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side of school. They’ve had so many great times at Bill’s, from playing on stage to jamming after the show. They’ve also made a lot of friends, and even formed bands with other musicians there. We’re proud of their achievements, and thankful that we discovered Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor when we did.” billsmusicshop.com, 796-6477.

Healthy Bodies Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor offers lessons and stage experience. Courtesy photo

in Lexington.” On Wednesday nights, there’s also free play at the Flight Deck restaurant in Lexington. “There are 80 different models in all, and most have motors,” says Walburn. “This allows us to create several different learning themes like Space Adventure, Animal Grossology and others. Some kids see the model and say ‘I can’t build that!’ — but the fun part is watching them realize that they can.” bricks4kidz.com/southcarolina, 422-3054.

Pick and Grin If music moves you, Columbia is truly a great place to be. Several award-winning schools of music, family friendly performance venues, and programs like the USC String Project (among others) mean there are plenty of places for kids to listen, discover and learn a musical instrument. An unassuming storefront on Meeting Street in West Columbia is no exception. The namesake of local bluegrass legend, the late Bill Wells, Bill’s Music Shop & Pickin’ Parlor offers lessons for acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and bass, and a weekly chance to put those lessons to good use. Just as it has for close to 30 years, the shop hosts an open stage show and jam session every Friday. It’s a great place for kids to practice and learn the ropes. “Our family has been going to Bill’s for close to six years,” says Dr. Nathan Speare of Columbia. “Our son, Austen and daughter, Anna, both started playing the violin in their school orchestra in the fifth grade. We saw going to Bill’s as a chance for them to learn to play different kinds of music out-

Tips for an Active, Healthy Summer According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children should be involved in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least an hour a day. Here are some ways to incorporate fun activity and nutrition into your child’s summer. Look for a summer program that promotes physical activity and healthy eating. Ask specific questions about the activities your child will be involved in and the food they will be eating.

Ride the River In the town where three rivers merge, it’s only natural that one way to stay fit and healthy is on the water. Whether you’re a novice or a pro, Adventure Carolina offers trips (ages 7 and up) and camps (ages 9-15) designed to make the most of the great outdoors. “These days parents need all the help they can get to drag kids away from all the electronics,” says co-owner Jane Scott. “We introduce them to paddling sports and nature that’s new, different, and right in their back yard.” Week-long camps run June 10-14 and July 15-19 with canoeing, kayaking, tubing, backpacking and more. Adventure Carolina also hosts three-mile guided trips on the Congaree River every weekend (perfect for families or out of town guests), and after work on Thursdays (plus Tuesdays and Fridays during the summer). Also available: birthday parties and custom trips for adults adventurecarolina.com, 796-4505.

Explore the Shoals Speaking of rivers, Saluda Shoals Park boasts 400 acres of outdoor recreation, education and exploration. You’ll find plenty of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, a river observation deck, fishing, guided canoe trips, the Saluda Shoals Wetland Preserve and Saluda Splash: an interactive, zero-depth water playground (open now through Sept. 3). If your crew includes members of the canine variety, there’s also the Barking Lot Dog Park. icrc.net/saludashoals, 731-5208.

Sky-High Safari at Riverbanks Zoo. Courtesy photo

Learn (and Conquer!) the Ropes It’s been a little over a year now since the Sky-High Safari opened at Riverbanks Zoo: have you conquered the ropes? For an additional fee, kids and adults can tackle this 3-story ropes challenge course with more than 30 obstacles that will test balance, strength, courage, and faith (it really gets your adrenaline pumping, is what we’re trying to tell you). Fittingly, Sky-High Safari is located across from the Giraffe Overlook and open daily from 10 a.m-4 p.m. Children must be 48 inches tall to participate without parent supervision. riverbanks.org, 779-8717.

Be active with your child. Take a walk together, create a scavenger hunt, or go to your local basketball court and shoot some hoops. It’s a great opportunity for you both to get some physical activity, and a chance to bond.

make a frozen treat. String cheese and fresh fruit smoothies are also great options.

Take advantage of local pools and recreation centers. Many communities have free or low-cost facilities. Call or check your local city or town website to learn what resources are available.

Give kids toys that encourage activity. Basketballs, soccer balls, jump ropes, and kites encourage physical activity. Outdoor games such as volleyball or badminton are a great way to get everyone moving.

Keep healthy snacks around the house. Freeze some grapes or place a popsicle stick in the middle of a yogurt cup and

Turn off the TV and the computer. Encourage your kids to turn off the gadgets and be active with friends or family instead.

Source: SummerLearning.org.

FT Parent Summer 2013  

Midlands' Magazine for Smart Familes: Free Times Parent is for you — a smart, engaged parent doing your best to navigate the ever-changing w...

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