What are you doing with you children or child this summer? This is a question we should have been asking ourselves weeks and maybe even months ago. It takes planning, organizing and usually some money saved up.

I was sitting here the other day thinking about Greenwood Schools being over. I thought back to when my kids were little and what I did about the situation. I often worked full time and that included summers. I remember getting them involved in Community programs such as "The Big Brother" and "The Big Sister" Program. This was because my husband was overseas one year and the kids and I were back here in the States. It was difficult keeping them busy but I managed somehow, but it took help. When they were old enough they played soccer and baseball. They were taught to love reading and they spent hours reading books.

When they were teenagers and it was summer I got them involved with programs that cost money. I sent them to camps, got them involved with summer education projects, sports etc. But I remember it took work and research to find the right program for them during the summer. I didn’t believe in letting them be idle with nothing to do. No sitting around watching TV for my kids and no playing the computer all day.

But lets come back to the present here in Greenwood, AR. Now that school is over there will be thousands of children out on our streets with little to do unless someone organizes them and gives them something to do. Times have changed and almost every family has both mother and father working. It is so bad financially that you often find Grandma and Grandpa working later into their retirement also. There is nobody around to watch these kids. The community is left with the burden and I hope they are prepared.

I have no kids at home anymore but I do have grandchildren. The two younger ones are being taken care of, but what of the teenagers? Jobs are hard to find for many of them, and the community leaves much of the responsibility up to the parents. But many parents can’t cope with the stress and the extra charge of keeping the older kids involved in some sort of program. I also have teenagers for grandchildren. It takes more and more money to keep them happy the older they get. Keeping them busy takes a person with a bigger IQ then I have. You have to find something they want to do that doesn’t cost a million dollars. Anyone have an idea??

After some research I found out that there are lots of things for kids to do in the area. This week there are lots of Sports camps going on. They have baseball camp etc. Kids were sent forms home from school and if they gave them to their parents, something could have been planned ahead. I asked why all the camps were this week and then nothing the rest of the summer. I was told that they wanted to get everything over with so not to interfere with family vacation time. But how many families can’t afford to take a vacation? So what happens to the kids for the rest of the summer?

I believe in getting your children involved in a variety of opportunities. I did it with my children but then I never forced them to continue in something they weren’t interested in. But I did feel it necessary for them to at least try something once. Child experts on education believe it is important for their development to give them hands on teaching by letting them get involved in a variety of learning experiences.

I found out that this area offers Art lessons and even an Art Camp. You call 479-561-2321 for information or go to the internet at www.virtualatzone.com/artclasses/ The classes are for children 8 and up. I also know for a fact that all the libraries are offering summer reading programs. Contact you local library for more details. They offer some wonderful and fun programs. If you check out the Fort Smith Entertainment Magazine you will find it full of ideas. They offer free square dancing lessons in the area, photography shows etc. You can find dates for music shows, special events and many more ideas. Don’t forget you Fort Smith History Museum or take the kids to Tulsa or Little Rock Museums. Most of our local churches offer Vacation Bible School and other summer programs for kids. There is Church Summer Camp and other opportunities available so talk to your church.

June 10 to June 14 Greenwood High School is offering a Band Camp. Check with you school administration office. There is also Boy and Girl Scout camps. My 11 year old grandson goes to Boy Scout camp next week. In July there will be a Program involving football. It is 4 weeks that works with your child on speed and endurance. It is for children in grades 4 and up.

There is the Sebastian County Boys and Girls Clubs at 38 North Hester Cut in Greenwood. They have been busy with baseball programs but they offer many other activities. Call 479-252-0389 or stop in and ask what is available for the summer.

There is also 4-H programs and the Sebastian County Fair to get involved with. For the 4-H program call 479-484-7734.

Sebastian County Extension Homemakers Clubs offer programs for children, call them at 479-996-4943.

If all this sounds like too much, just approach it the old fashioned way. If you can be home with your child or children you can be inventive and imaginative and keep them busy yourself. Let them help you with your gardening, take them fishing, teach them a new craft project, listen to music with them, teach them to type on the computer, take them to a free concert in the park. Just remember, the average young person has a short attention span. You may need to break up you day with several activities. Kids are like sponges, they can learn quickly if you are patient and let them learn by a hands on approach. Kids don’t need a lot of money spent on them, they just need attention. Take a walk with them, talk to them, spend time with them and they will love you for it.