers food and beverages for all ages, including adult malted and vinted beverages for stressed out parents. Adding to their services, P & P began offering a childcare option last year, called Playschool. Geared for kids ages 3-5, the Playschool is an enrichment program for developing little minds.
1707 N. State St., Bellingham, perchandplay.com
Skagit Children’s Museum
Located in the Cascade Mall in Burlington, the Skagit Children’s Museum is a local favorite. Its biggest attractions are the giant working crane and life-sized boat, but there are tons of little nooks and corners for busy kiddos. The museum also sponsors story times and craft days.
550 Cascade Mall, Burlington, skagitchildrensmuseum.net
Jump Around Fun Zone
Want a little bouncy castle in your day? The Jump Around Fun Zone in Bellingham has tons of slides and castles and other bouncy things. They also have a snack bar and plenty of tables for those who just want to supervise. They will help you coordinate a birthday party, and they have loads of specials and offers.
4600 Guide Meridian, Bellingham, jumparoundfunzone.com
Attached to the First Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, local favorite Jungle Playland is a play place for the whole family. There’s a snack bar, ball pit, arcade, climbing wall and more. There are spaces for toddlers and older kids to climb and slide, accommodating all ages well. It is very reasonably priced for both individuals and for birthdays.
2901 Martin Rd., Mount Vernon, jungleplayland.com
Local retailers may love me or hate me for putting this in print, but Yaeger’s, Tiger Toys, the Fairhaven Toy Garden and Wild Blueberries all have entertaining areas for small children to play while you browse. Just don’t expect to leave without a little something for the kids.
Marine Life Center
Tucked between the Port of Bellingham offices and The Loft is the Marine Life Center, a bubbling burbling series of exhibits on the aquatic creatures that live around us. From octopi to salmon, the Center has an extensive touch tank, a large saltwater open aquarium and more. The Center is a great place for little ones to get an interactive experience with the stickiness of anemones and the bumps of seastars.
1801 Roeder Ave., Bellingham, marinelifecenter.org
Kids with disabilities have a particularly difficult time socializing and finding activities that are safe and fun. These two camps offer specialized care for kids who just want to have a normal day at camp.
Created by parents who have children with autism, F.A.C.E.S. (Families for Autistic Children’s Education and Support) gives kids with autism overnight camping experiences that are tailored to their needs, and yet similar to regular camp experiences. F.A.C.E.S. is far more than just a camp experience, it’s a support network for parents and
families of kids with autism.
Founder Michael Mathis of the Burned Children Recovery Foundation was a normal kids having fun when he was severely burned. One of his friends threw a gas can into a bonfire, and Michael suffered burns over 60 percent of his body. He
founded the BCRF to help kids who have also suffered from serious burns. The BCRF also operates Camp Phoenix, which gives these normally isolated kids a shot at friendship, support and just plain fun. The BCRF also operates Phoenix House, a transitional home that helps ease kids into society, offers counseling and support for families and
provides resources to communities about the dangers of fire.
OUT OF TOWN
Had one too many afternoons of the same places in the area? These fun day trips are worthy of your time and gas money. Just remember that children crossing the border into Canada need a birth certificate, and if traveling
with one parent or with grandparents, you need send with them a letter of permission.
This interesting compound just outside Redmond is, indeed, a working farm. But it’s easy to forget that once you’re through the market area and among the rides. Yes, rides. Mostly geared for the 3-7 year-old set, there are great rides and play structures (including a fullsized bus and fire engine) galore. There are Ferris wheels, self-driving cars, barrel rides and a roller coaster. There’s a very good on-site restaurant that keeps you fueled during your visit. For the animal-lovers, there are pony rides and a petting zoo with farm animals.
The Outback Kangaroo Farm
Set along 530 in Arlington, the Outback Kangaroo Farm features kangaroos, but also has many beloved animals of all species, including goats, wallabies, flying squirrels, alpacas, lemurs, emus and many more. The tours are 40 minutes long and very reasonable: $8 for kids 2-12 and $9 for adults. Bear in mind, they only accept cash or checks, and they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Greater Vancouver Zoo Just over the border at the Aldergrove crossing, the Greater Vancouver Zoo has a huge selection of animals, a train, bikes for rent and snack bars for hungry visitors. A large but accessible zoo, their big draw is the hippo exhibit. The hippos are on close display while dining at lunch and snack at noon and 3p.m. daily.