Popular summer youth camp returning to Buhl Park

May 17—HERMITAGE — Time is running out to sign up for the annual Summer Camp at Buhl Park, which will offer local children the chance to spend some time outdoors while learning about nature.

The camp — a collaborative effort between Buhl Park and the city of Hermitage — will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 10 through July 19 at the park, city Director of Recreation and Community Events Jessica Gotch said.

Sign-ups for the camp will close at the end of the day Sunday, May 19.

Last year marked the first time Buhl Park and the city collaborated on a joint summer program; each previously offered its own, separate programs.

"It worked out well for us and the park last year, and the kids involved got to explore some different parts of the park they may not have experienced before," Gotch said.

Buhl Park Environmental Education Director Katie Nowland agreed that the partnership proved beneficial and said organizers hoped to build upon the "great" turnout at last year's camp.

"It was cool to have all of the families from our normal summer program and the families from Hermitage's summer rec program together here to spend some more time at the park," Nowland said.

This year will bring some changes, including a shift toward three separate stations that students will rotate through.

Gotch said there will be instruction for sports, STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math — and environmental education.

Gotch said organizers are partnering with Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, which aims to inspire and prepare young people for success. The group will provide some programs for this year's camp.

Other offerings will include special guests from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and visits by herb and plant expert April Claus and Carried Away Outfitters.

The Hermitage Fire Department will also go over fire safety with the children, display one of its trucks and spray the children with fire hoses, Gotch said.

"We tried to get a variety of things for the kids to enjoy this year," Gotch said.

Jungle Terry will give a program with animals for the first- and second-graders, while students in third through sixth grades will be able to use the park's swimming pool at certain times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Nowland said swimming at the pool was a popular activity for the children last year.

Another change this year is a focus on children entering first grade to those entering sixth grade, instead of including students entering kindergarten as well.

"There's a lot of growing up that takes place during that first year of kindergarten," Nowland said.

Those children who do participate in the summer camp often return with their parents throughout the year long after the camp has ended, Nowland said.

"We see more kids and parents at the park, and kids will recognize me whenever I do trips to schools," she said. "We even have some counselors who went through the camp as children."

As of Friday, Nowland said about 277 kids had registered.

To register before the deadline, visit the city's website at hermitage.net and click the "Registration" tab, which will lead to a "Summer Camp" tab.

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