Friday, February 28, 2014

Sit back, relax, and find the perfect Rec&Ed summer camp

Already wondering how to fill your child's summer with fun, enriching activities? So many choices, so many weeks to cover...we know it can be overwhelming.

Let Rec&Ed make the quest for the perfect summer camp easy

Our Virtual Summer Camp Fair provides 24/7 access to camp descriptions, video and other content about individual camps. Arts, music and drama; science and math; instructional sports; reading and writing; green adventures; Harry Potter and other themes; Lego -- you name it, we've got it! 

Want to search by week of the summer, your child's age, or theme of camp? Yes, yes, and yes. You can do all of that on the Virtual Summer Camp Fair.

Have a child with allergies or other special needs, and want to learn more about accommodations we make or talk to a staff person? No problem. See our Parent Page

Most importantly, registration couldn't be easier if you start at the Virtual Summer Camp Fair. 

Our print catalog still works for browsing Rec&Ed summer camps too!

AAPS students will bring home our annual Summer Camps catalog in backpack mail between now and March 7. You'll also see them at Ann Arbor District Library branches and many other community locations. 

We're also happy to send you a catalog if you need one. Call us at 994-2300, ext. 53224, and we'll mail one to your home.

The best part of it all...

Register by April 20 to save with our early bird discount.

Visit Rec&Ed's Virtual Summer Camp Fair to find out more. 

Spread the word via your own social media, below!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Student Conquers Shyness through Ann Arbor-Hikone Exchange Program

Guest blogger Elyse Bairley, Team Sports Supervisor and Hikone Exchange Program Assistant. Mrs. Bairley served as a project director for the 2012 AAPS delegation to Japan.

Elyse Bairley
When I first met Calvin* during the application process to become a middle school student ambassador to Hikone, Japan, I couldn't help notice his reserved and apprehensive demeanor. Calvin had difficulty looking me in the eye when I asked him questions prior to walking him into the interview room. While he sat in the waiting room before the interview, he had his head down and was sweating. His mother kept saying, "Calvin, relax. You'll be answering questions about yourself, and these are the easiest questions to answer."

Despite his nerves, Calvin showed a true desire to be in the program during the interview. His answers demonstrated a willingness to learn and try new things -- he even ate sushi on camera for us!

Turning fear into confidence

Little did I know how Calvin's confidence and poise would change through the Hikone Exchange program. My first clue came after the first few of the required summer language and culture classes. Calvin started arriving early and sitting in the front row, clearly eager to learn. Although initially hesitant to speak up, he began contributing to discussions more regularly. 

As the trip to Japan grew closer, Calvin also began showing leadership skills within the group. He helped me quiet down the other students at the beginning of each class. He motivated the other students to practice the musical performance they would present in Japan. 

Calvin carried his new-found leadership skills to Japan. I remember him specifically reminding other students not to forget their carry-on bags on the trains to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Miyajima. (Something we adults constantly reminded kids to do because of how crowded the trains could be.) Calvin also formed a quick bond with his host family and brother. They shared common interests such as sports, video games and comic books. He and his exchange brother especially loved Anime and Manga.

Ann Arbor - Hikone Exchange Program offers life-changing experience to middle school students

There's no doubt in my mind that the Hikone-Ann Arbor Exchange Program offers an exceptional opportunity for middle school students to develop and grow at a critical time in their lives. The Hikone Exchange Program City-Wide Selection Committee always selects a diverse group of students to form the delegation to Japan, including students like Calvin who may not fit the traditional mold of a student leader when they enter the program. 

I can't tell you how many families have emailed me to tell me that the program was the best thing for their child. Last month, I ran into a family from the 2010 delegation at a Michigan basketball game. The parents told me that because of the exchange program, their son has expressed interest in language and other cultures. Now a 10th grader, he's considering becoming an ambassador or diplomat. 

The Hikone Exchange program is unique within the Ann Arbor Public Schools. By becoming part of a small learning community representing their American school district in a foreign country, students in the Hikone program have the chance to develop confidence, their ability to plan and perform with their peers, and of course how to share their culture and learn about Japanese culture. 

This year, we'll prepare and send another delegation of students to Japan. Find out more about the program and how to apply here

Please note: there's a Parent Orientation Meeting on Monday, March 3, 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. at the WISD. See our Hikone webpage for more information.  

*Not his real name.

Help spread the word about Rec&Ed's Ann Arbor-Hikone Exchange Program! Share this blog post via your favorite social media outlet below. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Save $10 on youth spring sports -- register by Friday

Hey, let's forget about all the cold and snow and start thinking about spring! Despite this winter's arctic conditions, spring will come...and along with it, the chance for your child to enjoy soccer, field hockey or flag football.

Our early bird deadline approaches! Sign up by Feb. 14 at 5:00 p.m. to save. 

Click on the sports below for more information and to register:

Why choose Rec&Ed youth sports?

Rec&Ed Youth Sports are known as the kid-friendliest youth sports programs in Ann Arbor. Our teams offer kids the opportunity to learn sports and stay active in a relaxed atmosphere where the focus is on participation and fun. Since teams are primarily formed by school attendance area, it's a great way for children to play on teams with their schoolmates and friends.

In our Youth Sports program, Rec&Ed staff form youth teams, assign coaches and provide training and support to coaches. Often, coaches are parents of one of the players. Coaches will notify players of their team placement no later than March 24th

Even if parents miss the February 14th deadline for the $10 discount, their children can still be included in Rec&Ed's priority player placement as long as they are registered by Tuesday, February 18th. After that, non-priority registrations will be taken until teams are filled.

For more information about Rec&Ed Youth Team Sports spring programs visit the Youth Sports webpage at

Click here to subscribe to A2RecDirect by Email

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sign up for Mid-Winter Break camps now!

Attention, parents: T-minus 9 days until Mid-Winter Break -- February 17 - 21

Can't get out of town for break? Rec&Ed is here to help your child beat boredom! We're offering a variety of camps to help your child stay active and engaged.

Learn more and register for all of the following Rec&Ed Winter Break camps here:

Kids love Rec&Ed's Lego camps!
Lego Design Camp (K-5, Mornings @ the Cultural Arts Building)
Campers experience what it's like to be an engineer! Plan and map out LEGO building projects using computer-aided design software. From bridges to cars to the limits of the imagination, LEGO Digital Designer allow students to go from the drawing board to a real life LEGO brick masterpiece in no time.

Draw and Display Art Camp (K-8, Full day @ Slauson)
Campers will experiment with a wide array of art materials and create several individual and group projects. The seven elements of art will be taught and reflected in camper's amazing works. Campers will mat projects for an art exhibit and reception on Friday.

Hoops Basketball Camp (K-7, Mornings @ Slauson)
Do your kids love basketball? Coaches will focus on drills that improve skill sets of individual players in areas of dribbling, passing, shooting, defense, and teamwork.

Rec&Ed Instructional Sports camps
build skills while having fun
Soccer Camp (K-7, Afternoons @ Slauson)
Soccer players of all skill levels are welcome in this camp. Our coaches will help them improve their ball control, shooting and passing techniques, as well as their defensive skills. This camp is a "no pressure, fun for all" activity.

**Note: Basketball and Soccer can be combined to make a full day. Call 994-2300, ext. 53233.

Space is limited – register for  a Rec&Ed Winter Break camp today:

Please spread the word about Rec&Ed's Winter Break camps by sharing this post.

Click here to subscribe to A2RecDirect by Email  

Monday, February 3, 2014

PTO Thrift Shop helps First Steps serve Ann Arbor's youngest children

Guest blogger Marj Hyde, Coordinator, First Steps-Ann Arbor

I've had a tremendous appreciation for the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop ever since my children were students in Ann Arbor Public Schools. Over the years, I've volunteered at the shop and donated many gently used clothes and household items. I continue donating because I know that all of my little donations (and everyone else’s!) makes a difference for every child, parent and teacher in the AAPS.

It never occurred to me that the AAPS program I run and care so deeply about might also receive support from the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop! 

First Steps helps babies, toddlers and preschoolers -- and their parents

I’m the coordinator of First Steps-Ann Arbor, a division of Rec&Ed. Our program serves all families who live in the AAPS district with children from birth to kindergarten entry. First Steps provides the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop optimally during the crucial early years of life. 

Sitting on his parent's lap,
this baby enjoys a First Steps
mirror activity.

Through our classes and programs at three AAPS buildings, the youngest members of the AAPS community build social skills and explore topics such as music, art and science. At the same time, their parents learn best practice parenting strategies for nurturing their children's development and enjoy access to special parenting classes and activities.   

PTO Thrift Shop helps fill gap in First Steps funding

Last year, First Steps lost a major source of on-going funding due to cuts at the state level. Our newly formed First Steps PTO has worked hard to replace this funding through special events, grants and fundraising. The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop is a critical part of this effort. Ann Farnham, director of the PTO Thrift Shop, walked me through the process so that First Steps can receive regular financial support -- thank you Ann! 

Shopping at the PTO Thrift Shop is a wonderful way to support First Steps and all other AAPS schools! You can also donate directly to First Steps via our website -- it's really easy, especially if you already have an on-line account with Rec&Ed.

For more information about First Steps

Visit our website, email, or call (734) 994-2300, ext. 53186.

Please spread the word about First Steps-Ann Arbor by sharing this post.

Subscribe to A2RecDirect by Email