It's an endless stretch to adults who stew about how to keep the kids occupied when they're not in school. But for youngsters who have dragged themselves through the eternity that follows spring break, summer is the Big Payoff, a golden time that seems to evaporate as quickly as their allowances.
Whatever group you fall into, you're probably looking for something to make this summer special, and you may find your answer in some of the county's day camps and workshops for kids. There are dozens to choose from, covering everything from the performing arts to Ping-Pong, so it's hard to know where to begin. But Shirley Walch, executive director of the American Camping Assn., Southern California section, says there are some key considerations.
"First, it's very important to examine the individual needs and personality of the youngster," said Walch, whose organization accredits day and resident (overnight) camps statewide. "Is the camp structured or unstructured? Does it stress competition, and if so, is that the right thing for this child? Some kids thrive on competition; others can be destroyed by it."
Also, added Walch, ask about the adult-to-child ratio and the background, training and experience of the counselors and camp directors. Don't forget to take a close look at the overall safety and condition of the camp facility. For a copy of ACA's directory of camps from San Diego to Fresno, call Walch's office at (818) 223-9232. The Kid Care Hotline operated by the Orange County office can also provide callers with referrals to local day and resident camps; call them at (714) 543-2273.
Whether it's to brush up on established skills or dabble in theater for the first time, youngsters can choose from several programs this summer.
At South Coast Repertory and the Laguna Playhouse, children can participate in daily workshops culminating with a performance. And Costa Mesa's Pacific School of Music and the Arts is one of several local art schools that offer weekly classes and day camps in such areas as musical theater, dance and music. (You can reach them at (714) 545-1217; for other possibilities, check under the Art Instruction & Schools and the Music Instruction categories in your phone book.)
In July, the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theater's Summer Production Workshop gets underway at the theater's Stage 2 facility in South Laguna. Classes meet Monday through Friday mornings and are open to ages 10 through 18 (classes are divided by age). Instructors from the company's Youth Academy lead sessions that cover a range of theater skills, which students apply by staging their own show on July 27 and 28.
Laguna Playhouse Youth Theater Summer Production Workshop at Laguna Playhouse Stage 2, 32356 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. July 5-28. Fees for the three-week session have not been set but are expected to be in the $250 to $300 range. (714) 494-0744, Ext. 207.
At South Coast Repertory's Summer Theatre Workshop, youths 8 to 14 get an overview of the theatrical process. Teachers from the resident theater's Youth Conservatory lead the classes, and there are visits from professional set and costume designers as well as working actors.
The three-hour sessions are offered Monday through Friday at SCR's Fourth Step Theatre in Costa Mesa.
SCR's Summer Theatre Workshop at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Aug. 7-19. Ages 8 to 11 meet from 9 a.m. to noon; ages 12 to 14 work from 1 to 4 p.m. $190. (714) 957-2602, Ext. 210.
Learning a Craft
Young artists would do well to hang out at local museums and galleries this summer. Here are just a few of the options . . .
At the Irvine Fine Arts Center's Summer Arts Camp, 6- to 10-year-olds can take part in visual and performing arts classes, field trips and swim sessions at the aquatics center in adjacent Heritage Park. Topics include print making, drawing, painting, playwriting, music and dance. Classes are taught by certified instructors and arts professionals. Early registration suggested. Half-day, full-day and extended (7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.) sessions are available.
Irvine Fine Arts Center's Summer Arts Camp, 14321 Yale Ave., Irvine. Two-week sessions June 26 through Sept. 1. $125 to $250. (714) 724-6880 for information; (714) 724-6610 for registration, which begins in late May.
In addition to its lineup of weekly art classes for children and adults, Newport Harbor Art Museum will present 10 series for ages 6 to 15 in conjunction with its upcoming "Western Artists/African Art" exhibit.