Summer kids programs thrive in tight economy

FRESNO, Calif. — Not everyone is hurting these days from the prolonged recession.

The Fresno Chaffee Zoo’s kids camp, Fresno State’s academic summer programs for young students and inexpensive getaways close to home — like shuttles to the Sierras — all are attracting more people this summer than usual.

Organizers and participants point to the economy as one reason why some parents are turning to affordable local programs and camps to keep their children entertained this summer.

Fresno grandmother Susan Medina said she’s found that day camps are a cheap alternative to joining a country club, for example, for expensive swimming lessons.

She’s enrolled her 7-year-old granddaughter and 10-year-old grandson into two weeks’ worth of science camps at the California State University, Fresno, Continuing & Global Education program.

“You get a lot of value for your money and the kids are really enjoying it,” Medina said.

Berta Gonzalez, associate vice president for the program, said she anticipates having 500 to 600 students attend the camps this summer. Last year, there were about 400, she said.

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