Santa Maria Sun> Wednesday, May 31, 2023     Volume 23, Issue 79   
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Dear moms, dads, tots, and teens,

If you've gone on a long car ride with me or my little brother, then you've heard the song. Chances are if you're a child under 12, I've taught you to sing along and perform some convincing air guitar as accompaniment. It's called "Wild Berries," and it was conceived in a fit of the giggles at a campfire session at Cove, the all-time coolest church camp of all church camps.

For me, the song will always encapsulate the best of an era, akin to a kind of inside joke, which when delivered at just the right time envokes every good memory of my childhood all at once. But this is the Kids' Summer Guide, and it's all about sharing, letting you in on all the best summer has to offer. So in that vein, I'll let you in on this joke, as much as is possible in print at least.

The basic chorus begins simple enough "Going to the mountain/Going to the valley/Going to the mountain/I'm going to pick wild berries." The tune itself isn't super important, but it must be sung John Denver style. Think "Mountain Mama." The chorus follows with a much more raucous "Wild berries, wild berries/Pick them, pick them," sung ala Sex Pistols at the top of your lungs. Think Sid Vicious and add the air guitar. Now repeat two more times, except on the second version exchange "pick" for "eat," and on the final version, insert "puke" and really yell it out. Yes, puke! Hee hee, hee hee. Makes me laugh every time.

OK, maybe you had to be there. Or maybe you need to find your own "there." It's no secret that some of the best memories are made at summer camps, whether it's a traditional overnight camp like the one me and my brother attended for years, or a crazy arts camp where you bond with all the other creatively-inclined kids who somehow you never noticed or met in the school-year classroom.

All kids have to do to make those memories happen is show up it's the adults who've got to the do the planning. This is your guide. We've even organized it for you. Traditional camps come first, with those camps closest to Santa Maria listed first. All the other summer activities, such as sports and arts camps, are listed in chronological order. We figured you'd want to sign them up for the first thing, first, and the last thing, last.

Among the listings, you'll find those week-long adventures like Camp Whittier. Just one of the summer programs offered by the Boys and Girls Club of the Santa Maria Valley, Whittier's got all those time-tested activities that we associate with camp nature education, swimming, arts and crafts, and of course campfire as well as some more unique offerings like rock climbing and a ropes course.

You'll also find a myriad of ways to keep your little athlete occupied, from track meets and basketball clinics to the Aquacubs Competitive Swim Skills class for the little guy who can't quite make it across the pool yet. We've also included camps up north to San Luis Obispo, if the offerings seemed in some way unique. For instance, we were excited to find that the Pacific Repertory Opera is offering an Opera Day Camp that will give the youngest divas a chance to strut their stuff and belt out some kid-size arias. The point is, whatever your child's style, there's something here for them.

Even today, summer feels like "kid time" to me, like in the movie "Goonies" when our child hero Mikey Walsh convinces his friends to stick it out in their underground pursuit of pirate treasure by declaring, "This is our time. Up there, it's their time, their time. But down here it's our time, our time!" Summer's long days, warm weather, school-free fun time these all belong to children. It's our job as grown-ups to help them fill that time with activities that will spark their imagination, challenge their minds, exercise their bodies, and generally make them the happy, healthy, well-rounded human beings we so want them to be. Otherwise, they might end up singing something silly like "Wild Berries" on every long car ride for their rest of their lives. And believe me, you don't want that.

Best of luck!

Kirsten Flagg,



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