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DL offers options for summertime fun for youth

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School's out, but the rec center, Latch Key and the Detroit Lakes Boys and Girls Club are just starting up with their busiest season. If you're in need of summer child care, try one of these three active options.

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Latch Key

SACC, or School Age Child Care (otherwise known as Latch Key) is a program of Detroit Lakes Community Education and Recreation. Its summer hours are 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. To be eligible for the program, your child must be enrolled in grades K-6 for next year in the Detroit Lakes School District.

Kids in Latch Key have access to the gym, playground and computers at the Lincoln Education Center, and go on regular outings to swimming lessons, the rec center and the library.

"It gives them a pretty well-rounded summer activity program, and it's limited as far as television," SACC coordinator Sandi Westrum said in an earlier interview.

Westrum, a 21-year veteran of the program, said she thinks kids like it because they can "pick and choose" from the various activities offered, in a relaxed environment. She is one of eight staff members.

Cost is always $2.25 for the first hour. After that, it is $2.25 per hour for the first child, and $2 hour for subsequent siblings. Hours will be broken into 15-minute increments if needed.

Breakfast and a late afternoon snack are provided. Children will need to bring a sack lunch.

SACC is a non-profit program, operating on parent fees and various independent grants. Financial assistance is available for families who qualify.

Enrollment is limited to 48 kids per day. Westrum estimated that between 35-40 kids currently attend. Drop-ins are welcome if they are registered and if space allows.

For more information on SACC, call the Lincoln Education Center at 847-4418.

Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club, another all-day summer care option, is open for ages 5-18 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. weekdays. It is located on Richwood Road, just off Highway 34.

At the club, kids participate in supervised activities throughout the day, such as scavenger hunts, computer time, a book club and cooking. A variety of field trips are scheduled for the summer, including a trip to a local dairy farm and Tamarac Lake. Transportation is provided for the field trips.

"Not too many clubs in the state of Minnesota do that," said Pat Petermann, executive director of the Detroit Lakes Boys and Girls Club.

It's a positive, friendly place that offers structure.

"We have a staff that is very caring and dedicated to the kids," Petermann said.

The cost of attending is $15 per day. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are included in the daily cost. An annual membership fee of $25 is also required.

Facilities the club offers include an expansive lawn with playground equipment, a gymnasium and a computer lab.

The Boys and Girls Club building recently got a makeover. It now has bright, kid-friendly walls with sayings like "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."

The non-profit club gets about three-quarters of its financial support from grants, local businesses and individual donations. The final quarter comes from fees.

For more information about the club, contact Pat at 847-5700.

Summer Rec

Check out the Detroit Lakes Summer Recreation program if you're looking for free athletics and fun right next to City Park.

The rec center is run in conjunction with beachside lifeguarding and summer swimming lessons by the City of Detroit Lakes.

"The Rec," as parents and kids typically call it, has supervised hours from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. between June 3 and Aug. 15 this summer.

Anyone can come, though an adult must accompany children under age 5.

"There's no sign-up, but that's by design," Rec Center director Mark Greenig said in an earlier interview. "It's a come-when-you-can, stay-as-long-as-you-can format, and that works great for kids and parents. We try to keep it as basic and simple as we can."

The five staff members at the Rec Center organize and supervise games ranging from four-square to baseball to dodgeball, and provide a craft project on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Kids can borrow a variety of athletic equipment and use the playground as well.

The rec program does require more parental support than either Latch Key or the Boys and Girls Club. It closes from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch each day, and parents are expected to pick up their kids at this time. Also, it closes for any dangerous weather.

Greenig estimates that about 50 kids come to the Rec Center at some point each day.

"It's been around for a long time, and we hope it stays," he said of the supervised center. "It's very rare that you get a program of this quality for free."

To contact Rec Center, call 846-7113.

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