Sunday, April 30, 2017

2017 Summer Camps for Kids

Buying a bathing suit when it's pool time is a bit like finding a summer camp once summer is already here.  They are hard to find.  Most summer camp registrations began in February, but there are still openings if you act quickly.  Milwaukee has many summer camp choices, but I will only focus on the camps that are in the outdoors.
Summer camp in Milwaukee could include pond exploration

Milwaukee zoo opens their camps to members in advance of the general public so many slots are already filled.  You can check listings by age or topic, then find the camp to see if it is full.  If there are slots, you'll know right away and can register online. They have both day and overnight camps.  There are even family events.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a great space to explore.  Kids get lots of outdoor experiences, and you can either download their brochure or click on the listing at the site to get an idea of what is still available.  There are opportunities to work with raptors, examine pond life, and do some hiking with a camera, in addition to just all around wonderful outdoor time.
Schlitz Audubon has a tower to climb

The Urban Ecology Center has three branches so take notice as to which center is hosting the camp. Browse by date or age/grade level.  Members receive a discount. A health form is required for participation. If you're a member here, you can always take out equipment from the lending closet for free.  Maybe you want to fish or kayak while your kids are in summer camp?  Or you can plan a weekend excursion to build on the skills your child has learned at camp.  Don't forget about the rock climbing wall at the Riverside Park center.  That's fun for all ages!

Camp Wil-O-Way, run by Easter Seals, is for ages 7-60 and focuses on people who might not otherwise have access to programs due to disability. There are two locations: Grant Park and Underwood Park. Campers will do arts & crafts, play sports, and take field trips.

Adventure Summer Camp is a program at Wehr Nature Center. Working with a naturalist, kids explore Wehr Nature Center grounds. Hikes, snacks, and crafts play a role in the daily activities. In August, they are hosting a family overnight adventure.

Riverwest Outdoor offers adventure camp and other outdoor adventures in 5 day increments. Activities include biking, hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing.

Milwaukee Recreation is an enrichment program for kids 3-12, so your kids can focus on art, math, sports, and take field trips. Programs have a weekly theme and are held at three Milwaukee public schools.

Lynden Sculpture Gardens focuses on art and nature.  Members receive discounts.

Check out your local park & recreation guides for cities within your county for more choices. For even more choices, both indoor and out, go to Miltown Moms Summer Camp Guide

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Making Photo Memories of Milwaukee Parks

Milwaukee parks are coming alive as they do every year in springtime.  Green grass carpets dotted with dandelions. Orange, red, and yellow tulip beds sweep around the paths at Boerner Botanical Gardens. Trees flush with pink and white blossoms fill the parkways. The sun rises earlier at Bradford Beach and warms the sand while shorebirds return. Forests are covered in wildflowers.  What a glorious and welcome sight.  It’s a great time to get out the camera or snap some photos for your Instagram account. 

Once you’ve done that, get them out of your camera for others to see.  I use Shutterfly to turn these photos into mugs, photo books, postcards and canvas prints. I used to wait until there was a sale, but recently I’ve discovered Groupon Coupons.  You might be familiar with Groupons as a way to get discounted experiences, but these coupons kick it up a notch. Click on the link for Groupon’s Shutterfly, and you’ll find up to date coupons you can use to make a project. Some are sales and others are coupon codes, so check the entire list.   You can subscribe for more offers, and share the codes to your favorite social media if you've been out with a friend and want to make projects together.

Anyone can be an author and make a personalized photo book. Make your child the star of their very own Milwaukee Parks story. I’ve done this with some of our adventures and they have become favorites for my son and grandchildren.
Photobooks make great memories

Mother’s and Father’s Days are fast approaching.  Create a mug using photos you’ve taken of their favorite places, or use family photos so they can be reminded of their loved ones. My son has a drink cup with some of his photos that he uses at school. We never find it mixed up with others or lost. It's an original.
A couple of our photo cups
If you prefer landscape photography, go to one of the lakefront parks at sunrise or visit Boerner Botanical Gardens.  Look for some of our historic bridges at Lake Park. Photograph our iconic buildings, like the Milwaukee Art Museum.  All of these make excellent notecards or prints. 

My refrigerator door is always filled with snapshots of people and places we love. Take advantage of their offer for unlimited prints with the download of the Shutterfly app, and you can update photos every season. 

What are you photographing and how will you share your Milwaukee photos?  I’d love to hear.  If you need some inspiration, check out this post about the best outdoor spots in Milwaukee for photos. 

This post contains sponsored links from Groupon.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Community Gardens and Rental Plots in Milwaukee 2017

Do you have a green thumb but no place to grow food?  It's becoming easier each year.  There are so many options for having beds installed in your own space, sharing in a community garden, or renting a plot for the season.  If you think you'd like to do this, here's a few places to go for more information.

Milwaukee Urban Gardens now has more than 70 plots around the city, all of which are shown at their website on an interactive map.  Find your house on the map and you'll see what's close to you. It's a network of community gardens. You can use their land, as long as you have no intention of selling your produce.  They also have classes and announce grants and opportunities to "grow" your garden skills, if you follow them on Facebook. They will be rolling out a new website this summer, so if the link doesn't work, go to the facebook page.

Alice's Garden is a large community garden where you can rent plots and join in for pot lucks, labyrinth walks, and social gatherings. Follow the Facebook page to find out more about events and get gardening tips.
Labyrinth at Alice's Garden
University Extension rents garden plots.  There are plots available throughout the county. Gardens  won't open up until the third week of May, though you can request one from April 15. Complete a request form to see if you are able to use their spaces.  Fees vary depending on the garden size.

Whitefish Bay has a shared garden plot at the high school.  You help in the garden, pay a fee and share in the harvest bounty.  For a membership form, see the Whitefish Bay Community Garden Facebook page. 

The Urban Ecology Centers offer garden plots and classes at Riverside Park and Menomonee Valley branches.  Maybe you've seen some of the plots if you've biked along the Oak Leaf trail.

There are several gardens at Havenwoods State Forest.  Some are designed with kids in mind.  Others  are available for rent through the UW Extension office.  Go to the link for more information on what is available.

Do you have space for a raised bed in your yard?  Victory Garden initiative continues to build momentum in the Milwaukee area. Even front yards are being used.  With a motto like "Move grass. Grow Food" they can help you get started. I had one installed in my back yard a few years ago and have volunteered with the blitz teams.  It's a great way to meet people, if you're looking for a way to get more involved. They also rent beds.  For more information, visit this link.
Concordia Gardens

Interested in volunteering at Growing Power, our urban farm, which includes livestock, tilapia, and micro greens?  You might find you enjoy meeting others while getting your hands dirty.
Inside Growing Power's greenhouse

Maybe you want to know about composting and have access to some good compost for your own garden?  Check out Kompost Kids, Inc.

Have I missed a garden?  Please let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Earth Day 2017 in Milwaukee's Parks

Earth Day celebrations in Milwaukee begin this Saturday morning.  Find your favorite park or event and help us make Milwaukee beautiful!

There's always a continued effort locally to clean up the parks and rivers using volunteers at this time.  It's a fun day of getting outdoors and meeting new people.  Equipment is provided so though you can bring your own stuff- gloves, trash bags, and t-shirts will be provided. Wear some sturdy shoes, or even rubber boots if you're going to one of the river locations. It's great to include all family members.  You can take pledges for trash collected and donate to help make Milwaukee even more beautiful.

If you want to join the Milwaukee Riverkeeper groups, show up at one of the 50 designated parks shown on the Riverkeeper website from 9-12 on Saturday, April 22. You can preregister, but it isn't necessary. If you need directions or park maps, you can get them at the Milwaukee County Parks website. There will be an afterparty at Estabrook Park at noon, featuring music.

There will also be kids' fishing clinics at 11 of the park lagoons on Saturday. Check the link for participating parks and additional information.  These clinics are run by volunteers and are open to children 15 and under.

The Urban Ecology Centers will be hosting cleanups as well as other activities like hikes as part of their Earth Day of Service April 22 from 9-12. No sign-up needed.  Check the individual branches to see what's happening.

Clean up the Hank Aaron State Trail on Saturday too. Last year there were nearly 300 volunteers. Sign in at Miller Park south of the Klement's Sausage Haus or Stormwater Park, across from Palermo's Pizza.

There are ongoing clean up activities, which can be joined at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful's website.  They also track environmental programs locally, so take a look at their calendar for additional programs.  They will be hosting their kick-off at South Shore Park, 2900 South Shore Drive, this year. Saturday from 9-12.

Help Milwaukee Recreation with cleaning up Hawthorn Glen Nature Center, and you'll receive a free admission coupon to the Milwaukee County Zoo, and a Milwaukee Parks Waterslide/Pool. That is Saturday 9-12.

Weedouts also continue this weekend with an event at Doctors Park.  For a downloadable schedule of parks conducting weed outs, go to the Park people Website. 

Havenwoods State Forest will conduct a cleanup April 22 with Riverkeeper from 9-12. Participants may receive gift certificates from local businesses. 
Whitefish Bay will hold their annual Green Day in the Bay on May 6 from 9-12 at Cahill Park.  Recyclables, to include used electronics, will be collected at Dominican High School.

Greenfield holds their Clean up Day May 13. Meet from 9-10:30 at Konkel Park.