The weather is warm and the school year is drawing to a close, much to the delight of kids, teachers and many parents.
As a parent or grandparent planning the summer, keeping your kids and grandkids healthy and safe will likely be at the top of your list. Taos is surrounded by natural beauty and rich with opportunities for outdoor, cultural and creative experiences this summer.
Planning activities that keep your child engaged is extremely beneficial, says Daniel Michaud, pediatric nurse practitioner with Taos Primary Care. He points out that while summer is a time of fun, it is also what health care providers refer to as "orthopedic season" because it is the time when the most bones are broken.
It is also when kids are most exposed to the dangers of water in swimming pools, lakes and ponds. Supervising kids at home and in organized activities and planning for safe experiences is key to preventing accidents.
"Wear helmets while bicycling, remember the sunscreen and stay well-hydrated are my top three recommendations," says Michaud. "We live at a high elevation and get more sun exposure, so sun protection is especially important, and it helps maintain the health of our skin in the long term. It is also dry, so we all need to remember to stay well-hydrated to avoid passing out."
Michaud is part of a new pediatric practice opening at Taos Primary Care. He hopes to bring his experience working in the emergency room at Children's Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado to the new practice in Taos, providing minor urgent care to his patients.
"We are aiming for same day appointments and short wait times," he says. "We are opening a brand new practice and welcome everyone."
With new pediatrician, Dr. Veronica Parker, the practice will also offer well-child care checkups. In the coming months, Koryn, the wife of Daniel Michaud, will be joining the practice as a nurse practitioner specializing in adult care, along with nurse practitioner Colleen Unkel, who is currently in the office at 1329 Gusdorf Road.
With all the outdoor opportunities and camps offered in and around Taos, kids and parents have many choices. Each one has its own way of helping kids stay healthy and engaged.
Local nonprofit Twirl will again offer its Inventors Summer Camp. Anais Rumfelt, the marketing and play space manager at Twirl, says "The Inventors Summer Camp stimulates the mind and is an alternative to playing video games. We have two breaks, so kids can get outside and play."
At the camp, kids get to explore and invent. Some of the activities take place outside, such as building and launching rockets. The program is offered in four different sessions beginning June 4.
"The Inventors Summer Camp offers hands-on projects and each day is different. It is not like school because the kids are up exploring and building things. This year the theme is superheroes, so the campers will have the chance to come up with their own superhero and construct costumes along with vehicles and houses. Most of the material will be recycled and upcycled," says Rumfelt. She adds that the camp is in its fourth year, and many campers are returning because they really seem to enjoy the experience.
Twirl offers scholarships for the summer camps, but they are already spoken for this year. Visit the Twirl website at twirltaos.org for more information.
Folk, Farm, and Forest Youth Camp is being offered this summer to give students 12-17 years old the chance to study medicinal plants and learn about permaculture and farming, along with folklore, music and art. Organizer Morgaine Witriol of Native Roots says, "The camp will be a chance for kids to explore land-based spirituality and engage in the great multicultural traditions of the surrounding area."
The classes will take place at Sol Feliz Farm and field trips will be taken to the mountains and Taos Pueblo. In addition to Witriol, teachers include Margaret Garcia, Miguel Santistevan, Alexandra Grajeda, Lucy McCall and Henrietta Gomez. In collaboration with nonprofit AIRE (Agriculture Implementation Research and Education), the camp will offer scholarships. For more information, visit nativerootshealing.com or call (914) 400-7558.
Lettuce Grow Farms and Educational Center offers summer programs for kids. Find out more at lettucegrowfarm.com.
The Field Institute of Taos offers both a day camp and wilderness adventures this summer. Susie Fiore, executive director, says, "A key to developing healthy kids is giving them opportunities to explore and adventure outdoors where they can move freely and breathe fresh air. Our programs develop a strong sense of place and connection with nature and community through engaging daily activities."
The FIT Neighborhood program offers swimming, tennis and other activities at Quail Ridge. The mountain and weekend camps include adventures to Taos Ski Valley and beyond with most of the time spent outdoors hiking and learning about the area's ecology and other subject areas. Scholarships are available for the mountain camp. For more information, visit fittaos.org.
Nonviolence Works offers outdoor camps for kids who are in their after-school programs and to others, if there is space available. Simon Torres, Nonviolence Works CEO says that the programs focus on the development of emotional tools, as well as staying active. "The kids learn to recognize emotions like anger and sadness and learn productive ways of dealing with them. We keep the kids active and moving through hiking, swimming, and visiting places like Wild Rivers. We go on a special excursion each year; last year we went to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe."
Two camps are offered: Familia y Mondo Outdoor Adventure Camp for ages 7-12 and Yermos y Montanos Outdoor Camp for ages 13-15. For more information on the program, contact Nonviolence Works at (575) 758-4297.
Writing and art
Writers 10-14 years old can be part of the SOMOS Young Writers Camp this June. Fiction, poetry, plays and the spoken word will be part of the curriculum, taught by local author John Biscello. A reading is planned at the end of the session. One partial scholarship is available. Contact email@example.com for information.
Summer art programs are being offered by the Harwood Museum. The first Saturday of every month, the museum program will be at the Farmers Market to host art activities. In addition, an Art Exploration for Teens will take place in June and a program called My Kid Could Do That for younger kids in July. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
True Kids 1 - Broadcasting Youth is putting together its youth radio and video production teams for summer, including a team that will provide full media coverage for the Music from Angel Fire Festival in August. Youth ages 14-20 interested in radio or video production, including some paid internships, can contact email@example.com to sign up.
Camps for crafts, theater, music, sports and every interest
Talpa Community Center offers sewing, ceramics, quilting and reading for ages seven and up to 13; call (575) 751-1014 to find out more.
Taos Day School at Taos Pueblo will offer a summer program in June and July for tribal members; contact them at (575) 758-3652. Many schools and churches have their own summer programs and there are a variety of sports camps happening this summer. For a partial list of summer camps, visit the Twirl website twirltaos.org.
With all these activities, one may be right for your kids and will keep them engaged and healthy this summer. A camp in the outdoors or one on creativity or culture could ignite a passion that will stay with them and enrich their lives far into the future.