Campers participate in an archery clinic put on by Jay’s Sporting Goods out of Gaylord as part of the Harborage day camps. Each week is themed and has activities planned around that theme, this weeks theme was Camp Half Blood based around the Percy Jackson book series. The Harborage opened on May 14, 2014 starting with three campers and now has a daily average of 32 kids. Campers can attend for a day, a week or the entire summer. After school camps will continue throughout the school year.
By Mark Flemming, Harbor Light Newspaper
Kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, playing and learning. Sound like the greatest week of day camp ever? Lots of local and summer young residents would agree-- and are getting to experience it-- thanks to a host of programs at The Harborage, the Harbor Springs Community Schools enrichment program.
The Harborage was started in mid-May to meet a growing need for afterschool and summer programming. Keeping in mind the school district's strategic plan goal of connecting learning experiences with the local community, weekly themes such as Outdoor Adventures, ArtVentures and Harbor Appreciation were created. All school-age children are welcome, and kids can come for the day or week and participate in whatever adventures are in store.
"We started with three kids, and this week we are averaging 32 kids a day," said Harborage director Mari Schumaker. "We have been able to do lots of cool things. It was important to me when we started this that there would be a lot of unique opportunities available."
Pricing on general camp days start at $18.00 for a half day, $25.00 for a full day and $115.00 for a full week. Each week's designated theme is predetermined to help campers and parents decide when the would prefer to attend.
"As a parent, I don't mind paying for my kids to go do something, but we really wanted to make the parents feel like they were getting their money's worth by providing the kids with a lot of great learning/recreational activities," Schumaker explained.
Premium camps, like this week's "Percy Jackson" themed camp, are priced separately. Information on the different themed day-camps can be found on the Harborage website.
"We have several kids that come two or three times a week. We have one kid that comes every morning just for a half day. We are willing to work with the parents as long as they let us know ahead of time what they would like," Schumaker said of the regular Harborage schedule.
The Harborage opens its doors at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and wraps up a full day between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. with separate morning and afternoon activities.
"It is fun because its constantly changing," said Schumaker. "I can see where daycare people can get frustrated because its the same routine every day. Our program offers these drastically different thematic weeks, which makes it more exciting for everyone. The kids are excited all week long. We don't want it to be like a daycare; we try and make it so the kids want to come."
"The very first week of The Harborage, we had farm camp and we went out to Pond Hill and the kids learned about gardening and farming. Then they went to Rising Hope and learned about horses, and now we have gardens growing behind Shay Elementary School (The Harborage's homebase)," Schumaker explained. "The next week was 'Harbor Appreciation' week. We went down to the water and met with Kira Davis from the (Odawa Indian) tribe and did water quality testing with the kids. The kids made popsicle stick boats to race. One day, we went to the Harbor Springs History Museum and (executive director) Mary Cumings had a couple of key things she talked about, and then the kids split up into groups and went on a huge treasure hunt around town remembering the clues Mary had told them."
"It's a really fun job. Our assistant director, Steve Corlew, has been awesome. He and his wife recently moved here from Grayling. He's an avid paddler and all-around avid outdoorsman. He was a former member of the US kayak team and the kids just love him. Day one of Outdoor Adventure week he went into a story about when he summitted Mount Rainier. He had all his gear with him, so the kids obviously thought that was pretty cool."
The Harborage also offers tennis lessons from Harbor Springs High School tennis coach Laura Chamberlain on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as golf lessons several times a week.
"Three of our instructors are certified by the First Tee organization, so three days a week we are teaching golf."
Activities at The Harborage aren't limited to the summer. After the summer camps end, weekly after-school themes will continue throughout the year, with the added bonus of a half-hour of homework/tutoring time built into the schedule.
The Harborage is open to any children interested, not just those who are part of the Harbor Springs school district.
To register or learn more call (231) 526-4840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.