A place where kids can run amok

Avast mateys, pirates have landed in La Cañada and they’re here for a five-day stay.

Camp Runamuk is a summer day camp offered by the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge and geared for children ages 5-8. The camp operates Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will continue through the week of Aug. 1.

Each week the camp has a different theme, like “Outer Space Week,” “Rainforest and Reptiles” and “Eco Week,” with activities that reflect that theme. This week, the camp has been transformed into a pirate camp.

On Monday the kids were found participating in the “cannon-ball toss,” in which they used their beach towels to toss balloons into a small swimming pool. By Friday they will be wearing eye patches they made in arts and crafts and will go on a treasure hunt for gold coin candies around the community center.

Last week, about 20 children participated in the recycling relay for Eco Week camp, during which children brought in recyclables from home and then held a race to sort the recyclables into categories of plastic, aluminum and glass.

Co-Camp Directors Kate Penniall and Jose Sanchez emphasized that the key to keeping the kids happy at camp is to be flexible in the day’s activities and structure.

“The energy of the kids is so different from week to week that you need to stay flexible with the activities. Last week’s kids couldn’t sit down and take time for arts and crafts like they’re doing now,” Sanchez said Monday.

“A lot of the other camps around town are structured and expensive and fun, but this camp [Camp Runamuk] gives the kids a chance to run free and be themselves, literally run amok, and the kids are just being kids,” said Melissa Mills, assistant program director at Community Center.

A handful of teen volunteers help Penniall and Sanchez supervise the kids at the camp and Penniall said “none of this would be possible without the volunteers.”

“The other thing I love about this camp is that it gives teens in La Cañada the chance to volunteer and lets them have experience in leadership with kids, adults at the center, and in planning events. Everyone wins. We win, the kids win, the teens win,” said Mills.

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