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Leila S. Case: Summer activities for youth have wide range

Summer is here, though the official date is not until June 22. School is out and long, lazy days lie ahead with time for swimming, picnicking and reading. However, there is more to summer than that for students who need to be busy with fun, learning activities or they’re apt to find ways to get in trouble.
During summer months I met myself turning around in the road and going back again driving my children from one activity to another when they were growing up. They weren’t allowed to laze in front of the TV all day, so they participated on the swim team, played tennis and softball and spent a couple of weeks away at camp. Our daughters enjoyed art projects at a nearby shop making a variety of items — some of which I still have. When they turned 16, they had summer jobs.
All of this brings up the subject of what’s going on locally that young people can enjoy, learn something new, be among their friends and make new ones.
There are a variety of day activities from which to choose but why not participate in everything?
The Sumter County Parks and Recreation Department has a huge program from swim lessons to softball, disc golf and hiking trails. The Americus Arts Center has various classes while Lake Blackshear Regional Library is launching the popular story hours for young students, and when they participate they receive a free book.
Near and dear to my heart is the Missoula Children’s Theatre, a nationally acclaimed professional company that returns to the Rylander Theatre in downtown Americus for the 11th season the week of June 27-July 2. Registration is open for students in grades one through 12 and the fee is only $10 each. Availability is limited, so early registration is encouraged.
If you’re not familiar with the program, this is how it works. Originating from Missoula, Montana, two tour directors traveling with the show arrive in town in “the little red truck” containing all the scripts, costumes and set pieces needed to perform a full musical on the final day. Students audition for various roles on Monday and rehearsals begin immediately and continue daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., concluding with two performances on Saturday. This year’s production is a rock ‘n roll take on the classic fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.”
For the first time this year, the Sumter Historic Trust is offering a history camp for fifth- and sixth-grade students from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 11-15 at the Lee Council House. Campers will have the opportunity for hands-on learning about local history that includes Native American tribes, early settlers, the role Sumter County played in the Civil War, World War I, agriculture, planes and trains. Kathy Hagler is the lead teacher.
Something different and exciting is offered daily and features a tour of historic Americus with hands-on activities related to historical architecture, a visit to Andersonville where reenactors will demonstrate blacksmithing, the operation of the grist mill and tour of the Andersonville Historic Site and National POW Museum. The week concludes on the SAM Shortline train, traveling to Georgia  Veterans State Park with stops in Leslie and Plains.
The cost is $75 each and includes lunch, snacks and bottled water. Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. You can register online at http://www.sumterhistorictrust.org/history-camp.html or if you want additional information email SHTHistoryCamp@gmail.com. The history day camp is sponsored through the generosity of the Mix Foundation and the Charles R. Crisp Preservation Trust.
And check out the Peacebuilders Camp at Koinonia Farm if you want a week away at camp. Youth ages 11 to 14 spend a week together learning how to work toward peace and justice. Campers enjoy farm life, play games and sports, go on field trips, learn about human rights, make new friends, and explore the stories of peacemakers past and present. More information is on the web at peacebuilderscamp.org.
Out and about: After concluding a successful race for reelection on the Sumter County School board, Sylvia Roland is off again. This time she’s meeting her Hendrix College friends for a 10-day bike tour in Italy. Sylvia says they will cover about 25 each day, cycling along the coastal roads overlooking the Adriatic Sea and learn more about the local culture at home-hosted meals, olive oil tastings and visit the iconic trulli houses of Alberobella. A perfect way to stay fit. Sylvia and her biking friends make several trips annually and more are planned.
Meanwhile, the Friends of Lake Blackshear Regional Library hosted a delightful evening last Tuesday when author Gwen Roland discussed her books, “Postmark Bayou Chene” — a novel set in the Louisiana bayou country — and “Atchafalaya Houseboat” — a memoir of living on a houseboat in the 1970s. Roland captivated her audience, reading excerpts from her books and discussing her life. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire event.
Bill Krenson is recuperating from hip replacement surgery while Carol Zabadah Brown celebrated her birthday at Pat’s Place, and Clara Grace Shivers turned five at a swim party.
Don’t forget the annual Memorial Day Service honoring U.S. military personnel at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Andersonville Historic Site. It is always a stirring event.

Leila S. Case lives in Americus.