Looking for ways to occupy energetic kids during the winter holiday break? Local vacation minicamps offer a variety of indoor and outdoor adventures that will keep kids active, engaged and entertained on days when school is out. Here's a sampling of what the Hudson Valley has to offer.
Dec. 26-29: Rock-climbing camp in New Rochelle
Long days at home can make kids so bored they'll be climbing the walls; so let them climb rock walls instead during a four-day camp. There are more than 15,000 square feet of climbing terrain at The Rock Club, an indoor climbing gym in New Rochelle (130 Rhodes St., New Rochelle; 914-633-7625; climbrockclub.com). Youngsters ages 5 to 16 only need a pair of sneakers and comfortable clothing to climb; the club will provide the equipment and instruction kids need to reach new heights through games, high ropes and climbing in a controlled and fun setting.
The facility offers 80 climbing stations, ranging from an enclosed training area for beginners to the extreme 40-foot main wall for the skilled. And the vacation minicamp program will take the kids as far as they're ready to go, says Dave Raue, general manager and partner at The Rock Club. "Where they go depends on age, ability, how many kids," he said. "We don't have any specific restrictions."
When: 9 a.m.-12:15 p.m. or 12:45-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Dec. 26-29
Cost: $95 for one day, $165 for two days, $210 for three days, $280 for 4 days
Dec. 26-28: Wildlife camp in Cornwall
Got a kid who's wild about wildlife? Opossums, chipmunks, snakes, owls and turtles are just a small sampling of the resident creatures campers might meet and learn about at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum's school break minicamp (25 Boulevard, Cornwall-on-Hudson; 845-534-5506, ext. 204; www.hhnaturemuseum.org).
Children in grades K-3 will gather in the large exhibit room of the museum's Wildlife Education Center and sit in a circle for a presentation and an up-close encounter with a live animal (no touching). The two-hour program will include story time and indoor activities. The museum educator will lead the campers in creating a take-home craft, such as a hand puppet of the day's animal.
If weather permits, the educator may take the campers out for about a 20-minute hike along the museum's outdoor trails, so kids should dress for the weather and wear shoes with a good grip. The camps are limited to 16 children per day, and prepaid registration is required.
When: 9:30-11:30 a.m. Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28
Cost: $22 per day, $17 per day for members
Dec. 27-29: Beginner ski or snowboard camp in Tuxedo
At Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center's three-day Learn 2 Ski or Snowboard Holiday Camp, experienced ski instructors will give novices ages 6 and up the building blocks they'll need for safety and success in the snow (581 Route 17A West, Tuxedo; 845-351-1122; www.tuxedoridge.com).
They start at square one: Learning to put on their skis. "Here at Tuxedo Ridge we specialize in families and first-time skiers and boarders," said Jim Mezzetti, CEO of Tuxedo Ridge Ski Center.
Snowmaking has already begun at the 100-acre ski center to ensure the best possible conditions for learning. After they learn to put on their skis, kids will be taught to properly execute other essential skills such as falling down, riding the lift unassisted, making controlled turns and stopping on the 650-foot-long bunny hill. Groups will have from three to seven students. Advance registration is required.
When: 9:30 a.m.-2:25 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 27-29
Cost: The three-day children's programs are $215 for lift, lessons and ski rental; $225 for lift, lessons and snowboard rental; $155 for lift and lessons only; $125 for ski rental and lessons only; $135 for snowboard rental and lessons only
Dec. 24, 26-28, 31: Play camp in Scarsdale
If gym is their favorite class, this is the camp for your kids. Great Play of Scarsdale, a 3,500-square-foot indoor gymnasium, features unique patented interactive technologies, says owner Zineb Truta (969B Central Park Ave., Scarsdale; 914-713-3470; www.greatplay.com/locations/scarsdale/index.html). "We have cameras and projectors on the ceiling that paint different murals on the walls for each activity," she said, noting that these allow them to play interactive wall games.
Each camp is led by three coaches, most with physical education or early childhood education degrees. Morning camp, for ages 3 to 6, includes tumbling, obstacle courses, climbing and free play. During afternoon sessions, specialized games and skill-building activities will give kids in grades K-6 a leg up in sports such as soccer, baseball, basketball, football, floor hockey and volleyball.
When: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for ages 3-6, 1-3:30 p.m. for grades K-6 Monday, Dec. 24, Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28. Morning session only on Monday, Dec. 31
Cost: $49 per session, $39 per session for three to five sessions, $33 per session for six or more; multisession discounts can be used for siblings and friends
Dec. 24, Dec. 26-28: Ice skating camp in Elmsford
Young figure skaters and hockey players are invited to lace up their skates and sharpen their skills under the guidance of certified instructors and coaches at Westchester Skating Academy, an indoor skating facility with two NHL-sized ice rinks (91 Fairview Park Dr., Elmsford; 914-347-8232; www.skatewsa.com).
Ice hockey players can attend skill camp, which offers three 90-minute sessions per day for various skill levels, or goalie clinic, which offers two 90-minute sessions, one for all ability levels and o`ne for advanced skills. The figure skating clinic will include 45 minutes of off-ice training, including Zumba and gymnastics, in addition to 120 minutes of on-ice instruction. Skaters should dress warmly in layers, and it's recommended that beginners wear a bike helmet.
When: Monday, Dec. 24 and Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28. Times vary by program; check the website for the complete schedule
Cost: $200 for four-day program or $65 per day for hockey; $260 for four-day program or $75 per day for figure skating; includes skate rental