Summer camps

Yes, children, you could sit home all summer in your air-conditioned domicile, playing Xbox or Farmville.

You could join your grandmother in watching “Days of Our Lives.”

What fun would that be?!

Organizations around the area have planned myriad activities to keep children safe and involved in something while school is out for the summer.

During the after-school karate program Tuesday at the Ely Chapman Education Foundation, 403 Scammel St., Sensei Eric Seckman, teaches his young charges basic karate moves. He also has each student recite his or her home address and phone number. That helps them and their parents in emergencies.

If the child is separated from Mom or Dad, Seckman said the karate and being able to give basic information to a police officer or trusted adult can help the child.

“We learn how to defend ourselves and how to protect ourselves, especially in this age,” Seckman said.

Ely Chapman continues many of its programs, including karate, during the summer in an effort to offset what’s know in education circles as the “summer slide.”

Two steps forward, three steps back

Alice E. Chapman, chairwoman and founder of the Ely Chapman Education Foundation, said students can lose up to two months of instruction during the summer if they are not involved in structured activities. That even includes physical activity.

One of the researchers in the field, Harris Copper, reported in 1996 that students who are away from the structure of a classroom setting go through a learning loss, especially in language arts and math, according to the website

“The summer break has roughly equal negative effects on the math skills of students from middle and lower income families, but greater negative effects on the reading skills of lower income students,” Copper said of his research.

The body

and the mind

“Kids who sit at home with childhood obesity and diabetes playing on their Xbox tend to lose some of what they learned in school,” said Marietta Family YMCA childcare director Angie Scott. “They need to keep their brains going.”

Scott said the Y offers Camp W.I.L.D. from 6:45 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday through Friday for 10 weeks for kindergartners through eighth-graders. Camp Caterpillar will serve 4- to 5-year-olds from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for 10 weeks.

The camps include games, sports, recreational activities such as fishing and two field trips per week. The program allows children the opportunity to learn socialization, to follow rules and the importance of physical activity and healthy eating.

Jason Schob, physical education teacher at Washington and Harmar elementary schools, said the government recommends at least 15 minutes of activity every single day for children. Even if a child doesn’t want to or cannot attend a camp, parents should encourage them to be active.

Schob suggests having them play outside or get into a game of pickup basketball, kick the can, tag or simply tossing around a football or a baseball.

“We would be out from sunup to sundown,” when we were kids, Schob said.

Digging up

Marietta’s Past

The Castle, 418 Fourth St., might be known for its ghosts and Halloween activities; however, this summer, it is inviting children to be a part of its history camps and to get dirty in the process.

For incoming sixth-, seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, The Castle is offering an archeology camp from 9 a.m. to noon July 22-25.

Education Director Leah Magyary said archaeologist Wes Clarke will lead a real-life dig in the side yard of the building. Pottery shards already have been found there, Magyary said.

For the younger students, The Castle has a history camp planned July 8-12 for incoming third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. Activities will include trips to the Ohio River Museum in Marietta and Blennerhassett Island in Parkersburg.

New for the students this year will be learning to use maps and compasses, sort of a low-tech geocaching, she said.

“The summer is a great time for children to do what they don’t have time to do during the school year,” Magyary said. “You still can be learning during the summer, make it fun and be outdoors. We live in a wonderful town for learning about Marietta. Historically, it is important to get kids involved in Marietta.”