Katie Ellington/News Caius Shoemaker jumps off the slide at the Hiawatha Park. Caius and his two sisters are enrolled in the summer parks program, where children play games and enjoy free time on the playground and at Hiawatha Water Park.


Summer 101 Parents Survival Guide


MOUNT VERNON — School may be out, but learning doesn’t have to take a vacation. There are plenty of ways to engage childrens’ brains this summer.

There are still open slots for summer camp at Mount Vernon’s SPI Spot museum. The museum is offering a variety of indoor and outdoor programs. The weeklong, half day camps range from playing and exploring outdoors to completing projects that teach chemistry, physics and other science concepts.

“We know that the summer is long, kids have lots of interests and they like a variety of options,” said Stephanie Calondis Geiger, executive director of SPI Spot. “What we’re advocating for is a combination of free unstructured play and an opportunity to pursue their interests…to allow their own natural curiosity to lead the way.”

Camps are available for students entering kindergarten through the ninth grade. The cost ranges from between $60 and $70; scholarships are available based on financial need. For more information, call the museum or visit spi.jumbula.com.

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is also offering half day, weeklong camps throughout June and July. Summer Quest camps are available for preschool, early elementary, upper elementary and middle school students. Art, science, gaming and STEM-themed options are available. All camps cost $40.

One way to keep kids reading throughout the summer is to sign up for the summer library program, available at all public libraries in Knox County. This free program incentivizes reading with prizes, including a free paperback book for all children who meet their reading goal. Each library has special events scheduled, many of which correspond with this year’s theme, “A Universe of Stories.” The main branch of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County will be holding space-themed arts, science and gaming clubs in June. Teens can unleash their creativity at the Mount Vernon library’s MakerSpace or stop by for “make and take Tuesdays” to craft their own slime, soap or rockets. Information on these and more events are available online or in person at your local library.

Other free options include the concerts held at Ariel-Foundation Park and the Knox County Career Center. The family-friendly Summer Music Garden series features concerts by the Mount Vernon Community Band on June 23 and children’s musicians Kari Kovick on July 21 and Kare Strong on August 11. These concerts take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Knox County Career Center’s children’s garden. The Ariel-Foundation Park concert series, which starts this month and will continue through October, will offer performances by the Mount Vernon High School Marching Band, the Ohio State University Alumni Band, Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra and more. The Knox County Symphony Children’s concert is slated for Sept. 29.


Katie Ellington: 740-397-5333 or katie@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @kt_ellington