What's So Great About Camp?


Published:

Ah, camp - what images do you conjure when you remember summer camp when you were a child? Roasting s'mores over a campfire, rolling out your sleeping bag in a cozy cabin, splashing in a lake, making new friends and writing letters to your mom and dad? Or do you remember the icy cold lake water, getting bitten by mosquitoes and wanting to go home?

Camp - when carefully planned and chosen by parents and children together - can be a positive and enriching experience for kids. If a child is persuaded or pressured to go when he isn't yet ready, it could be a disaster. We'll give you some tips to make sure your child is ready for camp - but first, what's so great about camp, anyway?

Why send your child to camp?
The American Camp Association has conducted independent research that shows that children who go to camp, even for as short as one week each summer, show growth in areas such as self-confidence, making friends, exploring and learning new activities, independence and spirituality.

Peg Smith, executive director of the American Camp Association, makes a strong case for the camp experience. "Camp activities and group living in a natural environment are the tools used to create camp communities that provide for successful, healthy development and a place where having fun is a daily criterion," she says. "In such a structured environment, children interact with positive role models who have time to listen, talk, relax and reflect. They learn to work together, make choices, develop creative skills, build independence and self-reliance, take responsibility and gain confidence. All are necessary steps on a child's path to a healthy, productive life."

In contrast to school, camp provides hands-on, experiential learning. Smith reminds us, "Sometimes we try so hard to make our children the best that they can be, we forget the essence of childhood. We forget that perhaps the most important things we ever learned didn't come from sitting through biology, but rather from watching tadpoles transform into frogs and caterpillars into butterflies."

At camp, children have the opportunity to make new friends and new connections that can last a lifetime. They have a chance to experience an environment that may be very different from the one in which they live, and to meet other children from different backgrounds and geographical areas. They are able to fill roles as both leaders and members of groups. They get plenty of time to have fun and relax - and that kind of time is becoming more and more scarce for all of us, even our children.

What's more, camp can provide a chance for a child to learn about a particular area of interest. For example, my daughter Katie loved the idea of horseback riding, but had only had one chance to ride a horse. She attended a six-day sleepaway camp last year that provided both a general camp experience (swimming, s'mores, arts and crafts) and some focused time learning how to ride and care for horses. It was a very positive way for her to explore her passion in a safe and supportive environment.

Is your child ready for camp?
So, you're convinced camp could be a wonderful experience for your child. But is he ready to go? How can you tell?
Many parents wonder if their child is truly ready for the camp experience, whether it's a day camp or overnight or "sleepaway" camp. If a child is school-aged, a day camp will be similar to a school day, only with more high-preference, physical and hands-on activities. Thus, most children by the age of 6 or 7 will be ready for a day camp experience.

For sleepaway camp, the decision can become more complex. Some questions to ponder: Has your child had a sleepover at a friend's house successfully? Has he gone to stay with grandparents for a weekend? Has he attended day camp already?

These types of experiences prepare children for sleepaway camp. Many camps now offer an introductory session that is a shorter number of days - typically three to five - as a stepping stone to a longer sleepaway camp. There are also overnight camps where children stay over only one night. Starting with one of these abbreviated stays is a good idea for a first-time overnight camper.

Let your child be your guide. Is he really "raring to go" or just lukewarm about the prospect of sleepaway camp? Was it your idea or your child's? How much does he talk about camp? Have his overnight experiences with friends or relatives been positive ones, or have they been difficult? Stay tuned in to him, and be sure he's the one who really wants to go. Pushing him beyond his comfort level here can backfire.

Above all, trust your instincts and your child. My daughter surprised me last year by being totally ready to go to a Girl Scout sleepaway camp for six days and five nights, and she was only 7 years old, which is considered just about the youngest age for overnight camp. I am sure I was more nervous than she was. However, she's the type of child who loves social experiences and is very confident in her own abilities. She'd stayed over with her grandparents for weekend visits without a problem. I knew she was ready because she was so confident about being able to go and she had strong motivation and desire (she couldn't stop talking about it, in fact). In contrast, I remember vividly when I was 10 years old and stayed at my aunt's in the country for a week. I was terribly homesick by day four. I ended up going home early.

There is a lot of variation in when children are ready for sleepaway camp experiences, and that variation often depends on the individual personality and development of the child. You know your child best. If he's uncertain, it may be better not to push too early, but to sign him up for a one-night overnight camp or even a day camp and wait one more year. Before you know it, you'll be the one holding back tears when it's time to drop him off.

What camp is best?
There are so many kinds of camps available for kids. What we typically think of as "summer camp" are more properly called recreational camps - they offer a smattering of activities from arts and crafts to swimming to group sports, and a lot of variety over the day and week. Then there are specialized camps - everything from science camp, to horseback riding camp, to chess camp - whatever you can think of that could be a child's hobby, there's a camp for it. With more than 7,000 overnight camps and 5,000 day camps in America to choose from, you should have no problem finding one that's a perfect fit for your child.

A general recreational camp is a great choice for many kids, but if your child has a special talent or passion that he's interested in deepening, look to see if there is a specialized camp that focuses on that activity. One great resource for finding camps is
Lauren Ware is a freelance writer in Vermont. Her daughter Katie is going to sleepaway camp to learn the circus arts this summer.

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June 2020

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

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Mint Museum Randolph
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Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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View map »


Website »

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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
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Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

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Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $13+

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View map »


Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6 for parking, activities and food available for purchase

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
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View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

Cost: $8, $10 on weekends and school holidays

Where:
Superior Play Systems
11415 Granite St.
Suite C
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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More information

Teach or play with your child in the heated pool.

Cost: $5 per swimmer, max $15 per family

Where:
Goldfish Swim School
13403 S. Ridge Drive
, NC
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Visit Harrisburg or two days of fun, including amusements, food, entertainment and two nights of fireworks!

Cost: Free

Where:
Harrisburg Park
191 Sims Pkwy.
Harrisburg, NC
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Website »

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rab dinner from a variety of local food trucks at this weekly rally. Visit the website for a list of participating trucks.

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Resident Culture Brewing Company
2101 Central Ave.
, NC
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This family-friendly event features craft brews, wine, cider, live music and the best food trucks in Charlotte. Bring the whole family, including your dogs. Along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
, NC
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Treat the kids and yourself to a fun night out! Drop kids off to run, play and dance. Pizza dinner is included.

Cost: $25

Where:
Romp n' Roll NW Charlotte
3611 Mt. Holly-Huntersville Road
207
, NC
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Website »

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The businesses at the Warehouses on White are pleased to host each first Friday for a night of fun and food!

Cost: Free

Where:
Warehouse on White
130 W. White St.
Rock Hill, SC
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Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 4th of July at the annual fireworks show, which will occur on both July 3 and July 4.

Cost: $45+, children 3-5 receive free admission with Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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Website »

More information

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

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Kick off Independence Day with a 4-mile race and 1-mile kids’ run. There will be no race-day registration. The event starts in Midtown with a family friendly finish line festival at Park...

Cost: $7-$42+

Where:
Metropolitan
1111 Metropolitan Ave.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Sponsor: New Dominion
Website »

More information

Bring the kids, strollers or dogs to complete 7.4 miles, 7.4 kilometers or 1.7 miles.

Cost: $25+

Where:
The Huntersville Business Park
13420 Reese Blvd. W.
Huntersville, NC
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Website »

More information

Before the afternoon and evening festivities, enjoy a morning parade. The parade will travel down Highway 49 beginning at Captain Steve’s Restaurant and ending at Robinson Ave. off...

Cost: Free

Where:
Highway 49
Harrisburg, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Welcome new citizens to the Charlotte community at a U.S. Oath and Naturalization ceremony. Learn more about the meaning of citizenship, democracy, immigration and freedom, and participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Parade will feature vehicles, walkers, trucks, military equipment, horses and fire trucks.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Indian Trail
Indian Trail, NC


Website »

More information

Decorate your bikes and wagons at the Town Hall Green at 5:15pm for the People's Parade, which will begin at 6:15pm. Decorations will be provided. Picnic in Stumptown Park, beginning at 6pm,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stumptown Park
120 S. Trade St.
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stars versus Stripes will feature some of the best collegiate players in the nation with fireworks to follow.

Cost: $19+

Where:
BB&T Stadium
324 S. Mint St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy music outdoors with the family. Dates: April 28, May 3, May 17, June 7, June 14, July 4, Aug. 2, Aug. 23, Sept. 6 and Sept. 20.

Cost: Free

Where:
Davidson Village Green
Intersection of Main Street and Concord Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Watch Kannapolis take on West Virginia!

Cost: TBA

Where:
Atrium Health Ballpark
1 Cannon Baller Way
Kannapolis, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The DJ and beverage garden will kick off at 6pm, and featured bands will start at 7pm. Food will be available for purchase.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Belmont
Main Street
Belmont, NC
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Website »

More information

All Kids Workshop attendees must be accompanied by a parent or adult at all times. All kids get to keep their craft, receive a free certificate of achievement, a workshop apron, and a commemorative...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Home Depot
4750 South Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

In addition to pass activities, the festival will feature live music, yoga, Battle Royale SUP Sprint and two days of fireworks. 

Cost: $6 for parking, activities and food available for purchase

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm, the arcade bar opens to all ages with a parent or guardian present.

Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit Harrisburg or two days of fun, including amusements, food, entertainment and two nights of fireworks!

Cost: Free

Where:
Harrisburg Park
191 Sims Pkwy.
Harrisburg, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

Celebrate the 4th of July at the annual fireworks show, which will occur on both July 3 and July 4.

Cost: $45+, children 3-5 receive free admission with Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Carowinds will pay tribute to military service men and women by honoring their bravery during Military Days. Active, inactive and retired service members are granted free admission to Carowinds by...

Cost: Free to military service men and women

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This cultural celebration will include The Spectacle of Color Parade, a street party and festive foods.

Cost: $45+, children ages 3-5 free entry with a Pre-K Pass

Where:
Carowinds Paladium
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

G.P.S. [Go.Play.See]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2019 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

A comprehensive guide to independent, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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