Soon, the final school bell will ring, and the last bus will pull out of the school parking lot to drop off students at home for the last time this school year. Some of these students may find themselves working this summer or visiting family away from home. If neither of these are options for your child this summer, maybe one of the following can occupy their time. These 11 camps are still recruiting young campers, and each offers a unique and rewarding experience that is sure to benefit your child and give them life lessons and memories. Explo Summer Program: Boasting three different campuses in Connecticut, Explo, short for Exploration, has been a two- to three-week long summer option for more than 35 years. Your child can take classes that interest them, ranging from politics to improv. When classes are done, there are afternoon and evening activities. explo.org When: Session One: June 30-July 20; Session Two: July 21-Aug. 10. Rates: $5,315 - $5,640 L’Academie de Cuisine: If your child always wants to help in the kitchen, the L’Academie de Cuisine offers week-long day camps. Classes are divided into children and teens, and classes for both age groups offer delicious options such as Tour of Italy. Sign-ups are available up to the first day of class, but classes are small making spots limited. Kids eat all they create. Week-long camps starting June 17 through 21 until Aug. 12-16. Two teen evening classes, July 9 and 10; Aug. 13 and 14. Rates: $405 for week; $175 for evening. Washington International School: WIS has specialty camps for ages 3-10 including a workshop balanced with sports and games. There are also language camps for ages 3-10 or 7-12. Language options are Chinese, French and Spanish. Extended day care available. www.wis.edu; Where: Washington International School (1690 36th Street NW, Washington DC 20007) When: Week-long sessions, beginning June 24 until Aug. 05. Rates: $200-$395 Headfirst Summer Camps: With options for kids from ages 3 ½ to 12, and a variety of sport and education camps, there is sure to be a fit for your child. www.headfirstcamps.com; 202-625-1921. Where: Mater Dei School or St. Albans School When: Sessions running from June 10 to Aug. 19. Rates: $125-$439 Digital Media Academy: Kids ages 6-11 can enjoy day camps, and 12-17 aged teens can take a one or two-week long course, staying either just during the day or overnight at GWU. Topics include filmmaking, photography and music production. www.digitalmediaacademy.org; Where: George Washington University Campus When: One-Week or Two-Week (ages 13-17 only) sessions July 8-12, July 15-19, July 22-26, and July 29-Aug. 2. Rates: $695-$3015 Smithsonian Summer Camp: The 44th year of Summer Camp at the Smithsonian features camps for grades K-9 at the Smithsonian Institution. www.smithsonianassociates.org/camp; Where: S. Dillon Ripley Center, Smithsonian Institution When: June 24 – Aug. 16. One week long sessions with both half-day and full-day programs. Rates: Full Day: $185-$428. D.C. United Summer Camp Series and Striker/GK Camps: Campers will have the chance to meet a D.C. United first team player each week as they reinforce foundational soccer elements and learn new skills from the pros. D.C. United Training Complex www.dcunited.com/camps/summer; Where: D.C. United Training Complex (2400 East Capitol St., SE, Washington, D.C.) When: June 17-21 until Aug. 12-19; Striker/GK Camp July 8-12; July 29-Aug. 2. Summer Safari Day Camp Summer Safari: is available for children entering grades K-7. Campers will explore the lives of animals and take part in projects. www.nationalzoo.si.edu/Education/Camp; Where: Smithsonian National Zoological Park When: June 17 – Aug. 9 Rates: Five-day sessions: $380 members/$475 non-members. Four-day session (July 1-3, 5): $305/$382. Crime Museum’s (CSI) Camp: Campers get a hands-on experience in crime investigation. On the final day of camp, campers participate in a mock court trial. www.crimemuseum.org/DC_Summer_Camp; Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment When: June 17 – June 21; July 15 – July 19 Rates: $275-$475. Mariner Sailing School: Campers will learn the rules and skills involved in sailing with a student-to-instructor ratio of 6:1. www.saildc.com; Where: Belle Haven Marina in Alexandria, Va. When: Beginning June 3rd Rates: $200-$480 Washington Performing Arts Society: These one-week programs are funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Each program is designed to teach your child confidence in whichever art they are partaking. www.wpas.org/education/kids/spaa; 202-533-1861. Time and location vary by program. ?
The days are getting longer. The weather will get warmer, and school will be out soon enough. It’s the time of year when parents are deciding how their child will spend their summer vacation. Instead of lounging around the house, take a look at some of the summer camps offered in the area. No matter what a child’s interest may be, from technology to theater, there is a camp for them. Be sure to sign up soon because sessions are filling up, some even offer discounts for early registration. Whether it’s a half-day or full day program, most camps are offering before and after care for an additional cost, check with specific camps for details. Levine School Music and Art Day Camp www.levineschool.org, (202) 686-8000 Where: Campuses in D.C. (2801 Upton St. NW), Strathmore in Bethesda, Md., and Arlington, Va. When: Sessions from June 24-July 12 and July 15-August 2 with both half-day and full-day programs. Rates: $1,170 full day tuition, $810 half-day tuition This year’s theme for the popular summer program at Levine school of music is Water, Water Everywhere. Students, ages 3 1/2 to 12, will use the theme to actively learn music, dance, stories, games, and arts from various cultures, as well as get hands on exposure to classical instruments taught by Levine school faculty. Georgetown University Summer Day Camp at Yates Field House www.yates.georgetown.edu, (202) 687-2400 Where: Centered at Georgetown University at Yates Field House. When: Six week long sessions, the first beginning June 24 and the last starting July 20 Rates: $280 for Yates members and $380 for nonmembers before May 1. Prices increase to $300 for members and $400 for nonmembers after May 1. The comprehensive day-long camp, centered at Yates Field House and Kehoe Field, offers campers ages 6-10 activities including swimming at McCarthy Pool, team-based games, arts and crafts, talent shows and much more. Sidwell Friends School Summer Camps classic.sidwell.edu/summer, (202) 537-8133 Where: D.C. Campus (3825 Wisconsin Ave. NW) and Bethesda Campus. When: Week and two week long sessions are offered in full-day and half day increments. Beginning June 10, with the last session beginning August 5. Rates: Prices vary depending on camp. Sidwell Friends School offers an array of camps for children ages 3 1/2 years old to 12th grade. Camps vary from academic enrichment, specific sports, cultural exploration, adventure camp, and workshop-based programs. Specialty camps include Lego engineering, handwork, and machine sewing camps. No matter a child’s interest, Sidwell Friends School has a program to meet every child’s needs. Tudor Place Summer History Camp www.tudorplace.org/camp.html, (202) 965-0400 Where: Tudor Place (1644 31st Street NW) and Dumbarton House (2715 Q Street NW) When: Week-long sessions begin July 22, with the last session starting August 12. Rates: $175 per session for members, $190 for non-members. For the young ones, ages 4-10, Tudor Place offers a half day camp (9 a.m. - noon) that throws campers head on into the history of Tudor Place and Dumbarton House. Campers walk in the footsteps of past Georgetowners by going on scavenger hunts through the historic houses, explore crafts of the past, dress in period costumes, and conduct archaeological digs. Camp Shakespeare www.shakespearetheatre.org, (202) 547-5688 Where: STC Rehearsal Studio, 516 & 507 8th Street SE, camps also offered in Silver Spring, Md. and McLean, Va. When: Two-week intensives June 17-August 10 and three week advanced camp July 1-July 20. Rates: $725 for two-week intensive, $1,100 for three-week advanced camp. A full day (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) camp separated into three age groups, campers age 9-18 develop talents, build confidence, and deepen their understanding of the work of William Shakespeare. Students study classic acting techniques, stage combat, voice and movement techniques, and improvisation. Campers put on productions and performances on Saturday mornings. Anna Banana Arts & Crafts www.annabananaartsandcrafts.com, (202) 248-0661 Where: Anna Banana Arts & Crafts studio, 3270 S Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20007 When: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Rates: $300 per week Campers will explore the bounty of art and nature in the studio and on our daily excursion to lovely and close-by Montrose Park for a snack, en plein air painting and play time. In the studio, children age 4-8 will explore materials such as clay, paint, pastel and others. Medium include photography, sculpture, painting and print making. We will use the nature around us to inspire art and craft projects. Campers will enjoy the light-filled and relaxed studio atmosphere where we listen to music while creating masterpieces. Campers bring their own bag lunch and a snack. Beauvoir Summer summer.beauvoirschool.org, Where: 3500 Woodley Road, NW Washinton, DC 20016 , 202-537-6485 When: 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. weekdays Rates: Rates vary depending on age. Beauvoir understands the role that play—specifically outdoor play—has in early childhood education, and just how important that role is. This year, the camp introduces, Beauvoir Outdoors, a unique outdoor play space with lots of educational value. While all of our camps will take advantage of the Beauvoir Outdoors as the wonderful play space it is, two camps were designed specifically to expose campers to the many challenges and opportunities that await them outside that door. These camps are Nature Navigators (for 4–6 year olds) and Outdoor Adventures (for 7–10 year olds). ? [gallery ids="101212,144974,144970" nav="thumbs"]
You might not see them right away, but you sure can hear them. The teacher bellows, “Supermans!” and a bunch of people a quarter of his size giggle and reach out their arms. “Now, Hulk,” he rumbles, flexing his biceps, as several smaller pairs of arms Hulk out on the blacktop. “Batmaaaaans!” he sings, his rapt audience following every move. A half block from busy Wisconsin Avenue, where the buses blow exhaust and the cab drivers honk, Hyde-Addison Elementary School is a vibrant, integral part of Georgetown life. This D.C. public school is a place of non-stop action—with 15 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria and a science lab—even after school. “For starters,” says Kara Sullivan, whose son Curtis is in Kindergarten at Hyde, “the strong sense of community is strengthened by seeing classmates, teachers, parents, and Hyde t-shirts as we walk around Georgetown. Where my elementary school had school buses lines up to swiftly take kids away from school at 3:15, there’s a lingering open play date for all kids after Hyde gets out.” The social curriculum, in the playground, is just as important as what goes inside the school’s walls. Hyde operates on a philosophy that positive interaction is crucial to learning and that learning itself is not simply academic learning. One of the school’s tenets reads, “There is a set of social skills that kids need to be successful: cooperation, assertion, responsibility empathy and self-control.” The school’s physical layout and its meetings and rules are designed to encourage positive interaction—between students and teachers, parents and administrators. And, though it is not explicitly stated, between the school and its environment. Hyde might once have been a place that drove parents to move out of Georgetown and ignored by those who could afford to send their children elsewhere. Now, Hyde pulls families into Georgetown. The price is right, the commute to school a pleasant stroll, the parents and kids proud of the place. “Georgetown often feels like a small town tucked in a big city,” says Dana Nerenberg, Hyde’s principal. She adds that the school benefits greatly from the community, from volunteers to partnerships. A local school makes the big city seem manageable and, perhaps, not so scary. “One of the benefits of a neighborhood school is having other kids to play with after school and on weekends," says Leslie Maysak, who has two boys at Hyde and a block-long commute. "As well as, for me as a parent, knowing the other families personally and having a network of people that can count on each other to pick up your child in a pinch or keep an eye on them for a few minutes,” Hyde’s presence makes Georgetown about more than just shopping and (lack of) parking. Bob Tompkins’s son, Jack, is in first grade. “To really be a community,” he says, “you have to cover all the aspects of life. It is great that among all the other things Georgetown has to offer, it is a great place to raise a family.” Ten years ago, there was zero buzz about Hyde. For some parents, sending a kid there was a radical move; few of their neighbors in Georgetown did. Many of the kids who grew up near Hyde were driven, or took the bus, up and out Wisconsin Avenue to private school. Now, Hyde is a strong and growing part of the life of the neighborhood. Enrollments are up, and interest in the school is high. With the PTA’s help, the school has bought iPads and intends to incorporate them into next year’s curriculum. The school is looking to expand its library and build a gym. [gallery ids="100796,124386,124383" nav="thumbs"]
In the green spirit of the spring, let's look at how business schools are working towards a greener environment. Can the future business men and women learn not only how to go out there and make millions of dollars, but also how to be environmentally responsible? The George Washington School of Business is one of the business schools that integrates corporate social responsibility into their business programs. GWU offers the so-called ''green'' MBA in Environmental Policy and Management which focuses on the science, technology and social impact of global business, grooming the students to go work for the government, NGO's and non-profits. Other universities in the Washington metro area who offer ''green'' MBAs are the University of Maryland and the Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, who offer MBA programs concerning social and environmental awareness in business. One of the former GWU students who graduated in 2009 is Mark Frieden. He decided to do the MBA in Environmental Policy and Management after reading about triple bottom line management, also known as the three pillars; people, planet and profit on the website beyondgreypinstripes.org. ''The main focus in the education was to learn how to make sure that companies have environmental responsibility. Take oil companies that drill for oil in the sea. There's nothing wrong with drilling for oil, but they have to make sure that they do it in an environmental responsible way so that we can avoid disasters like the BP oil spill in 2010,'' says Frieden, who's currently on the board of DC Greenworks. DC Greenworks is a non-profit organization that among other things work with green roofs, rain barrels and rain gardens, urban agriculture and green job training. It is not just business schools working to integrate corporate responsibility into the minds of business men and women. Net Impact is a non-profit membership organization for professionals and students who wish to use their business skills to support environmental and social causes. The organization was started in 1993 as Students for Responsible Business, and was renamed in 1998 to include both students and professional MBA graduates. ''Net Impact has been important for how business schools started to integrate environmental responsibility in their programs'', says Mark Frieden. Net Impact is based in San Franscisco and has 280 volunteer-led chapters in business schools across the U.S. and countries on the other continents. Both George Washington University's School of Business, Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and the University of Maryland have Net Impact chapters. The member students seek to build a network of business leaders commited to making a positive environmental, social and economic impact.
April is National Autism Awareness Month, a chance to celebrate these afflicted but remarkable members of our community and better educate the public on the nature of autism. And The Color of Autism Foundation, an organization devoted to raising awareness about African Americans living with autism, will mark the occasion on April 2, kicking off fundraising events and donation drives. Autism, or autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of neurological and developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communicational and behavioral challenges among those who have it. A surprising statistic by the Center for Disease Control even points out that about one in 88 children are living with it in America today. The disease is most prevalent among among African American and Hispanic males, who have a rate of one in 54. Founded in 2009, The Color of Autism, a nonprofit organization, works to educate and assist African American families with Autistic children, who are frequently confronted with late diagnoses or misdiagnoses due to insufficient health care plans. The foundation’s goal is to help families identify the warning signs of autism early on, explains founder Camille Proctor. “We can start to overturn these disparities by helping African Americans with autism reach their full potential and empowering families with information on autism that they can use to advocate services for their child.” “We are committed to raising public awareness about ASD,” she continues, “empowering families and lessening their isolation. We are dedicated to ensuring that all people with autism receive appropriate and effective services to maximize their growth potential.” The foundation is currently working on a documentary film, offering a new perspective on the Autism epidemic. “Screaming in Silence: Autism” is a documentary about the affects of Autism on African American families, which has a resonating impact on the school systems, health and human services, judicial system, medical, mental health, therapeutic industry and caregivers in African American communities. This film follows the daily lives of several families across the United States who have children, both young and old, who suffer from autism. What the film hopes to make clear is, though autistic individuals are as unique and land full of life as anyone, their caregivers and loved ones share one ubiquitous goal: to fight to ensure their children have the best quality of life. For more information on how to take action or donate to this organization during the month of April, please contact info@TheColorOfAutism.org or visit www.TheColorOfAutism.org. Click here to see trailer for “Screaming in Silence: Autism.”
As the season changes into beautiful spring, it's time to start thinking about where you want to send your kids when school closes for the summer and you still have long days at the office ahead of you. The Washington area offers a wide selection of camps that can give your child a memorable summer adventure. Whether they're into sports, camping, music, technology, art or academic learning, there are options to suit almost any interest. Camps are filling up quickly, so make sure to check out what Washington has to offer before your kid's dream camp is full! TIC Summer Camp ticcamp.com 571-765-0329 Where: Georgetown Day School, 4200 Davenport Street, Washington, D.C. 20016 When: June 18- August 10 How much: $820 per two-week session, $50 off for each session after the first one. TIC is a technology/sports day camp for kids between 7 and 16 years old, celebrating 30 years in 2012. It has a 4:1 learning ratio, where kids learn through fun techonology and athletic activities. Technology activities include programming, digital art, animation, film making and web design. Sports activities include basketball, gymnastics, street hockey, dance and capture the flag. ''TIC is unique because we offer the perfect body/mind balance. The most popular activity at TIC is programming, kids as young as 7 and as old as 16 create video games based on their favorite things,'' says Executive Director, Emily Riedel. Program runs from 8.30 a.m – 3 p.m., extended day is offered until 6 p.m. Beauvoir Summer Camps summer.beauvoirschool.org 202-537-6485 Where: The campus at the Washington National Cathedral, 3500 Woodley Road NW, Washinton, D.C. 20016 When: June 18- August 3 How much: $250-$425 per week Beauvoir offers a range of different programs for children, 3 to 11, and a Counselor in Training program for tweens and teens between 12 and 16 years old. The programs are also offered as a combination of academic learning and general fun and adventurous summer camp experiences, such as art, swimming, cooking, science and outdoor activities. ''The component that both parents and children seem to be most excited about is the swimming. We have our own pool on the premises, and all the camps except the primarily academic ones offer swimming with instructors. We also offer swimming lessons before and after the camps, for children to become more safe in the pool,'' says Camp Director, Hugh Squire. Beauvoir camp days usually run from 8.30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Before and after camp care is also offered, from 7.30-8.30 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. Georgetown University Summer Camps at Yates Field House yates.georgetown.edu/summer/ firstname.lastname@example.org Where: The Yates Field House, Kehoe Field, and McCarthy Pool, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057 When: June 25 and consist of 6 separate one-week sessions. How much: $380 per week, $280 per week for current Yates Field House members. The Day Camp is a day-long activity camp for kids aged 6 to 10 years old. Days usually run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. After care is offered until 4:30 p.m. Activities include indoor and outdoor team-based games, creative projects, swimming, bingo and talent shows. Audubon Naturalist Societey's Summer Nature Camps http://www.audubonnaturalist.org 301-652-9188 x15 (Karen Vernon) Where: Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, and Lathrop E. Smith Center in Rockville. When: June 18- August 17. How much: From $128-$710 per week. Audubon Naturalist Society Summer Camps offer both day and overnight camps with outdoor fun and discovery for kids and teenagers from 4 to 17 years old. Activities include games, hikes, songs, great camping traditions and environmental education in a natural setting. Camp days usually start at 8:45 a.m. and end 3 or 4 p.m. The camp also offers aftercare, from 4 to 6 p.m. Corcoran Gallery of Art's Camp Creativity www.corcoran.org/family/camps (202) 639-1770 Where: Corcoran Gallery locations in Georgetown, Downtown and near Capitol Hill. When: June 18- August 1 How much: $170-$590 per week (morning, afternoon or full day sessions) Corcoran Gallery of Art offers different art summer camps for kids aged 5 to 16. The schedule for each camp group is age-appropriate and activities include sculpture making, painting, ceramics, jewelry making, photography, cartooning and so much more. Other camps worth checking out: Levine School of Music's Summer Camps, levineschool.org School of Rock Summer Camps, sordc.com/ Georgetown University Summer Programs, scs.georgetown.edu Visitation Preparatory School's Sports Summer Camps, visi.org/ Camp Rim Rock, camprimrock.com/ Camp Arena Stage, arenastage.org/ Georgetown Day School’s Summer Camps, www.gds.org/
Three years ago, Sarah Wu, a speech pathologist for Chicago public schools, didn’t have time to pack her own lunch. Not thinking anything of it, she left home, drove to work, taught her students and when the lunch bell rang, she walked down the hall towards the cafeteria. As she read the menu options, Wu was not impressed. Soggy bagels, tater tots, mushy over-microwaved frozen pizzas. Feeling the gurgle in her own stomach, she was thinking more about the 90 percent of kids who qualify for free lunch and consider these options to be the best they’ll get all day. These lunches are provided by the National School Lunch program which feeds students in more than 101,000 public and non-profit private schools and residential child care institutions across the country. The government claims that it provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each and every school day. Are those meals truly healthful? Wu went home angry and started a blog, Fed Up With Lunch, in which she ate in her cafeteria every day for a year and wrote about the meals. At the same time, First Lady Michelle Obama was beginning her Let’s Move campaign and chef Jamie Oliver was beginning his television show, Food Revolution, bringing national attention to the problems in our school cafeterias today. In the U.S., 12.5 million children are obese. Could Congress be to blame since it has claimed pizza as a vegetable and have tried removing the potato from the program all together? Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) fought to keep the vegetable on the menu and won. “Here is the federal government trying to teach people to eat whole foods, to eat locally grown foods -- there are all these farm-to-school programs to teach children where food comes from -- and to try to get them to eat it in a way that is not processed heavily and [removing the potato] is contrary to all of that,” she said. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) fought alongside Collins on the issue. “Can you imagine not having a potato in the school lunch program?" Snowe asked. "I don’t understand it.” Andrea Northup, director and founder of D.C. Farm to School Network, a coalition of stakeholders working to incorporate more healthful, local foods into D.C. school meals, has revolutionized the food in school cafeterias across the Washington area. She says that despite the potato fiasco, there has been a huge positive shift in the cafeteria thanks to programs like her own. “We’ve gone from prepackaged airplane style meals, Frosted Flakes and Otis Spunkmeyer, to minimally processed meals prepared from whole ingredients.” The Farm to School Network connects students with where their food comes from, provides health, food and environmental education opportunities and supports the local food economy. The network, which began four years ago in D.C. serves two-thirds of all school-aged children in the city. Each of the 63 schools -- participating and serving meals approved by the Healthy Schools Act, a local law that went into effect in 2010 which sets nutrition and serving standards for D.C. schools participating in the federal school meal program -- receives supplemental funding from the local government. Northup does face daily challenges. One example involves getting the kids to eat these foods. “There are a lot of issues now where the kids are not familiar with a roasted sweet potato when they are used to eating french fries or sauteed broccoli when they’re used to green beans in a can," she said. "School menus now look more like a restaurant than what you particularly think school meals would be. If you looked up the menus, you’d be flabbergasted at the words you’d see like 'chipotle roasted,' 'lemon sauteed,' as you think of these words when you think of restaurant meals. It is really impressive what the institution and community support of all of us has been able to do.” Another drawback is funding. Northup has been fortunate enough to have incredible partners, such as Sweetgreen, a salad and frozen yogurt restaurant establishment, which contributes financially as well as works with the children on salad-making classes in the schools. Northrup adds that it is up to D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson to decide whether funding D.C. Farm to School and feeding the children locally and sustainably is worth the check. “You’re getting what you pay for when you invest in healthier school meals," Northup says. "Even slightly higher costs in the short term, in my opinion, pay off in terms of higher attentiveness of the children, better outcomes for the children, higher productivity in school and in life. We are preventing these more costly diseases materializing in the future by investing now. It is something that doesn’t resonate well with someone like the chancellor who is in charge of balancing the books now, and you can’t blame her for that." Northup says that because of the Healthy Schools Act, the law which was just recently passed by the D.C. Council, providing funding incentives and institutional support to schools that serve healthful food, Farm to School has gone from a “Huh, what’s that?” notion to a household name. Farm to School programs are popping up all over the nation, some larger and some smaller than the program established in D.C. While many boggle with how to pay for the newer food choices, the menu seems to be pleasing. Susan Wu, the blogger who took matters into her own hands to fix the lunches her students were eating, is thrilled with the changes taking place in schools across the country and believes that the more involved communities are, the more successful the outcome will be. Wu says she can’t imagine kids going back to what they used to eat and has even made a menu of the future on her blog to show how food is evolving for student lunches, available at [fedupwithlunch.com](http://fedupwithlunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/beforeafter.png) For Northup, the real bottom-line choice is this: “Are we willing to look long-term and look strategically at food service because we see that it is very important to health and success of our children, or are we not?”
One of the best parts of living in Georgetown is the array of secret lives glimpsed through windows, down pathways, and even underground. In the basements of two churches on the east side of Georgetown bubbles a life of intense industry and social tumult, hurt feelings and life-long friendships. And that goes for the one-year-olds and their parents. Open an ugly brown metal door and step into a world of bright floor mats, busy babies and equally engaged parents and caregivers. This is Blue Igloo, a playgroup for kids ranging from six months to three years. The schedule here runs from “transportation toys and tumbling,” at 9 a.m., to “songs, bubbles, puppets,” an hour later. It all wraps up by lunch, after story time and clean up. Blue Igloo was founded in 2000 in a rebuff to Georgetown’s other playgroup, the 35-year-old Intown. Like the papal schism, the creation of a new gathering place for the pre-pre-school sent waves through a certain section of Georgetown. Which one is better? Where are my friends going? Will all the cool people go to Intown while I am stuck at Blue Igloo? Or vice versa? But as the population that rides in strollers continues to boom, there are plenty of applicants for both playgroups, and, to the outsider, the two groups seem to be almost exactly the same. Blue Igloo is now the morning home to 55 kids and their caregivers. It is mostly moms, though the occasional dad comes by for an hour or two. It is a French, Spanish, English and sign language immersion program, according to the director, Sabria Lounes. And the children learn key skills, even if they don’t necessarily learn them in French. “The kids learn to sit, for snack they sit, and they get into a routine. I have to write recommendation letters for kids for the next schools, and these things matter,” says Lounes, who has been running Blue Igloo since its creation. Gavin, who is two and a half, “gets to interact with other kids, he loves to come here, he loves the singing, he loves the snack most of all,” according to Myrtle Perry, Gavin’s nanny. She says she, too, loves Blue Igloo. “I talk to everybody, all the mothers and the nannies, I look forward to coming here every day.” Two blocks away at Intown, the scene is much the same. One and 2-year-olds buzz around doing animal puzzles and playing with plastic cars. 45 families are enrolled at Intown and, like Blue Igloo, Intown often has a waiting list of families eager to get in. Get over the admissions hurdle and you get an emphasis on child-centered learning. “We’re focused, right now, on sensory materials,” says Mandy Sheffer, Intown’s director. “Soft and hard, finger paints, there’s a lot that goes on behind what we do with the kids every day.” “It is nice to come to a space where the play and structure is thought-out,” says Jacqueline Bourgeois, the mother of 15-month-old Ferdinand. “At home, I don’t know how to do that. I am learning as much as he is.” And therein lies the real success of Georgetown’s busy playgroups. They are places for moms. Moms need the companionship and learning time offered by Intown and Blue Igloo as much as their kids do. They learn when should a kid quit using a pacifier and what other parents feed their kids. They find potty training tricks, tips for getting along with others, and how to create tight bonds. Nobody needs to get out of the house more than a new mother with a little kid. This is a place to go. “I’ve made my closest friends here and it has been a wonderful place for us both to come and socialize,” Intown’s Elizabeth Taylor, the mother of Mac, 16 months, says. “Parents get to talk to other parents,” agrees Annie Lou Berman at Blue Igloo. “We’ve made really great friends here,” she adds, as 2-year-old Teddy scuttles up to see her. “We’re all in the same life stage,” nods Karina Homme, mother of Sebastian, who is 20 months old. There is a certain type of family called to these pre-pre-schools. One mother refers to her playgroup as “the cocktail party set.” Most are from Georgetown, though a few come from as far away as Alexandria. About half the moms work, though on a recent day the nannies outnumbered the parents at both places. The parents have to pony up between $3,000 and $4,000 for block building and snack eating. And Georgetown’s playgroups mostly funnel into the private pre-schools, and from there into the private elementary schools. Of course, there are occasional storms in the world of the bouncy-bounce. Two-year-olds won’t share. Parents try to ditch their “duty days” (dates on which they are required to show up and help out) by sending their nannies instead. And the playgroup admission committees sometimes mess up by letting in imperious parents who can’t seem to get along with anyone, or parents who insist that their bodyguards accompany field trips, or the one child who bites: a serious no-no in little kid land. And then there are the scary parents who really do seem to think Intown leads to Princeton. But they are few. For most of them, Georgetown’s playgroups lead to a sense of community, fast friends, and, most importantly, a place to go on a rainy October morning.
Anyone who walks the historic streets of our capital city will undoubtedly have a few unexplainable stories to share…even if one of them only involves tripping on one of those wayward bricks and stumbling away with a forehead raspberry. Smacked heads or not, strange stuff happens in old D.C. neighborhoods and the spook quotient naturally spikes around Halloween. One Washingtonian especially versed in good D.C. ghost stories is Cindy Hays, executive director of the Congressional Cemetery on E Street, SE. In fact, she relishes the graveyard’s best tales from the crypt. “One of our ‘residents’ has apparently been seen in town,” she says. She’s speaking of Robert “Beau” Hickman, who died in 1873 and lived in the old National Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. “When he died penniless, his drinking buddies decided he deserved better than the Potter’s Field where he had just been buried, and went to retrieve him,” says Hays. According to legend, upon returning to the cemetery to collect their friend and give him a proper burial, Hickman’s posse came face-to-face with a group of grave robbers who were collecting bodies for medical experiments, a common, “no questions asked” practice at the time. Despite saving their friend’s remains from an undignified second purpose, the friends were spooked and ready to exit the cemetery as soon as possible. They quickly dug a grave for Hickman and ran out to soothe themselves with a drink. However, it seems they were followed by their grateful (though deceased) companion. “Beau, it seems, missed the good times too much to stay put for long, and began to haunt their card games at the old hotel. After the National was torn down, Beau was often seen standing at the corner at 6th & Penn looking for his old friends.” Apparently, the cash-poor but spirited man managed to be stylish, even in the afterlife. “He’s been spotted in modern times, looking as dapper as ever,” says Hays. “He is easily recognized by his beaver hat, cane, and diamond stick-pin.” Hickman is one of the ‘residents’ who will be making a comeback for the cemetery’s Halloween “Ghosts and Goblets” event. The cemetery has hired actors to dress in costume and lurk by the graves of the people they are portraying. Those with tickets to the event will go on a torch light tour of the headstones, where the actors will be ready with spine-tingling stories of dirt, death and drama. “We’re calling it the ‘Sinners and Scoundrels’ tour,” says Hays. It’s going to be pretty scary to visit the actual burial sites of these people at dusk while hearing their stories.” Begged for more salacious details of the Congressional dwellers, Hays delves into the tale of Mary Hall, a famed nineteenth century Capitol Hill madam with a penchant for leaving her mark. “Her story came to light when the Smithsonian began construction on the new American Indian Museum,” says Hays. “As the foundation was dug, archeologists found a surprising number of champagne bottles and gilt dinnerware shards.” Evidently, capitalism was good to Hall in the capital city. Having managed a thriving booty business for years, she had some extra funds to plan for the inevitable. She bought 18 plots at the cemetery in 1867 for her family and friends. Hays says when she first toured the cemetery years ago, she found the graves of Hall’s mother and sister marked with a lovely, twelve-foot-tall angel statue. “I found a long, dirty pink silk scarf around the neck of the angel. Thinking it unsightly, I had it removed immediately.” But the change in décor didn’t sit well with someone roaming the grounds. Hays found a new scarf draped around the angel’s neck a month later. “How did this happen?” Hays still wonders. “To get to that neck would require a ladder. We don’t allow driving in the cemetery, and there are families walking their dogs all hours of the day and night.” Chilling, sure. But a cemetery director gets used to the natural—and the supernatural. Sure enough, Hays’ most startling story came at the most inconvenient time: while planning a high-profile funeral. “An event manager had been hired by the family to plan an extravaganza,” she remembers. “He was describing in great detail what he wanted to do as we walked out of the chapel. The afternoon air was totally still, not a breeze to be felt. As we turned the corner, all of the drawings and loose papers flew from his hands into the air. Some were propelled as far as half a block away.” Hays imagines a spirit was none too pleased by the conversation. “Whoever she was, she was obviously not happy about what she was hearing that was being planned in her cemetery!” Hoping to avoid another paranormal protest, the funeral planning was simplified. “The extravaganza was significantly toned down and we had a very dignified service, with no more outbursts.” There are plenty of stories at the Congressional Cemetery and visitors can get their fill at the Halloween party Oct. 29. A skeleton key scavenger hunt and a demonstration of the chapel’s immense organ are on the schedule, along with, uh, spirits and a buffet. Tickets are $75 a person and can be purchased on the cemetery’s website at CongressionalCemetery.org. [gallery ids="100329,108537,108540" nav="thumbs"]
In D.C., it seems that no one can hold just one occupation. Slashes abound in everyone’s job titles, as in: “I’m a CEO/mother/philanthropist,” or “I’m a doctor/writer/foremost WWII expert.” This says something not only about the current job market, in which competition is the name of the game, but about the kind of people who live here. Washingtonians are diverse people with a myriad of interests and even more varied careers. In the District, one career path can carry a person through multiple fields, from one occupation to the next, making continuing education all the more important. Whether or not you decide to obtain you Master’s or Doctorate, the benefits of continuing your education throughout your life are enormous: the qualifications you receive can help to keep you competitive in the job market; you can learn more about an area of interest that you’ve been curious about; you can receive certification in a new field, expanding your career opportunities. The District’s universities offer its residents hundreds of educational opportunities, from certification programs to individual classes open to those with curious minds. In Georgetown’s back yard, Georgetown University is a prime example of all that continuing education programs have to offer. At GU, the School of Continuing Studies offers numerous certificates to supplement the degree or degrees you already might have, including Budget and Finance, Business Administration, Business and Professional English, Corporate Executive Leadership, Digital Media Management, Diversity Strategy, Financial Planning, Forensic Accounting, Franchise Management, Government Executive Leadership, International Business Management, International Migration Studies, Leadership Coaching, Litigation Technology/Legal Project Management, Marketing, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership, Project Management, Social Media for Government, Strategy and Performance Management and Paralegal Studies. Of course, the school also offers full Master of Professional Studies programs, and many of the people who get their Master’s are working and going to school part time, according to Maggie Moore, Communications Officer at the University. However, if attaining your Master’s isn’t part of your game plan, Georgetown provides at least one certificate in the department of each Master’s program called an Advanced Professional Certificate. For instance, you can obtain an Advanced Professional Certificate in Journalism through the Master of Professional Studies in Journalism department; similarly, you can get certificates in either Diversity and Inclusion Management, International Human Resources Management or Strategic Human Capital Management through the Human Resources Management program. Georgetown also has more unconventional learning programs such as Mom Congress, hosted in partnership with Parenting magazine, which gives parents the opportunity to hear from education experts while sharing their own concerns and ideas. Additionally, the university offers a non-degree program to senior citizens in which those ages 65 and up can audit undergraduate level courses. The School of Continuing Studies can be reached at 202-687-8700. Visit scs.georgetown.edu for more information on these and other programs.