Top summer tips for healthy kids
• Keep them busy
• Provide healthy snacks
• Encourage outdoor playtime
Taos is a great place to be a kid in so many ways, especially during the summer. With mountains, mesas and rivers surrounding us on public lands there are places to hike, fish and camp. Our rich cultural character creates opportunities for kids to learn about art, writing, technology and their own community. Many of these programs are free, low-cost or supported by scholarships.
It's important to keep kids active and engaged during the summer months. Recent studies show that kids are more likely to gain weight during the summer without the structure of school to keep them busy and active. Parents can help by keeping healthy snacks in the house and by finding activities that kids enjoy that keep them moving. Although kids may like having more time to watch TV, play video games and otherwise relax, too much of that time can lead to boredom, along with weight gain or the beginning of other negative habits.
Here is a sampling of some of the programs available this summer for kids. For a more extensive list, visit the Twirl website, twirltaos.org, or check with your school, church or sports program.
Outdoor play and camps
Field Institute of Taos
The Field Institute of Taos offers daily activities, as well as overnight trips for kids. "We want to get as many young people as possible to experience meaningful outdoor adventures focused on all that this beautiful area has to offer," said executive director Susie Fiore. "Throughout the year, we reach over 1,000 youth through our various outdoor education programs including summer day camps, camping/backpacking trips, school environmental education, after-school cycling programs, free youth mountain biking (Trips for Kids-Taos), an inclusive cycling team (Team FITaos), a high school mountain bike team and FIT Neighborhood camp."
There are still spaces in the summer adventure program for kids entering fourth through seventh grades. This program explores a different place every day, including some overnight camping trips. The day program, FIT Neighborhood, takes place at Quail Ridge for kids ages 5-11 and doesn't require advance registration.
There are scholarships available for all of the mountain camp sessions, as well as limited scholarships for the FIT Neighborhood program. "We do not want finances to be a barrier in access to our programs," said Fiore. "Field Institute of Taos believes that everyone deserves the freedom, growth and camaraderie that can only be found in natural spaces. As a nonprofit, we are fortunate to have the support of many individuals and businesses both here in Taos and beyond."
Fiore said that the camp staff are all experienced outdoor leaders with deep knowledge of the local natural environment, a gift for working with youth and a desire to make a difference in the community.
Twirl is a nonprofit play space located in downtown Taos. Their mission is to support the growth and potential of children in Taos through inspirational, community-wide opportunities to gather, learn, create and enjoy.
Twirl will have their playground open for summer fun. "Come and play," said Anais Rumfelt, the play space and marketing manager. In addition, Twirl will be partnering with other community organizations to provide field trips and enrichment activities. On the Twirl website, there is a description of their summer programs, along with an extensive list of other summer programs.
Taos Behavioral Health summer programs
Taos Behavioral Health will offer Summer Therapeutic Teen Groups for high school (Tuesday/Thursday) and middle school students (Monday/Wednesday). Lunch will be available and there will be activities like gardening, swimming, bowling and field trips. It is open to any student, including those who attend private schools or are home-schooled. The program is available on a drop-in basis and no-registration is required. It is free with the appropriate insurance. Organizer Sadie Quintanilla said the program allows enough flexibility that kids still get plenty of downtime during the summer, while offering some support, socializing and structure for the summer. Taos Behavioral Health also offer programs for elementary school students.
Visual arts and writing
The Harwood Museum is hosting John Biscello's Young Writers Camp for fifth through eighth graders, June 24-28 with a reading of participants' work on June 28. Cost is $125 for the general public and $100 for museum members at the family level or above. Contact Jayne Schell, the head of youth education, at (575) 758-9826 x108 for sliding fees and sibling discounts.
"The 'My Kid Could Do That' workshop is back by popular demand," said Schell, "We will be exploring textile arts and summer themes this year." The workshop runs July 9- July 12 with a reception and exhibit of the work created July 12. Ages 5 and up are welcome. Cost is $100 for general public and $80 for museum members at the family level and above. Contact Schell for sliding fees and sibling discounts.
Other programs include Art in the Schools, which continues through June and July with summer school students. There may be a teen art salon as a weekly series, as well. The Harwood staff hope to be at the Farmers Market June 29 and July 27 with drop-in art activities for kids, between 9 a.m. and noon.
Millicent Rogers Museum
The Millicent Rogers Museum will be hosting a Big Brothers Big Sisters Field Community event. It will be held on June 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Carson National Forest, along with Big Brothers, Big Sisters will partner with the museum for the event and there will be indoor and outdoor activities for kids and their families, including a mini-archaeology fair.
There will also be free art classes in June and July taught by Michael Hensley.
The Society of the Muse of the Southwest will host a free young writers camp Monday-Wednesday from June 24-29, sponsored by the Hochberg Summer Creative Writing Program workshops of the New Mexico School of Arts in Santa Fe for students entering sixth to ninth grades. Lunch will be provided and there will be a reading for parents and friends at the end.
Community and technology
Taos Day School
For students of Taos Day School, Taos Day School Summer Camp in June offers enrichment, recreation, field trips and community service.
Talpa Community Center
Talpa Community Center has sewing classes for preteens on the second Saturday of the month and ceramics on the third Saturday. All of the kids involved in those programs are encouraged to participate in the reading program, too. When a kid finishes a book, they write a paragraph about it and receive some rewards. They also earn points toward funds that are paid out near Christmas.
True Kids 1
True Kids 1 is offering summer camps for youth ages 9-17 in New Mexico. There will be three free one-week coding camps for middle school students given by Taos Youth Software at University of New Mexico-Taos. There is also a free three-week Human Rights/Video Production camp at Moving Arts Española with Kids for Global Peace from July 1-19.
True Kids 1 youth radio and video productions are ongoing and will include full media coverage of the Music for Angel Fire Festival.
For more information
Visit Twirl at twirltaos.org.
For more information on Field Institute of Taos, visit fitaos.org.
Taos Behavioral Health also offers programs for elementary school students, in addition to their program for middle and high school students. Call Sadie Quintanilla at (575) 779-1214 or (575) 758-4297 for more information.
Find out more about the Harwood Museum of Art, by contacting Jayne Schell at (575) 758-9826 x108 or visit harwoodmuseum.org.
For Millicent Rogers Museum programs, contact Kathryn Ritter, museum education coordinator at (575) 758-2462 or visit millicentrogers.org.
Contact information for SOMOS is (575) 758-0081 or somostaos.org.
Call Taos Day School at (575) 758-3652.
For more information about the Talpa Community Center programs, call Effie or Lucita at (575) 751-1014.
To find out more about True Kids 1 coding camps taosyouthsoftware.org or call Kiersten (575) 770-1518. To get involved and learn more about all their programs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (575) 779-4400.
Four tips for keeping kids safe this summer
1. Swim safely
Keep an eye on kids when they are around the water. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. Even children who are strong swimmers are at risk, so it's important to watch kids at all times
2. Beat the heat
Basking in the sun and heat are one of the joys of summer, but also one of the dangers. To beat the heat, keep babies and young children in the shade. Protect everyone with hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. Dress kids in loose comfortable clothing and keep them hydrated with water.
3. Safe cycling
Wheels add to summer fun. Kids on bikes, skateboards, scooters and inline skates should learn how to ride in a safe space such as a driveway or empty parking lot. Wear helmets and other protective gear. Dress in bright clothes and use lights at dusk.
4. Fight bites
Biting insects are as much a part of our summers as long, lazy days. Ticks can transmit Lyme and other diseases, while mosquitoes are carriers of several diseases including West Nile and Zika. To fight bites during summer fun, cover up and wear long sleeves and long pants in areas where mosquitoes are active. Avoid prime mosquito time, which begins at dusk. Use insect repellent and check for ticks.
From the Mayo Clinic - for more information visit mayoclinic.org.
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