Be grateful the Tri-Cities offers a lot for children

Summer's over, school has started and so has the regimented schedule for kids.

But before we bid goodbye to summer, let's be thankful for all the season has to offer. One of the benefits of summer vacation is the chance for families to relax a bit and for kids to try new things. And Tri-City kids are lucky. They live in a community that offers a ton of activities designed especially for them.

Some towns might not be able to offer much, but with three good-sized cities and a wide variety of organizations that cater to kids, the Tri-Cities is a great place for a child to spend a summer.

Swimming lessons are a traditional hot-weather activity, but a look at the park and recreation guides in Kennewick, Pasco and Richland reveals a range of summer activities that go way beyond what's happening at the city pools.

For kids who like sports, there are tennis lessons, golf lessons, basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball, karate, gymnastics, bowling, cheerleading, soccer, flag football and even kayaking.

For kids who wanted to learn to play a new instrument, there was the five-week band camp in Kennewick. Want to learn how to make chocolate? There was a class in Pasco. How about sewing? It was offered in Richland.

This summer, kids could learn how to train a dog, figure out the game of chess, go on a fossil dig and even learn how to be a circus clown.

All three cities offered arts and craft programs, as did Allied Arts, which focused on pottery, painting, stamp making, jewelry, photography and watercolors.

Washington State University Tri-Cities provided some great science programs for kids from kindergarten through middle school. Robots and creepy crawlers were part of the fun for the younger children, while the older kids could learn about basic engineering designs and other science-related concepts.

For those families looking for free activities, all they had to do was go to the public libraries. Story times are offered year-round, as are many craft projects.

But this summer at the Kennewick branch of the Mid-Columbia Library on Union Street, they also could hang out with Master Gardeners and learn about trees and worms and pollination. Kids also had the chance to attend a free concert in Keewaydin Park by the children's band Recess Monkey.

Even the movie theaters offered free or $1 movies all summer long for kids. Smoovies in Richland allows families to have time together, sitting outside in the grass on Friday and Saturday nights and watching shows for free on the big screen.

These are just a sample of what was offered to kids this summer. YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Columbia Basin College, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, church camps and numerous other organizations all gave kids a chance to have a good time this summer.

With a little planning, there really wasn't a reason for kids to be bored over the long vacation. There were fun and educational activities all around.