Kids’ Almanac: Special camps & hamster pants, skulls & bones & musical tones


“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.”
– Flannery O’Connor


Young Writers’ Programs in Hyde Park & New Paltz

Whether your children attend public school, private school or are homeschooled, writing enrichment is available to all, from ages 7 to 17, through the Hudson Valley Writing Project’s Summer 2015 Young Writers’ Programs. What I appreciate about these programs are the profound physical connections that the students get to make, even before they read or write a word, simply due to where they’re being held. Sessions run throughout the summer at a variety of Hudson Valley locations, specifically to draw from the cultural, biological and historical perspectives unique to that place.

For example, from Monday to Friday, July 20 to 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a group of students between 12 and 16 years of age will spend the week at the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt National Historic Sites in Hyde Park for the session “Writing into History.” Working with National Park Service ranger Susanne Norris, Arlington Middle School Social Studies teacher Eric Fiore and Poughkeepsie Day School teacher Dorothy Luongo, students will explore fundamental questions about human rights; imagine the varied perspectives on that land from the point of view of the Native Americans, the Roosevelts and the Vanderbilts; and learn about the National Park Service, including envisioning what the land would have looked like 100 years ago and discovering the meaning of the symbols of the National Park Service badge. In addition to having their own experience on the land, students will read from primary sources such as Eleanor Roosevelt’s My Day syndicated newspaper columns and Native American legends.

Another place-based program for this age group is “Exploring Nature and History on Huguenot Street” in New Paltz from August 3 to 7, which draws from this historic road with its original stone houses; hiking in the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary; and visits to Huguenot Street Farm, all intended to expand and enrich the students’ foundation of creativity for writing. For both programs, the students read their essays or poems to an audience at their group’s end-celebration, and their work will be published in a group anthology.

The cost for “Writing into History” and “Exploring Nature and History on Huguenot Street” is $295 per program, and scholarships are available. For more information about the full schedule of offerings or to register, call (845) 257-2847, e-mail [email protected] or visit


Help kids with autism attend Ashokan Center’s Camp Whirligig 

Planning a family vacation can be hard enough to schedule, but for families living with autism, the dynamics can be much more complicated than that. For an entire family to spend quality time together in a fun, supportive, nurturing environment while meeting the needs of individual family members who require special assistance or accommodations? It’s a pretty tall order. But now, there’s “Camp Whirligig: A Music & Dance Camp for Families Living with Autism,” a weekend away for the entire family at the Ashokan Center. Camp Whirligig takes place from Friday to Sunday, August 28 to 30.

Right now, despite the absolute demand for a program like this one, it is severely underenrolled, and the reason appears to be prohibitive cost. At $350 per person for the camp program fee, this may be out of reach for families funding essential therapies and medical costs. The Camp Whirligig coordinators are inviting interested donors to contribute toward a $5,000 scholarship fund to help enable families to attend this amazing weekend. And since the Ashokan Center is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, your gift, specifically designated for Camp Whirligig, is fully tax-deductible.

The Ashokan Center is located at 477 Beaverkill Road in Olivebridge. For more information or to donate, call (845) 657-8333 or visit



Check out kids’ music stage at Rosendale Street Fest

As you plan out your clothing for the weekend, you might want to “…grab your hamster pants…for the big hamster dance…in the middle of Hamsterdam…” Well, what I mean, in quoting these Ratboy, Jr. lyrics, is to grab your comfy clothes and head for the Rosendale Street Festival, which takes place this Saturday, July 18 from 12 noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 19 from 12 noon to 7 p.m. The Rosendale Street Festival is a weekend filled with music on six stages, including performances by children’s bands Fuzzy Lollipop on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Ratboy, Jr. on Sunday at 4 p.m., and even a production of the Sojourner Truth Youth Theatre’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Admission to the festival is free, but attendees are asked to donate $5 to help cover expenses. The festival takes place outdoors all along Main Street in Rosendale, so remember to pack extra water and sunscreen for the kids. For more information, visit


Kidz Bop at Bethel Woods

Do you enjoy hearing your kids sing and dance along to pop music, but cringe a little at the lyrics sometimes? It’s Kidz Bop to the rescue! The Kidz Bop Kids sing top hits with gentle adjustments to any of the original mature lyrics, and kids love it! If it’s a hit song, Kidz Bop either has it on an album, or they’re working on it!

So your family will be thrilled to learn that Kidz Bop is coming to Bethel Woods for a live performance in the Pavilion this Saturday, July 18 as part of its Make Some Noise tour. Kidz Bop’s newest album #29 just came out and features hits like “Sugar,” “Style,” “Centuries,” “See You Again” and more. The doors open at 3 p.m., and the concert begins at 4 p.m. with teen Eva Agathis, a former Kidz Bop Kid herself. Tickets cost $38.50 for reserved seating and $64 for VIP Meet & Greet.

Bethel Woods is located at 200 Hurd Road in Bethel, the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Leave extra time to visit the museum while you’re there! For tickets or more information, visit To learn more about the performers, visit




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