Community Center allows kids to Runamuk

Summer is the time of year when kids can release all their pent-up energy after having been behind a desk for nine months.

The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge has many camps, including Camp Runamuk, to help let the energy out.

"Runamuk is a big theme here," said India Dastic, a camp director. "It's about just going crazy. We play a lot of games, and it's pretty free and flexible every day to what the kids want to do."

The directors and volunteer counselors are there to maintain order, but the campers rule the day, which starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m..

"I really like [Camp Runamuk] a lot," 6-year-old camper Zachary Driscoll said. "There is a lot to do here, and you can do whatever you want. They don't make you play just one thing; you can do everything."

Camp Runamuk and is divided into six weeks, each with a different theme; games and crafts are arranged within the week's topic.

The final session of the summer was "Pirate Week." Kids made their own pirate hats, went on a treasure hunt, spent part of the day swimming and did everything in between.

Other themes this summer included a bug, sports, reptile and "Wet N' Wild" week.

"Every week we have different kids, but a lot of kids come back for multiple weeks," said Jose Sanchez, another camp director.

Eli Paton, an 8-year-old camper, has attended three of the six weeks so far this summer.

"My favorite week was when we got to play all the sports games," Paton said.

The maximum number of kids allowed at one time is 25. The camp has a 4-to-1 kid-to-counselor ratio, with two camp directors and four or five volunteer counselors.

"Our volunteers are great," Dastic said. "None of this would be possible without them."

The kids aren't the only ones who get something out of the camp. Both Dastic and Sanchez hope to enter the teaching field next year; controlling a classroom will be simple after indulging the wild side of 25 youngsters.

"We both want to be high school math teachers, so interacting with the kids helps us gain valuable experience," Sanchez said.

Kids between 5 and 8 years old are welcome at Camp Runamuk.

"Camp Runamuk is all about having a good time," said Kate Pennial, project director for the center. "Many kids make new friends there. Even with the age gap, everyone still comes to play together. They really do make lasting friendships out of it."

For more information on Camp Runamuk or any of the offerings of the Community Center, visit its website at or call (818) 790-4353.

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