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A Summer Daze Camp Preview

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mjcca
Courtesy as MJCCA

Sports, s’mores and plenty more await camping kids this summer. Though it may seem a tad early, camp rosters will fill up fast as occupancy may be limited for safety. Don’t miss out on the perfect camp for your child.

Please note that, as well that with current health considerations, changes in camp schedules may occur. So please contact camps directly for the most up-to-date information.

MJCCA Summer Camps 2021

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) Camp Catalog is made up of many interesting offerings for single or multi-week camps, kicking off the first week of June and coming to a close in mid-August. All camps will be held at Zaban Park, except the sleepaway Camp Barney Medintz in the north Georgia mountains.

Fees start at $385 a week, with preferred pricing for members of MJCCA and discounts for attending multiple weeks of camp. Before and after care may or may not be offered, so stay tuned.

The traditional day camp experience offered is Camp Isidore Alterman (CIA) and CIA Jr. CIA Jr. is for Rising Pre-K and CIA welcomes Rising K-6th Grade. Camp fun activities on deck include canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, bumper boats, fishing, swimming and so much more. Children will be organized into small groups of no more than 15 in a cohort model, to avoid too much unnecessary mixing.

Hoping to keep up their game in the off season? Sports at MJCCA is a solution. From improving their backhand in Tennis to getting into the swing of things with Intro to Golf, a sports-minded kid has many options to choose from.

If your kid has a flare for the dramatic instead of a flare for the athletic, have them join the cast of The Little Mermaid Jr. or Shrek the Musical Jr. in a multi-week camp experience, or perhaps twinkle their toes in one of MJCCA many dance camps. There are also an astounding number of theme camps available that explore specialized hobbies, art and professional interests.

Interested but on the fence? Small in-person group tours with MJCCA’s camp directors will be held on select days to give parents and kids alike a chance to see where the summer fun happens, learn about camp and ask questions. Tours are scheduled for March 14, March 21 and April 18. There is a 10:30 a.m. group and a 1:30 p.m. group.

A Virtual New Parent Orientation is to be held May 4, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. This will allow parents yet one more avenue to ask questions and know what to expect this summer.

Get a more complete overview of MJCCA Camp information by visiting mjccadaycamps.org for the full 2021 camp catalog and schedule.

Camp All American

Camp All American is the recreational camp ministry of Perimeter Church, created to serve Johns Creek area kids in an enriching, safe environment. They also have satellite camps at other churches around Atlanta — and even one in Florida.

This week-long summer camp is open June 1 to August 6. Summer registration opens February 7 at 10 p.m. When you sign up for camp, your child is divided into smaller “camp groups” depending on gender, specialty and grade.

Ages served range from 5 years all the way to 11th graders in the CIT program. Day camp and sleepaway camp options are available.

Learn more by attending one of their Discovery Days for an opportunity to meet the staff, tour the campus and ask questions about Camp All-American. Registration for Discovery Day opens February 10. The first tour option is March 21 at 1:30 p.m.; May 1 at 3:30 p.m. is the second. For more information or to register, visit campallamerican.com.

Camp Evergreen

Camp Evergreen is a Christian camp located in the serene mountains of north Georgia near Lake Burton. It has its own manmade self-contained lake (dubbed Lake Dean), that boasts a blob water feature, as well as a zipline and a swimming hole supervised by licensed lifeguards. Other activities on deck include canoeing, campfires, hiking, horseback riding (for an additional fee) and the list goes on.

The camp is wilderness centered and believes nature can speak on its own without extras. Programming intentionally leaves out bells and whistles and focuses on creative, fun approaches to all activities. The staff does their best to make sure every child is comfortable, which is reflected in the wide array of camp options they offer.

Campers can come for a four-day day camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that is integrated into ongoing Overnight Camp sessions, or stay overnight in a 4-day, 7-day, 10-day or 14-day stint depending on age. Cost varies depending on the option selected, so hike to campevergreen.org to get a full view.

Camp Flashback

As a sponsored program of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust (DPT), Camp Flashback transports kids to a simpler time, allowing kids to be kids in the shining sun while learning about the great history of Dunwoody. They’ll enjoy summer fun and learning at Dunwoody’s only authentic history camp — the Donaldson-Bannister Farm — staffed by loving, licensed educators with a low kid-to-staff ratio of 5 to 1. Campers must be age 7 to 12 years.

Kids will spend their days like 1870s farm children, with old-fashioned activities like hand-churning butter and ice-cream, milking and feeding goats, grooming a pony, weaving, sewing and an ever-growing list of things to do.

Registration is open now for five one-week sessions: June 14-18, June 21-25, June 28-July 2, July 12-16 and July 19-23. Pricing starts at $235 per camper per week, with discounts for DPT members. Flash over to dunwoodypreservationtrust.org/camp-flashback/ for additional information.

Club SciKidz Camps

Dust off your beakers and safety googles, because ClubSciKidz has STEAM education fun planned this summer! The Club SciKidz crew will be setting up shop at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church in Dunwoody for four weeks, from June 21 through July 19.

Camp themes offered include Coding Kaleidoscope, Robot Engineer, Young Surgeon, Emergency Veterinary Medicine, Mystical & Magical (Harry Potter), and much, much more.

For more information on camp themes and camp locations, visit clubscikidz.com/camp-locations/#atlanta-science-day-camps.

Dunwoody Nature Center

Learn all about the creatures that make their home in the forest wonderland around Dunwoody Nature Center, with a delightful mix of full and half day camps. The camp schedule kicks off June 1 and continues through August 13.

Explore some exciting camp focuses like Up in the Air, a deep dive into the world of animals that fly, soar and zoom in the sky. Or maybe Creek Week is more your speed, splashing around the locally famous Wildcat Creek and learning about the vitality of its ecosystem. Or what about Ooey Gooey Science, chock full of hands-on experiments to foster a genuine scientific interest? And that’s just the start!

The standard cost for a full five-day camp is $275 for members and $310 for non-members. Campers aged 3.5 to 4 are invited to attend from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Rising K-5 attend for a full day until 3:30 p.m.

Early Bird drop-off begins at 8 a.m., with a $45 charge for five days, and late pickup is offered for K-5 until 6 p.m. with a $70 charge for five days. Register at dunwoodynature.org or call 770-394-3322.

GAC Summer Camps

With more than 30 summer enrichment programs in athletics, arts, academics and fun, Greater Atlanta Christian School (GAC) campers have a daily opportunity to make new friends, explore new talents and experiences in a safe, Christian environment. The incredible group of trained counselors make sure your child will be encouraged and celebrated in all they do.

GAC Summer Camps are slated to commence June 7 and continue through the end of July. Virtual camps will be added, and other camp programs as well, as safety guidelines allow.

Pricing varies depending on the program. Before and after care is available for some camps. Learn more at greateratlantachristian.org/summer-camp/summer-camp.

The High Museum of Art Camps

Dive into art this summer at the High! Young artists will explore the museum’s galleries, create original artworks and showcase their masterpieces in a special exhibition each week. Campers also will learn about the Museum’s collection and special exhibitions while honing their skills in drawing, painting, and design.

Professional teaching artists will inspire your child to look closely, experiment with materials, and try new techniques. Their weeklong camps are designed to serve rising 1st through 8th graders.

The High Museum member price is $350 per week, $450 for non-members. Official camp programming spans from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with aftercare available until 6 p.m. for an added $50 fee. Registration opens February 9. Camps sessions begin June 7 and will continue through July 30.

Pace Academy Summer Programs

A special message from Pace Academy: “At Pace, we believe some of life’s greatest lessons are learned outside the classroom. When school is not in session, we offer programming to keep children — Pace students and students from other schools — active and engaged. We offer full day and half-day summer camps; specialty programs like Athletic Camps, Danger Camp and Theatre Workshops; STEM Camps and Clinics; and Academic Enrichment Opportunities.”

We offer the opportunity for your camper to be registered in two separate half day programs to create a full day camp experience for your camper. Your camper will need to pack their lunch, but we will supervise your camper at lunch so they can stay on campus for all day fun!”

Registration is open for all camps. For information and pricing, visit paceacademy.org/programs/summer-programs.

Primrose School of Peachtree Corners Summer Adventure Club

At Primrose School’s Summer Adventure Club, children become engineers, artists, explorers and more as they discover the joys of design thinking, a fun and innovative way to learn.

Camps are available for children in grades K-5. Stay tuned for dates and times at primroseschools.com, and be sure to choose the Peachtree Corners location.

Kelsey Asher is a proud graduate of the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Communications. She has held a variety of marketing leadership roles for several small, startup companies in a variety of industries including publishing, construction and technology.

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Twin Authors Chronicle Antics of ‘Four-Legged Brother’

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On Feb. 1, the young authors Megan and Mackenzie Grant released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”
Megan and Mackenzie Grant

Berkeley Lake second graders make fans across the globe with sweet children’s story.

When rescue dog Apollo found his forever home with Megan and Mackenzie Grant, the Berkeley Lake twins knew they had added a special member to the family. He’s so beloved that he’s considered their “four-legged brother.”

Apollo is a Boston terrier. The breed is known for its friendliness and love of people and children. According to the Purina Company, makers of all kinds of pet food, Boston terriers  make affectionate pets and are outgoing and social. 

While they are called ‘terriers,’ they are not in the terrier group, nor do they behave like them. They are far happier at home with their owner than getting into the usual mischief. 

But Megan and Mackenzie see him as a silly addition to the family.

“He’s super cool because he’s always up for fun and loves us a whole bunch. And guess what? We love him back even more! He’s like the best friend ever, wagging his tail and making everything awesome!” they said in a press release.

Apollo’s birthday inspiration

As his first birthday approached, the girls, six years old at the time, wanted his day to be special.

“I said, ‘Well if you want to come up with something to do, let’s write it out,’” said mom Tameka Womack.  “So they started writing out all these different adventures, and it was so cute.”

Megan recalled that their teacher had told them about someone who had published a book, and she asked if they could, too.

“When I read through it, they had all the different things, like playing dress up because we had bought some clothes for him. And we take them out for long walks around the lake and stuff,”  Womack added.

Although their favorite subjects in school are PE and art, they did such a good job with the tale that Tameka worked with them to get it published. On Feb. 1, the young authors released the children’s book, “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother.”

Publishing success

The 30-page book took off almost immediately. Available for print and digital through Amazon and print editions through Barnes & Noble, the book has reached customers in the U.K., Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy,  Poland and throughout the U.S.

The girls and their mom were so pleased and surprised to find out the book was No. 1 in its category on Amazon.

“They were just so excited that people actually bought the book,” said Womack. “They were just like, ‘Wow, who is buying this?’”

Feedback from fellow twins, animal lovers and teachers showed that the story resonated on many levels.

“As an educator, I am always on the lookout for diverse and inclusive literature for my students. ‘How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother’ not only captivated the imaginations of the children in my class but also served as a wonderful conversation starter about friendship, empathy and the beauty of diversity,” wrote Ashleigh Darby.

The royalties from book sales are tucked away, with a percentage going to Apollo’s wardrobe.

“He won’t go out in the rain without his raincoat … or out in the winter without his sweater,” said Womack. “We have a little budget for his clothes because every time the girls see something, they’re like, ‘Oh, I think Apollo will like it.’  I’m like, I think he would too, but let’s let it stay in the store.”

Nurturing creativity

Although both mom and dad are engineers and kind of hoped that the twins would follow in their footsteps, Womack said she’s okay with them being artistic and creative.

“Writing is teaching them some responsibility and teaching them a little bit about money,” she said. “Now they want to write a book every day.”

Between raising three daughters (the twins have an older teenage sister), running a household with her husband and keeping up with her career at Georgia Tech, Womack said she’ll look for time to continue helping the girls with their dreams.

“With summer coming up, I would definitely encourage parents to help their children explore their creativity in any kind of way, from digging holes in the ground to … seeing the world … to creating books instead of being on the internet,” said Womack. I try to limit my kids’ screen time … and build real memories.”

Find “How We Love Our Four-Legged Brother” on Amazon.

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Local State Reps Give Roundup of Legislative Session

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(left to right) Dale Russell, Rep. Ruwa Romman and Rep. Scott Hilton // Photos by George Hunter

Hilton, Romman trade friendly banter that reflects diverse views in Georgia government

Georgia State House District 97 Representative Ruwa Romman and District 48 Representative Scott Hilton, whose constituents include parts of Southwest Gwinnett County, including Peachtree Corners, sat down for a second time to share information about legislative action at the State Capital

Their discussion was part of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce First Friday Breakfast series at Atlanta Hilton Northeast.

Although they sit on opposite sides of the aisle, Hilton and Romman both seek to sponsor and pass legislation that improves and maintains a high quality of life in the Peach State and provides its residents with what they need. 

Elected in 2022, this was Romman’s sophomore year in the State House. She serves on the Georgia House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, Georgia House Information and Audits Committee and Georgia House Interstate Cooperation Committee. 

Hilton previously served in the State House from 2017 to 2019 but took a “sabbatical,” as he calls it, to serve as executive director for the Georgians First Commission under the Office of Governor Brian Kemp

He was re-elected to his current position in 2022. He is the vice chair of the Georgia House Creative Arts and Entertainment Committee and the Georgia House Education Committee, as well as a member of the Georgia House Public Health Committee and the Committee on Georgia House Urban Affairs.

Senate Bill 63

The moderator, Norcross resident and former WAGA political reporter Dale Russell started off with a topic making headlines: Senate Bill 63. This law, signed by Gov. Kemp shortly after the session ended, prohibits charities, individuals or groups from providing bail funds for more than three people per year unless they register as bonding agencies. It also expands mandatory cash bail to 30 new offenses.

“I think it’s going to bring home safety to the community,” said Hilton. “I ran on that issue because as I was knocking on doors, I’ve heard from folks who [want to] keep our community safe. And unfortunately, no community has been immune from the uptick in crime that we had seen post-COVID, so this was one of those bills in response to that.”

Hilton gave examples of crimes where individuals out on bail committed acts such as murder.

“That was our commitment back to our constituents to say, ‘Listen, we’re not going to let bad guys back out onto the streets again to do more crime.’ This bill was in response to this; it’s going to keep our community safe, hold those accountable and bring justice to those who break the law,” Hilton remarked. 

“Unfortunately, right now, we’ve got district attorneys and sheriffs across Georgia who are blatantly disregarding the law and letting folks back out on the streets who pose, you know, safety risks to law-abiding citizens like you and I and your businesses,” he continued.

Russel pointed out that there’s been a lot of criticism of this law. 

“The ACLU was totally against it. Some felt like it was imprisoning poor people in the sense, for minor crimes,” he said.

“I do agree with the criticism for a few reasons,” said Romman. 

“The problem with this bill is that of the 30 crimes that are listed as now requiring a cash bail, the majority of them don’t actually require jail time, even if you’re found guilty of them. So now, somebody who would not even have ever served time for those crimes that are listed could now serve jail time because they cannot afford their bail,” she explained.

She added that the law doesn’t address the crimes it’s supposed to protect citizens from.

“We see these headlines, but this bill doesn’t address those because what we see happening is that a lot of churches now will no longer be able to bail people out that cannot afford their bail because of this bill,” she said.

“And churches that have been trying to, for example, reunite a parent with their children for Christmas, or whatever the case may be, can no longer do that. There is actually an exception written into this bill for bail bondsmen. So, it’s not like being able to pay cash bail is completely out of the question. It just means that somebody can make money off of it now,” Romman continued.

Hilton said the state isn’t done with addressing public safety issues as they come up.

“I know that’s been a priority of the governor, and I think rightfully so; you know, there’s a reason we’ve got citizens flocking to Georgia over the last ten years; we’ve added a million Georgians to our state, and they are leaving states with policies that don’t have this. They’re coming to Georgia for economic prosperity, for safety and for good schools,” said Hilton.

House Bill 1105

Another controversial bill, HB 1105, is framed as a public safety bill that requires local enforcement to coordinate with federal immigration officials when someone in custody is suspected of being in the country illegally. 

Some say it’s an immigration bill.

“I know that the federal administration is trying to tell us there’s not a crisis. But there is a humanitarian crisis going on right now on our southern border.  … But they’re not handling it the right way, and it’s starting to impact our communities,” said Hilton.

“We’ve got sheriffs who have folks in their custody, who [need] to be reported up to ICE. And essentially, they’re sort of ignoring what’s in the law right now that says you got to report these folks,” he explained.

Romman doesn’t see it that way.

“Again, when you read the contents of the bill, that is, unfortunately, not what it does,” she said. “I’m one of the few, if not the only, member of the legislature that’s done any border project work,” she remarked.

She talked about her work keeping unaccompanied immigrant minors safe.

“I want to remind people that when we talk about immigration, there’s an entire spectrum of people that we are talking about. And it’s not just at the border, it’s also people that fly into our country legally, that gets narrowed into a terrible immigration system,” Romman said.

“It forces our state and county and city police to do federal-level work without more funding. What we’re doing is we’re actually adding an increased burden, essentially onto their workload that we are not paying for. And in addition, within this bill, if they do not do this, they could lose more funding.”

She added that this will take the police away from focusing on local issues and trying to work with people who live in their communities.

“If a community member feels like if they reach out to police for help, and the police are going to deport them, they are less likely to report crimes and less likely to work with our local police department,” Romman said. “If we’re serious about immigration and its relationship to crime, immigrants are 30% less likely to commit crimes, and I don’t want to vilify an entire group of people.”

Romman said she supports a holistic, three-pronged approach that includes improving conditions on the border and pathways to citizenship.

Business-related legislation

When the smoke cleared, both Hilton and Romman joked that they had different opinions about many issues but agreed that’s a healthy part of how the government works. 

“The fact that we do disagree and the fact that you, the community, have varying choices and options out there. I think it’s a healthy part of the process,” said Hilton. “And we do have fun. I was telling somebody we play kickball about halfway through the session, and we do get along.”

The discussion moved on to topics such as the FTC ruling on non-compete clauses and tort reform, which just about everyone in the room agreed upon. Although employees could see the beauty of disallowing non-compete clauses, as business owners, they’d hate to see trade secrets put in jeopardy or valuable time and money put into training to benefit another company. 

And everyone wanted to see caps on personal injury claims for things like slip-and-falls and fleet vehicle accidents.

“One of the few regrets I have coming out of session is that we didn’t do more on tort reform,” said Hilton. “Right now, Georgia is the number one judicial hellhole in the nation, meaning that we have more lawsuits on businesses and payouts than anywhere else in the country.”

This was one area where both representatives had similar views.

“I don’t think this is a left or right issue,” said Romman. “I want to make sure that whatever tort reform we pursue does not let, for example, a bad-acting company off the hook. But on the flip side, if somebody is just going around and suing everybody all the time to try and make some money off of it, how do you protect corporations and businesses from those kinds of bad incidents litigation?”

“What I will continue to look for when it comes to tort reform is, how are we going about balancing that?” she added.

Looking ahead

As the session wrapped, Romman and Hilton pointed out legislation they’d like to see move forward next year.

“House Bill 971 creates a $300 tax credit for taxpayers who sign up for firearm safety training or purchase a safe storage device. It’s a bipartisan measure, viewed by some as a small but perhaps significant move for gun safety advocates, which was tabled in the Senate room,” said Romman. 

She said the bill wouldn’t even require someone to disclose that they owned a firearm, but it was meant to incentivize people to store their firearms properly.

“There wasn’t a lot of appetite if somebody didn’t properly store their gun to have consequences for that, so we thought it would just incentivize better behavior,” she said.

Hilton mentioned school safety. 

“Over the last three years, every single school in Georgia has gotten a one-time $100,000 grant for School Safety. That’s every school in Georgia; in this most recent budget, we included $45,000 in recurring money for every school in the state to do whatever they want to ensure their campuses are safe,” he said. This includes private schools as well.

At the end of the event, Hilton and Romman reminded the audience that they weren’t running against each other, and even though their views were different, their goals for a better Georgia were equally as passionate.

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City of Peachtree Corners Unveils Space-Inspired Tot Lot Playground

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Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration. 
Photos by Dorie Liu

On Friday, May 10, 2024, the City of Peachtree Corners held a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony of its new space-themed Tot Lot Playground on Town Green.

Last November, the city began constructing a new tot lot playground for children under six years old that is themed around space exploration.  This new play area includes a rocket ship, a moon rover, a crashed UFO and other fun designs. It was also created to be fully accessible, ensuring all children can enjoy it.

During the ribbon-cutting, children and their guardians enjoyed fun activities, including an ice cream truck, bubble lady, balloon animals, face painting and even a visit from Buzz Lightyear.

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