For more than 60 years, the staff at YMCA Camp Roger has been developing programs that get kids and teens off the couch and in the great outdoors. In doing so, its aim is to help the kids develop social skills that can foster confidence, independence, and leadership. In addition to traditional sleepover camps—where 6–10 kids stay in cabins at night and practice mountain biking, archery, hiking, and arts and crafts during the day—the camp offers focused programs such as creative arts or horseback riding. And if the clan needs a break from the housecat’s despotic demands, it can attend a family camp over Labor Day weekend.
Stocked with gear for standup paddling and white-water kayaking, the newly remodeled, sunny storefront of The Salt Lake Surf Company also boasts colorful racks of surf, beach, and casual clothing. Skim the oceanic inventory of flip-flops and simple shoes ($28–$70), or backstroke through waves of T-shirts ($30–$50) and swimsuit separates ($40+). Organic-cotton summer dresses bedeck beach bods in splashing colors ($50+), and the four-way-stretch board shorts ensure comfort and protection while hurtling across the surface of water or high-kicking in dolphin chorus lines ($50–$70). While perusing, feel free to consult the friendly onsite husky or the helpful staff of wave-whisperers for advice on standup paddling or white-water kayaking equipment, or to help you to locate items online that are not currently in stock.
To more than 9,000 students, artist Harold Petersen is known simply as “Pete.” In founding the Petersen Art Center in 1994, Pete created a place where creative minds could come together, express themselves, and share their abilities with others. Pete has been teaching for more than 50 years, and he continues to lead students each week in the fine arts of drawing and working with watercolors. In addition to giving pupils the benefits of his own expertise, he has assembled a crack team of sculptors, painters, and visual artists to help students navigate the right sides of their brains.
Darlene Casanova, owner of Imagination Place, believes that music holds the power to strengthen familial and community-based relationships. Drawing from her extensive training and careers in the performing arts, she now strives to nurture family bonds and child development via music and movement classes. Along with a team of certified teachers and music instructors, she leads a harmonious selection of internationally recognized programs open to adults, children, and operatic family dogs. In Music Together, an early-childhood series in which caregivers join their tots in song and movement, children choose from a basket brimming with instruments and Baroque-style wigs to identify their individual musical styles. Teachers spark early creativity with yoga, art, and theater in the Imagination Workshop, and motivate youngsters to explore music theory in Musical Bridge.
When she?s not crooning with kiddies, Darlene teaches AntiGravity fitness. Suspended from an AntiGravity hammock?a soft, pliable fabric used to enhance stretches?she guides pupils through an aerial series of movements that meld techniques from dance, Pilates, calisthenics, and classic yoga.
In addition to her wide range of family classes, Imagination Place hosts music- and art-filled birthday extravaganzas. During the warmer months, an assortment of summer-camp programs fills the studio with creative children eager to escape the stresses of babysitting their parents.
Shafts of sunlight pierce Tracy Aviary?s dense conifer forest, sending great grey owls into hiding until nightfall, when they emerge to hunt silently above the treetops. The Owl Forest is just one of five diverse ecosystems that dot the aviary?s eight acres. Nearby, at the South American Pavilion, aviary keepers tend to keel-billed toucans as their colorful beaks break through the cereal boxes in which they incubate. And on the Kennecott Wetland, visitors can espy long-billed curlews and American coots roosting in the tall grass.
In addition to providing a diverse habitat in which native and endangered species can thrive, Tracy Aviary?s curators strive to educate visitors about threats to avian species and to encourage stewardship. To that end, the aviary frequently hosts bird encounters, small group talks with avian keepers, and even the opportunity to feed various species.
Traditionally, if you wanted to find out the length of a giraffe's tongue, you'd have to hide in a tree with a ready hand and a yardstick. Utah's Hogle Zoo has streamlined the process, however: one of its animal encounters allows guests to feed the long-necked creatures alongside a keeper, who will happily tell you that their purple tongues stretch for 20 inches. The giraffes are just one of more than 800 animals inside the zoo grounds. Spanning 42 acres of verdant hillside property, the exhibits strive to showcase fauna in arenas that mimic their natural habitats.
The polar bear inside Rocky Shores—the zoo's largest exhibit to date—lumbers through a landscape inspired by North America's western coast, with a pool that affords guests underwater views of the bear’s attempts to secure its swim cap. Snow leopards, Siberian lynxes, and amur tigers prowl the Himalayan-inspired scenery of the Asian Highlands. At Elephant Encounter's African Lodge, visitors can touch an elephant skull or a rhino horn before glimpsing the pachyderms in the flesh. Summer shows send eagles and hawks swooping overhead in the Wildlife Theatre. From loping wolves and toothy crocodiles to the sagely gorillas of the Great Apes house, the beasts all benefit from the staff's enrichment efforts, which encourage learning as well as instinctual behaviors.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Utah's Hogle Zoo demonstrates a commitment to wildlife conservation that extends beyond its gates. Many of its special events contribute funds to preservation programs. For example, the Orange Utahn Art show raises donations for endangered primates, selling original works by both local artists and the zoo's orangutans, who compose colorful paintings. Guests can even get a closer look at imperiled species by saddling up on top of one—the Conservation Carousel arrays 42 hand-carved sculptures of at-risk animals, such as the red panda, the giant panda, and the false panda, which is just a black poodle that rolled in some paint.