Come out and play

Come out and play

Youth have dozens of summertime options for staying fit and having fun

By Jennifer Alfred 05/07/2009

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With limited amounts of allowance money and few opportunities for rides, many kids find themselves at home a lot over the hot summer months, usually in front of the TV or computer surfing channels or MySpace.

There are, however, many fun and affordable ways for kids to stay fit and tan this summer.

One healthy way to burn off excess angst and energy is to learn to play tennis. Kids can hit the courts with tennis champion Veronica Badon, once the No. 1 player in the Southern California Women’s Open Division and a member of one of the top mixed-doubles teams in the nation, at her Badon Tennis Academy at Loma Alta Park in Altadena.

Don’t worry if you’re not up to Andy Roddick or Anna Kournikova status yet — there are several different cohorts, starting from beginner and ranging up to tournament level.

Starting this summer, coaches will travel with tournament-level players on weekdays, an added convenience for parents. “Instead of having to play their tournaments on the weekend, they can do it on weekdays,” explains Badon. “It’s very efficient because then families can have weekends together.”

Future David Beckhams and Mia Hamms should check out the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Summer Camp, great for learning some new moves and improving your game. With professional coaches and many different camp locations, it’s a great opportunity to sharpen existing skills for the regular season or jump right into playing.

For all the young Dodgers fans out there, the LA Kids program is the perfect opportunity to practice hitting home runs or throwing a sizzling fastball. Tournaments are held all over the city for baseball and other sports such as swimming, flag football, golf and volleyball. With more than 60 recreation centers throughout the city, long drives won’t be a problem, and there’s no need to worry about cost — it’s free!

Anyone interested in the art of dance will find that the Classical Ballet Academy is the perfect place to learn the basics or improve on skills this summer. Classes are set up by age group and various dance styles, and students will learn everything from ballet techniques and injury prevention to music and make-up. Those looking for a less classical dance style can hit up the Academy of Music and Dance, which features jazz, funk, hip-hop and even Mommy and Me yoga classes.

If hanging out by the pool is getting old for kids who still want to stay cool, flying across the ice at the Pasadena Ice Skating Center is an easy and cost-effective way to get an instant adrenaline rush. For those doing more falling than skating, group and private lessons are available to teach everything from being able to stop on skates to landing a triple axel. Those who have the basics down and thirst for full-body contact can try out for the Pasadena Maple Leafs, which offers hockey teams tailored to specific ages and skill levels.

Those whose athletic tastes are a bit more “alternative” (as well as those resolved to stay sweat- and strain-free) can also find inspiration in the context of a fun family event. It’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to please the whole family, but the Pasadena Police Officers’ Association’s annual Benefit Show and Vendor Fair comes really close. Held June 27 at Pasadena City College, the event will featuring a BMX stunt show, and who can resist people flying around on bikes doing death-defying stunts?

The goal of the event, says association spokeswoman Sharon McCray, is “to bring children and parents out to spend time together learning more about law enforcement and safety issues while having fun at the same time.” In addition to the stunt show, kids can learn about crime solving and the younger ones can meet McGruff the Crime Dog.

All of these programs and events are interesting ways to spend the long summer months and are a great way to meet new, cool people — as opposed to just chatting online all day. So get out there this summer and make it a hot one!

Jennifer Alfred was recently named next year’s editor of Eagle Rock High School’s newspaper, The Eagle’s Scream. 


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