Baltimore County Now
Intern, Baltimore County Communications Office
As I continue to make the transition into adulthood, I often find myself taking trips down memory lane. I recall racing home from school and flying through my homework so that I could get outside to a game of touch football or pick-up basketball with the other neighborhood kids. Before we knew it the sun would vanish and we’d all be heading in, ready to do it all over again the next day. Those were the good days, as many older adults might say.
But it seems as though today’s youth has a different idea of what makes a day good. Hours upon hours of fast-moving images on a screen with accompanying sound effects have replaced carefree outdoor play. It’s hard to believe that the average American child today spends only four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, according to the National Wildlife Federation and their “Be Out There” initiative. While it may appear to be cool to spend hundreds of dollars on and obsess over the latest gadgets, the real expense is our nation’s declining health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The fact is, the lack of outdoor physical activity decreases physical fitness levels, increases the frequency of ADHD, and increases stress levels in children. The National Wildlife Federation notes some surprising benefits to outdoor play which include:
· Healthier bodies with increased levels of Vitamin D, which helps to fight off serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
· Improved distance vision and reduced chance of nearsightedness.
· Improved performance on standardized tests and critical thinking skills.
· Stress levels have been shown to drop within minutes of “green time,” and free play with others helps with emotional development and lessens the chances of children developing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty simple solution to such a growing problem. Encouraging kids to go out and play in the fresh air creates fun childhood memories while helping to build the body, spirit and mind.
Baltimore County Tourism & Promotion
Whether you prefer classical in the park, folk along your local main street, some smooth jazz at a winery or vineyard, or rockin’ riffs at a raucous festival; there is something for everyone in Baltimore County with more than 150 concerts taking place this summer. Best of all, many of them are free and kid-friendly, so there is no need shell out for the babysitter.
With so much going on there is no excuse to spend a weekend evening at home watching Netflix (the new episodes of Orange is the New Black will still be there when you get home). Those winter doldrums will be back around before you know it, and you’ll be glad you spent your summer afternoons and evenings with some great music!
Here is a complete list of outdoor music and dance concerts throughout the summer.
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
This summertime guarantee brought to you exclusively by the Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks:
There will be no snow storms, snow flurries or snow squalls at all this summer on any Recreation and Parks sites and parks this summer. Guaranteed!
Wait, there’s more…
We will also guarantee fun and lots of great programs for families, kids and kids of all ages. We are calling this our “Hot times” summer package guarantee!
Here is a sampling of some of the hot times coming your way. Just the names of the programs should be enough to get your attention and participation…
Robert E. Lee Park –Growing up WILD, Beaver Night Hike, The Great American Campout, Natural Play, Bike Rodeo, Mud Day
Cromwell Valley Park – Animal Mothers; Art, Music, Poetry, Food, Wine and Classic Cars; Tin Can Gardening; “Reptiles by Day, Amphibians by Night;” the annual TALMAR Mother’s Day Plant Sale; Fairy Furniture; and you’re gonna love this one: “Eat Your Weedies” – sounds perfectly delicious!
Oregon Ridge Park – 4th of July BSO Star Spangled Spectacular/Fireworks
Throughout our County are “Summer Playgrounds” and camps, enthusiastically and well supervised with excitement, entertainment, socializing, and even some learning slipped in with all the fun. Here are just some of the camps:
Dragon Tao Karate Camp, Premier Basketball Camp; Boys Lax Camp; Step Up to Lax Camp; Camp Gymtastic; Al Bumbry Baseball Camp; Running Camp; Field Hockey Camp; Soccer Camp; Volleyball Camp; Camp New Horizons; Music, Nature, Drama, Art, Camp Chickadee, Around the Pond Summer Camp, Polar Pals, Grizzly Gang, Imagination Station, Muscular Mustangs, Creativity Camp, Gators Summer Camp, Blast Soccer Camp, camps for children and young adults with special needs. There’s really too much to list here, so, go to the Baltimore County Recreation and Parks homepage for a full listing of summer camps and playgrounds.
Keep in mind, that pretty much every one of our 40+ recreation centers offer programming throughout the summer with the above mentioned camps, activities and community events. Follow this link to our Recreation Councils and recreation offices to learn more about what is going on in your neighborhood.
Of course, there are over 200 small, medium, large and extra large- and all beautiful – parks, sites, waterfronts and fields. Imagine, so many great places to relax, picnic, exercise and simply to enjoy; many nearby your home.
For those that might be looking for something to do this summer, not as a participant, but more in line with earning those community service hours, or to have a summer job, there are some options for you, too. There are still some paying positions at Oregon Ridge Park (410-887-1818) and Rocky Point Park (410-887-2818) on the waterfront. There might still be some summer positions out there at our camps and recreation centers. Use this link to our Recreation Offices and ask if there is something to suit your skills and the needs of that office.
There you have it; a special summer guaranteed to be all you need it to be; well supervised, exciting, interesting and fun. And don’t forget, guaranteed to be snow free – though it may include a “sno-ball” from time to time!