Summer Camp at Starr Gymnastics!

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When you send your kids to camp, you want to know that they are safe, with good friends (or ready to make some new ones), and having fun all week long. You want the price to be reasonable and you want to feel that your children will come out of a five day journey with stories to tell and a desire to go back again. When they want more, you know you've made the right choice. Well, if you send them to Starr Gymnastics Summer Camp, you might be shocked when they tell you that this is the ONLY camp they ever want to do!

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Your child's week starts with gymnastics. After all, that's what Starr does best! Every child will learn something! It might be that they learn to flip for the first time, or they finally get that cartwheel that they've been practicing at recess for the last month. Every athlete is made to feel special and will learn new skills. Even kids that take regular lessons will find they are doing tons of "outside the box" moves and twists. The purpose of the camp is to explore the less conventional side of gymnastics and really get excited about the creativity of the sport.

Follow Monday with some group games, trips to the park, crafts, weekly themes ranging from Disney Day to Space Day (yes, that's where they do gymnastics with glow sticks and black lights!) and you're left with the highlight of the week - Friday's BIG SHOW TIME. If your child is falling asleep in the car on the way home every day isn't enough satisfaction, you are invited on Friday afternoon to see a live performance of all they've learned, packaged neatly with music and cheers - in true big top style! The Coaches even put on a show, reminding the parents that your children are surrounded by true role models who love what they do!

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And that's another point that sticks with families that register for Camps at Starr. The staff are the most dynamic, caring and friendly people you will ever meet. They seem to genuinely have a passion for excellence, and they help every child achieve their best by inspiring them, not ordering them around. They are always approachable and happy to accommodate your needs whenever possible. Their flexibility (no pun intended) is matched only by their safety-conscious approach to the finer details of camp. You think you are dropping your kids off to learn gymnastics, but once you see how seriously Starr manages allergies, outings, lunch-checks, and attendance, you realize that you are getting so much more.

So it might not just be your kids that want Starr, and ONLY Starr! 

For more information - please visit or call their central office at 613-721-4868

Editorial note: this post was sponsored by Starr Gymnastics.

GCGC Gymnastics

For a while I only knew them as GCGC Gymnastics. I recently discovered that GCGC stands for Gloucester Community Gymnastic Challengers. Tucked away in an industrial park in Gloucester, this unassuming Gymnastics centre wow'd us with their programming. YL7_5715-small[1]

I took both my girls out to a Saturday morning Kindergym, and they were in awe of the 12,500 square foot facility. The children started off with a warm-up on the floor with fun music (who doesn't love running around in a circle like a mad person?) The kids were then separated into groups based on age and skill level. An instructor led each group over to various parts of the gym, and the girls got to practice on the balance beams, trampoline and bars.


My youngest (18 months), was just a teensy bit too young, although she certainly had a good time. By the time the class was over, I was in a full sweat from chasing her around everywhere. My 4.5 year-old got a lot out of the class, and I was so proud to see her confidence in trying new skills.

There are a lot of gymnastics options out there for parents, and it's hard knowing which one to choose. I like GCGC because there are both recreational and competitive options. Founded in 1976, the centre is in good standing with Gymnastics Ontario and bilingual coaches are certified with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). The ratios are very small, and my girls were in a group of only 4 children in total. It's great knowing that my oldest could start off in recreational programs and perhaps move into competitive programs as she builds her skills.


Summer camps are also open now for registration, so if you're like me and have procrastinated getting your kids signed up, there's still space! Take a look at their website for more program information. Also, head over to their Facebook page and give them a "like!" Supporting local businesses like GCGC is such a pleasure!

Pedalheads Bike Camps in Ottawa

I have a 4 year-old who is learning to ride a bike. Riding a bike is a skill (like swimming) that happens at all different ages. Right now she's on training wheels, but she has little friends who are already barreling around the roads sans training wheels. So I was more than a little excited when I was contacted by Pedalheads - a Canadian organization providing bike camp experiences to children - to come check out a mini-camp last Thursday. Traffic and densely populated urban areas make it difficult for parents to teach their kids to ride their bikes. Kids need the confidence to ride safely on the road, in parks and around the neighbourhood. The Pedalheads bike camps provide children with the right environment, trained instructors and small groups to prepare children for the road - some as young as three can learn to ride without training wheels upon completion of camp.


We showed up at the Alta Vista location (there will also be camps held in Nepean and Kanata), and my daughter's face lit up when she saw the obstacle course. She quickly hopped on her bike, and the instructors took her around the pylons and up over the balance boards. She asked to go again and again!


I also got a chance to speak with one of the instructors about the camps. The kids will spend the majority of the day on their bikes, but like most camps, there will be plans for extreme weather. They have use of a large church and indoor play equipment. The church is on quite a large property, with ample space for riding down grassy slopes. A slip 'n slide will come out on hot days for the kids to cool off.


I was really impressed with all of the friendly instructors, and they seemed really enthusiastic about their jobs. When I asked my daughter whether she'd enjoy a full week camp, she answered a loud "YES!"


Children can register in morning, afternoon, short 45-minute sessions or even private lessons. The earliest program starts with Riding Rookies, a child and caregiver program, then Trikes and Trainers, a program aimed at three year olds - to teach them to steer, stop and pedal. Once the child is four years old they can start the 10 level program starting with Newbees, who still ride with training wheels, and finishing with Crankheads, who can do both a front and rear lift with their mountain bikes. Pedalheads has something for every child to enjoy this summer.

To find out more, or sign your child up for camp, check out their website and Facebook page.

Happy Peddling!



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The Academy for Musical Theatre

OK, so confession: I was a real band geek as a kid. Actually, I should say "orchestra" geek, because I played the viola, and we were part of the orchestra (all string instruments). My enthusiasm for music extended to the piano, and led to several trips to Scarborough Music Camp. My family loved indulging my musical tastes, and took me to all sorts of musical theatre, concerts and ballets. So I was more than a little excited when The Academy for Musical Theatre (formerly Perth Academy of Musical Theatre) came on board as our May featured sponsor. The Academy offers high quality instruction in music, acting, dance and various aspects of technical theatre for youth ages 5 to 19, culminating in the performance of a full-scale Broadway musical.

My oldest daughter is a tiny bit too young for their summer programs, but you can bet I'll be signing her up next year! Youth of all ages have a new opportunity in Ottawa this summer to participate in high quality and immensely rewarding and fun musical theatre workshops, and to perform in full productions of Annie, Pirates of Penzance, Fiddler on the Roof, or Rent.

Can I just plug music and theatre for a moment? I know parents often think of the arts as less important than, say, athletic or math skills, but research has proven that musical children actually perform better in school. Yup, that's right! Learn a musical instrument (including your voice!), and you'll get higher grades!

As well, learning to perform in front of a non-judgmental audience can be a HUGE boost for kids' self-esteem - they gain confidence, loads of new friends, and discover new abilities.

Here's a bit more about the Academy for Musical Theatre and some of the summer program highlights. Don't miss out - sign up soon! In the meantime, check them out on Facebook and learn more by visiting their website.

The Academy is the winner of the Perth Chamber of Commerce 2004 Business Achievement Award, is headed by Heidi Stepanek (B.Mus., M.A.), who has also nominated for the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards, and boasts a staff of several highly trained theatre professionals who are also all long-time alumni of The Academy. Heidi is a professional and experienced musician, stage director, drama educator, who has built a career out of her love of working with children, and passion for musical theatre. She is also a registered music teacher with ORMTA.

The Academy‘s 2014 summer workshops include four exciting choices: Annie (ages 5-9), Pirates of Penzance (7-18), Fiddler on the Roof (8-14), and Rent (13-19).

Each workshop includes training in triple threat skills provided by professionals in their art (dance, voice, acting), training in various technical aspects of musical theatre (sound/microphone use, lighting, props, costuming, make-up), a script, costumes (provided by their own costumer), and a chance to perform in a professionally staged production with high quality sound and light engineering. Each workshop participant is cast in a specific role, and has the opportunity to be featured, for has Heidi says, “everyone deserves a little time in the spotlight!”

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Flashback: Summer Camps with the City of Ottawa

Summer is quickly approaching!  Here is a post by Carly about summer camps through the city. by Carly

I'm a big believer in recreation and the Little Man has enjoyed and benefited from the fantastic and highly-trained staff who look after the City of Ottawa's summer Day Camps.  Every time we drive by the community centre where he first went to a half day camp two years ago, he begs again to go back to "Animal Adventures"!  Whether you're in need of childcare this summer or just want to give the kids (or yourself?) a break for a week here and there, the options abound.  I took a few minutes to go through the City's Summer Activity Guide and picked out a few camps that caught my eye, for kids from 2 years of age and up. 


Fun in the Sun A fun filled, action packed summer with arts and crafts, games, sports, special events, outdoor activities and local trips.  This camp for 4-6 year olds has full or half day options for maximum flexibility and takes place in Orleans, at the brand new AQUAVIEW COMMUNITY BUILDING, 318 Aquaview Drive.  Call 613-580-2782 for more info.

Kinder Korner Community Camps If you live or work in the Nepean area, you’ll find these preschool camps right in your own backyard!  Amazing staff offer camps that are just the right size for your little ones.  Children 2-5 are welcome, camp runs from 9-11:30am from Monday to Thursday at a number of COMMUNITY BUILDINGS throughout Nepean.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41238 for more info.

Aqua Preschool Do you have a little swimmer on your hands?  Brewar Pool (613-247-4938), Deborah Anne Kirwan Pool (613-247-4820, Plant Recreation Complex (613- 232-3000) and St. Laurent Complex (613-742-6767) all offer half or full day aquatic camps for kids 3-5 years of age.  Games, crafts, and lots of fun are all on the agenda.


Big Art and Clowning & Cartooning Have a budding artist looking for a creative outlet this summer.  These two camps, taking place at the ROCKCLIFFE PARK RECREATION COMPLEX are just the thing.  Drama, games, animation techniques and the art of clowning are all on the menu.  Call 613-842-8578 for more info.

Drama, Drawing, Photography and Much More The NEPEAN CREATIVE ARTS CENTRE, 35 Stafford Road, offers a multitude of camps on everything from dance to printmaking, music to movie making.  Call 613-596-5783 for more info.

Interior Design, Project Runway & Top Chef Those are just some of the themes offered at AVALON PUBLIC SCHOOL, 2080 Portobello Drive and in French at ÉCOLE ÉLÉMENTAIRE JEANNE SAUVÉ, 1917 Gardenway this summer.  Older kids will love expressing themselves through fashion, design and cooking.  Call 613-580-2782 for info.

Computer Camps Computer camps are offered in partnership with FutureKids of Ottawa right across the City.  Kids will love creating their own animated cartoon, elaborate video games, learning how to make digital movies or exploring the world of robotics.  Check out pages 24-26 of the City of Ottawa Activity Guide (link below) for a location near you, or visit

Into the Woods Looking to get your kids out of the house and into the great outdoors this summer?  Get back to nature with this eco-friendly camp and get down and dirty planting gardens, following bugs, exploring forests and going on fun trips.  This camp for kids 4-12 years of age (with full or half day options) takes place at the GENERAL BURNS COMMUNITY BUILDING, 86 Argue Drive in Nepean.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41238 for more info.


Leadership The city offers a wide range of Leadership camps for youth 12 years and up, from Orleans to Kanata and many places in between.  Learn communication skills, program planning, team building, child development and camping skills.  Have a teen on your hands who loves working with children in recreation?  These programs are a must prior to working for the City and many offer hands-on learning experiences in camp settings.  Check out pages 38 and 86 of the City of Ottawa’s Recreation Guide for more details.

Equestrian Camps Does your pre-teen or teen dream of spending the summer on horseback?  Both the ST. LAURENT COMPLEX, 525 Coté and the NEPEAN NATIONAL EQUESTRIAN PARK, 401 Corkstown Road offer a wide variety of camps for the horse lover in your family.  For more info on the camps at St. Laurent Complex, call 613-742-6767.  For more details on those offered at the Equestrian Park, call 613-829-6925

Skateboarding, Soccer, Swimming, Hockey, Rope Skipping, Beach Volleyball, Cheerleading & More! Pages 40-47 of the City of Ottawa Recreation Guide are chock full of outstanding sports camps for children and youth.  Pre-teens and teens have their choice of sport and camps are offered throughout the City.

Summer Youth Centres Perhaps your teen just want to get out of the house and hang out with their friends this summer.  Join us for sports, movies, games, special events, camping, outings and more!  TANGLEWOOD COMMUNITY BUILDING, 30 Woodfield Drive and LARKIN HOUSE COMMUNITY BUILDING, 76 Larkin Drive are open Monday to Friday from 3pm to 10pm.  BELLS CORNERS P.S., 3770 Richmond Road and LESLIE PARK P.S., 20 Harrison Drive are open Monday to Friday from 2pm to 9pm.  Call 613-580-2424 ext. 41232 for more info.

More information on any of the camps listed above, as well as many more fantastic options can be found by visiting Financial assistance is available to qualified applicants for all recreation programs, including day camps.

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 4 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.