The school year is winding down but it won't be long before parents hear the dreaded words, "there's nothing to do!" Aside from summer camps that can sometimes cost a lot of money, there are several alternatives locally for parents seeking an end to the cries of boredom.
One of the most popular free events is Summer Swim and Play, provided by the City of Marietta. The event will be held again this year at Indian Acres and the aquatic center from June 13 through August 5. The event, which will be from 9 a.m. to noon, is open to every city resident between the ages of 5 and 13. There is no income requirement and free lunch will be provided. Parents are welcome to send kids for the entire time or for just an hour or two if that's all that is needed.
"It's really popular," said Susan Joyce with the city recreation department. "The kids get to play games, they swim three days a week and sometimes we'll have speakers."
Joyce said roughly 60 youngsters register each year. This year's registration will take place at Indian Acres on June 10 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Buses will also pick up children from Washington School around 9:04 a.m. and at Phillips at 8:20 a.m.
For many kids in the area, this program is important not only socially but is sometimes the only way they can eat, according to Jennifer "Fred" Parrish who runs the free food program through the county.
Lunches are provided through the county at the following locations:
City of Marietta Summer Swim and Play program - free to all city residents
Salvation Army - for those enrolled
Betsey Mills - for those enrolled
ARC of Washington County - for those enrolled
Ewing School summer camp - for those enrolled
Source: Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities
USDA Summer Food Service Program
For youth 18 and under - June 21 through Aug. 12.
Old New Matamoras Elementary - (740) 373-3455
Morgan Metropolitan Housing Authority - (740) 962-3827
Malta United Methodist Church - (740) 962-3827.
Source: Washington-Morgan Community Action
Summer activity ideas
Washington County Public Library programs
Vacation Bible school
Safetytown for 4- and 5-year-olds
Free summer camps at Washington State for middle and high school students
Swim and Play at Indian Acres and Marietta Aquatic Center
City of Marietta youth basketball
Go to a matinee of a movie or check out a youth play
Visit some museums in the area
Take a walk or hike
Source: Times research
"This is the best meal - sometimes the only meal - a lot of these kids have," she said.
The city's program is one of five for which the county supplies free meals, although the other four are for children who are already enrolled in a camp or program.
If parents are looking for somewhere to take their kids that isn't necessarily an all-day thing but rather a chance to get out for a little while, there are hour-long programs at the local library branches being offered.
"We try to have something for every day of the week," said Susan Chipps, manager of the Beverly branch of the Washington County library. "And we tell parents if maybe they need that hour to go to the store or run errands, it's a safe place for the kids."
Story Time for preschoolers and caregivers is offered Wednesdays at 11 a.m., World Travelers is a program held on Tuesdays at 11 a.m., craft activities are on Friday mornings and family movie nights are held each Monday.
All programs are free of charge. The summer reading program only requires signing up.
"We want to get them to love reading," Chipps said.
Another annual free event is also gearing up, when different communities will hold Safetytown for area children. Marietta will hold their event June 20 through 30 with morning and afternoon sessions and there is still time to sign up, according to officials at Harmar School where the event is held each year. Sign-ups are available at the school. Children heading into kindergarten or those who didn't attend before kindergarten last year are also still welcome to sign up at Beverly-Center elementary where the Beverly Lions Club is sponsoring Safetytown there beginning June 6.