Summer programs help keep Flint-area kids learning, safe and having fun

Children play on a bright red swingset.
Summer is underway and plenty of free and low-cost activities to keep children safe, busy and entertained are available across Flint and Genesee County. Photo: Rick Smith

For many families, the arrival of summer presents a real challenge — keeping children and teens safe and engaged in fun, productive activities that won’t break the household budget.

Such opportunities are particularly important in helping school-age youngsters avoid the “summer slide,” the loss of about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematics and reading skills that can occur before students return to school in the fall.

For more than 80 years, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has supported organizations and agencies offering free and low-cost summer programs for children and their families in Flint and Genesee County. And this year is no exception.

While many of these programs focus on learning and enrichment, most provide plenty of opportunities to have fun and increase physical fitness, too.

Among this summer’s options:

  • Offering year-round programming for children ages 7-17, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Flint keeps things rolling during the summer months with enrichment activities that increase kids’ academic skills and encourage their creativity and physical fitness.
  • Known for its afterschool programming, YouthQuest also offers an array of summertime activities for elementary, middle and high school students. Operated through the Genesee Area Focus Fund, YouthQuest helps kids stay academically sharp, physically active and, through volunteer opportunities, engaged in the community — all while having plenty of fun along the way.
  • Zumba, yoga, hiking and gardening — the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission offers these and many more summer activities and recreational opportunities, all within Michigan’s largest county parks system. The Commission’s Family Fun Guide offers all the details.
  • The Crim Fitness Foundation makes exercise and healthy living fun with summer running clubs for children ages 3-17. The clubs meet once or twice each week through the summer and culminate in the annual Crim Kids Invitational Race. Scheduled for Aug. 17 at Flushing County Park, the Kids Invitational is open to all area youngsters, including those who don’t register for the clubs.
  • Kids will trip the light fantastic during Tapology’s Summer Tap Intensive program. This one-week tap dance training course will be held Aug. 6-10 at the Flint Institute of Music. Participants also can audition for the Tapology Youth Ensemble performance to be held this fall.

Rounding out our list is the Flint Cultural Center. From day camps that engage youngsters in science and the arts, to summer reading programs, to shows and events for kids of all ages, there’s a lot happening at the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Flint Public Library, Flint School of Performing Arts, Flint Youth Theatre, Longway Planetarium, Sloan Museum and The Whiting. When planning your visit to the beautiful cultural center campus, be sure to check out the activities offered at Applewood, the family estate of Charles Stewart and Ruth Mott. The estate and its programs are supported by the Ruth Mott Foundation.