Playtime: From circus camp to archery, ideas for summer fun

Archery camp in Mountlake Terrace.

“They take turns,” my husband says with the authority of someone who is always right on a certain subject. My kids seem to trade off carrying the baton of “kid-with-some-level-of-turmoil,” and in this transition, when we ask ourselves “What is even happening?” the light bulb goes off as he typically puts the pieces together first.

They’ve both been diagnosed with learning disabilities, which I’d prefer to call “differences” because they learn just fine if taught in other ways, but that’s a whole different story. While we were dealing with one’s litany of tests and questionnaires about, you know, what I watched on TV while I was pregnant, the other would seem to be in a calmer grade/rhythm/age range and vice versa.

All of this is a superstitious preface/qualifier for what I really want to say, which is, both my kids have found something they are currently enjoying that “fills their bucket,” which is organic and not only fed by parent or peer pressure. Can you feel my husband looking at me with the “why-jinx-it” face? Because I can.

Along the road of meeting other kids and families and seeing what floats their kids’ boats, I’ve learned about some fun and interesting kinds of activities — things other than the mainstream activities or events with a twist on those that are more popular. I wanted to share some of the options we’ve come across via friends or suggestions from Debbie Johnson at Edmonds Parks and Recreation.

A couple of years ago at the Frances Anderson Center, we ran into friends coming out of a “circus” camp. The Craze magazine description of the “Circus Arts & Artistic Gymnastics Camp” includes all the things you might expect in a class with that name. Campers, ages 7 to 14, gain exposure to basic juggling and circus skills including rolling globe, rola-bola, stilts, low tightwire and trapeze. Beginner-intermediate level gymnastics is used as well. Two sessions of this camp are offered this summer: next week, July 24-27, which per has two spots left and Aug. 7-10, which has a few more spots available.

Another great option we’ve participated in via France Anderson Center is the Discovery Program Camps. These camps, led by interpretive specialists and ranger naturalists, are a great mix of getting dirty and tired while also learning. Next week, Junior Beach Rangers II is being offered for campers ages 8 to 10. Each camper who discovers Edmonds’ Marine Sanctuary through “activities, games and crafts” will be awarded a Beach Ranger badge at the end of the week. A new Discovery Program offering for campers age 6 to 8, Nature Explorers, is the week of Aug. 21-25. This camp, with a focus on the ”wild side” of Edmonds’ forest, parks and beaches, also offers games and crafts.

For the older campers, ages 9 to 12, the Junior Naturalists camps is offered from Aug. 7-11. These campers will learn just what professional naturalists do. This includes animal tracking, nature journaling, bird identification, and the use of scientific tools while exploring the forest, marsh and intertidal habitats of Edmonds.

For information on all the camps offered through the City of Edmonds, you can either call 425-771-0230 or visit

Having a drummer in the house has really expanded my horizons on the different options when it comes to percussion. While my oldest has taken years of lessons at Seattle Drum School of Music, he recently finished up the Edmonds Summer Music School, where he was able to play the steel drums, learn about and participate in a Korean drumming class, and watch his fellow musicians perform what they learned in their marimba and conga classes. Besides Summer Music School, which I couldn’t recommend more (for next summer, of course), there are both steel drum and marimba camp options in Edmonds.

Steel Drum Camp has three different offerings the week of Aug. 14-18. A morning camp for 5th and 6th graders, an afternoon offering for 7th through 12th graders, and an evening offering for anyone older than that. The classes are taught by internationally known steel pan artist and local teacher, Gary Gibson, and the description explains that “learning music on the steel pan has a gentler initial learning curve than other traditional instruments”  — and no prior musical experience is necessary. The camp meets at Steel Magic Northwest’s space at Edmonds Adventist Church, 8625 196th St. S.W. in Edmonds. You can register for this class at and can always get more information from Gary Gibson by email at

Marimba camp at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

The Edmonds Center for the Arts has two marimba offerings this summer. The Rhythm Generation: Intergenerational Marimba Camp, Aug. 7-11, which mixes teenagers with those over 60 for a fun week of music and leadership and mentoring opportunities. They are also offering Rockin’ Rhythms Marimba Camp with Youth Marimba Workshop, July 31-Aug. 1, for campers ages 7 to 11. This “hands-on” music class helps campers “learn by ear with a humorous, kid-centered approach” that includes interactive movement and community-building drum circle games. No experience is necessary to take this class which welcomes all skill levels.

For information or to register you can reach the ECA online or by calling 425-275-9595.

The last time I was surprised by a friend telling me about their kid’s latest activity was archery. As it turns out, there is an archery facility in Mountlake Terrace, right next to the Olympic View Ice Arena on 70th Avenue West off 220th. Most people are just surprised there is an ice arena back there, behind the bingo place that is across from Premera — and even though I spend so much of hockey season right down the street, I had no idea about Next Step Archery. Located at 22313 70th Ave West, Suite U1A in Mountlake Terrace, they offer an array of archery options from private lessons to mini camps to birthday parties. The summer mini camps for those ages 8 and up, and campers can learn the basics of archery: equipment, safety, aiming and scoring.

For more information on the offerings from Next Step Archery in MLT you can find them online or reach them at 425-977-2770.

By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, a mom of two young boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time. You can find her on Twitter trying to make sense of begging kids to ”just eat the mac n cheese” @jen_marx.

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