When the KROC Center opened its doors in 2009, planners and analysts thought it would take some time for membership to peak and at most that would be about 5,000 people. “We drop off a little bit in the summer time, but throughout the year we have typically between 15,000 and 17,000 active members,” said Development Director Christy Markham. From an initial 85 employees, the center now employs around 250 full-time and part-time staff. While greatly exceeding initial estimates on how involved the community would become with the KROC center has created some challenges, it has also allowed the center to create a multitude of programs for children, adults and families, and there is literally something going on at the center every single day.
With school out for the summer, it can be a challenge for working parents to find not only people to help watch their children but to keep them stimulated and still learning during the long summer days. “We are uniquely equipped to provide a wide range of activities here at the KROC, and we make sure kids are having fun while also learning something,” said Markham. This summer, the KROC Center is offering nine weeks of camps starting on June 19, and there is a theme out there for just about every interest. The ever-popular Pee Wee camps for ages 4 and 5 are already sold out, but there are spaces available for children ages 5 to 13. Kids ages 6 to 10 can take part in Discovery Camp. These weekly day camps run from 8:30am to 3:30pm and can also be extended a little longer for parents who can’t get off work that early. Kids tackle a variety of experiences at the KROC including swimming, rock climbing, arts and crafts, cooking, science experiments, games and more. Themes for these weeks include Christmas in July, Super Hero Week, and Science and Technology, just to name a few. These camps are also available on a single-day basis on both Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. During camp, kids are also transported off site to explore some of the cool natural places in and around Coeur d’Alene.
Kids ages 11 to 13 can look into adventure camps which include overnight stays and more advanced learning around the theme of each camp. Technology camps are beginning to gain in popularity, not just here, but around the country as well, and the KROC is well aware of this. “We’ve recently purchased a 3D printer and basic robotics equipment and can do all sorts of new science experiments with the kids,” said Markham. While spending time at the center, older campers also get the opportunity to play laser tag at Strike Zone, spend a week on our local lakes and rivers, and camp out at Farragut State Park, Round Lake or Priest Lake, depending on the week. Campers are not placed in cozy cabins with all the comforts of home either. “Overnight trips are done in tents and without technology so kids can really experience the surroundings. We keep them plenty busy during this time as well,” said Markham.
Another very popular camp is Film Production Camp. Each year, a group of 12 to 14 campers come up with an idea for a movie and go through the entire process of putting it together. The group writes a script, directs, produces, films and edits their production, and the campers are the stars of the movie as well. Depending on what their creative minds come up with, KROC counselors shuttle the group to different movie locations, whether that be a school classroom, building rooftop or in the wilderness at a local park. The cool part of the program is kids can experience all facets. If they don’t want to act but love using the camera or editing equipment, that is OK because someone else might want to focus more on writing and another on acting. At the end of camp, the group is able to show off their hard work, and people are always pretty amazed what these young minds can come up with.
While a summer camp might seem like a safe place for kids to burn off some steam when they’re out of school, it’s definitely more than just a babysitter. “This place was built to give every kid an opportunity to find something they are good at,” explained Markham. “We have things and opportunities our schools don’t, and there are several entry points for kids to explore on a wide variety of activities.”
There are also a number of campers who are coming from a difficult time in their life, and camp is a way to meet and bond with new friends, and also help them get through some tough times. “We had a young girl come through here who had just recently lost her father, and her mom worked full time to support the family. We ended up working with the family to keep her in camp all summer so she wasn’t alone and helped her work through her loss,” said Markham. A list of available camps can be found on KROCCdA.com , and space is on a first-come first-served basis.
It’s not just kids who are having all the fun this summer; there are plenty of unique opportunities for adults, too! Summer is beautiful around here, and the adult summer programs bring people outside to enjoy it. Those new to climbing might start on the indoor wall but will eventually be taken outside to scale some of the local rock faces. There are KROC-sponsored canoe trips and guided day hikes that cover up to 7 miles roundtrip. “We want to show people all the really cool places around here that are just a short drive from home.”
On June 22, you will again have a chance to meet professional Ironmen as Linsey Corbin and Tim Reed will be stopping by the KROC to give a presentation, share stories and give out some training tips. The Q&A session is always fascinating, and athletes are pretty open to answering questions ranging from their diet, what drives them and anything else you can think up.
The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre will once again use the KROC Center as its stage for performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in June, South Pacific in July and Million Dollar Quartet in August. Shows always sell out, so be sure to get your tickets early.
Whether young or young at heart, there is something available at the KROC Center this summer that is sure to peak your interest. Special events and concerts are popping up all the time as the center continues to shape into one of the more influential points in our community. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy much of what the KROC Center has to offer, but there are at least 15,000 of your friends and neighbors who realize the benefits to belonging.