Summer camps (in the dirt) for kids

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Seattle Tilth offers lots of summer options for kids to keep minds sharp and hands dirty.

SEATTLE — Finding things for the kids to do during summer vacation is a challenge for every parent, But a Seattle nonprofit is keeping kids busy by hitting the garden.

“I like pulling out the fresh vegetables,” Diego, 6, said.

He’s one of many kids at the South Shore school garden in Seattle that will be getting their hands — and knees — dirty this summer in one of Seattle Tilth’s many summer youth programs.

His dad, Sheldon, said there are plenty of good lessons to be had among the crops, pests and weeds.

“I think that’s a good thing. I highly recommend it if there’s a gardening program, it really gives something that translates from school to your home.”

“The organic garden is a learning laboratory,” Katie Pencke said, one of Tilth’s program managers. “It’s a great way to practice arts, reading, science, math — all those academic concepts. It’s a great outdoor classroom.”

Pencke said there’s still room in many of their farm tours, day-long classes and week-long camps. Some classes cost as little as $25 and as a non-profit, they are able to offer scholarships, since subsidies they receive from grants they can also offer sliding scales to help everyone who wants to take part.

“It is a great time to keep kids engaged in experiential science-based learning, but especially for them to be doing that outdoors.”

But be warned that after spending some time with the Tilth folks, many campers return home with lots of questions about healthy eating — every day and every meal.

“One thing I have noticed,” Sheldon said of his son, “he asks us ‘Is what we’re eating healthy?’ or ‘Are we eating Cheetos or kale chips?’ — that sort of thing.”

The location in southeast Seattle is one of five across King County that offers all-day and all-week summer camps for kids. For more information, visit their website.

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