Kids, get your bikes and helmets ready, there’s a new summer camp in town.
Lucky for local parents, they won't have to go far to get their kids to camp. Starting daily in Fox Point, the drop-off and pick-up for Bike Kids Wiscondin is at the Fox Point Wheel & Sprocket, 6940 Santa Monica Boulevard.
Driven by her new-found love of biking, Erin Clapper and a few friends decided to create Bike Kids Wisconsin, a series of week-long summer camps for different ages and abilities that explore the Milwaukee area, earlier this year with two goals in mind.
First, is to have fun. And second, is to educate.
“Despite the large number of bikers in the Milwaukee area, there is still a great need to teach youth proper biking education techniques and practices to keep them safe on the roads whether they are biking to school or with friends,” Clapper said.
Save for the week of July 4, the camps will run throughout the summer from June 27 – August 22. Middle school-aged kids will have the weeks of June 27 – July 1 and the subsequent weeks of July 11 – August 19; high schoolers can participate August 1 – 5 and special education students and those with special needs can take part August 22 – 26.
"I specifically chose Fox Point due to its central location," says Clapper. "It has an ideal distance from the lakefront for kids to get in a good bike ride. Also, we will ride on Santa Monica Boulevard to reach the beautiful Oak Leaf trail which is very familiar to bikers."
Jesse Kuester, general manager at the Fox Point Wheel & Sprocket, is excited for kids taking part in the program as they'll have fun while learning important bike safety tips at the same time.
"First of all, it's good to get kids out on their bikes and active," he says. "Kids will be outside on their bikes all day long in summer, so the better educated they are about safety is great."
In addition to tooling around Milwaukee on their bikes – with a car that follows for safety reasons – kids will also make various stops at different places and participate in a number of activities, such as outdoor rock-climbing, a visit to Discovery World Museum and even some kayaking and canoeing on the Milwaukee River.
“The kids will definitely get their daily requirement of activity at our camp!” says Clapper, who got heavily into biking a couple of years ago after a knee injury that also spurred her to return to school to become a physical therapist.
In all, the kids will travel about 15 miles per day and the camp’s $300 cost includes entrance to the daily activity, lunch, snacks, vehicle support and water. Discounts for multiple bikers are also available. Bike Kids Wisconsin also has a few bicycles to loan out to those without them or they can rent one from Wheel & Sprocket.
"Learning about the road rules, how to ride with a group and thinking of yourself as a vehicle" Kuester said are some of the important lessons these kids will learn.
Clapper says that parents also appreciate the camp because the kids learn so much about themselves and their bikes.
“(Parents will) enjoy the fact that their children will be active all day long, not just biking, but learning, making new friends, gaining independence (by) learning how to make simple bike repairs,” she said. “We will set the bar high for kids throughout the camp but know they can reach it with the support of our instructors guiding them throughout the week.”
Although this is her first year with the camp, Clapper has high hopes for the future.
“I would love to expand our camp offerings into the future,” she says. “We have such an amazing trail system in the state of Wisconsin, I would love to help kids foster their love for adventure and offer overnight camping camps. I would like to provide way for kids to unplug and get in touch with nature and athleticism."
"I’ve had such positive experiences with the summer camps as a child, and I want to make sure everyone is given an opportunity to do the same. Camps teach initiative, responsibility, help mold positive morals and I want to be a part of that mission.”
For more information about the camp, visit the Bike Kids Wisconsin site at www.bikekidswi.com. And, as a special offer for the readers of the Fox Point-Bayside Patch site, the group is offering a $25 discount – simply enter the keyword “Patch” when prompted to do so through the Google checkout section when registering online.