Those not lucky enough to escape south this March Break can still find plenty of constructive things to do in the capital while school’s out this week.
Dan Chenier, a division manager with the City of Ottawa’s Parks and Recreation department, said children and teenagers have filled more than 2,500 spots with the city’s March Break programs, which range from day camp activities — arts and crafts, swimming and sports — to more specialized activities, like drama and basketball camps run by specialists.
"It’s about 80-per-cent full, which is pretty good," said Chenier.
Although registration is on par with other years, the city is putting more emphasis on physical activities so that parents can claim the program for their fitness tax credits, Chenier said.
The city has also expanded its public swimming and skating programs for kids this week, but had to reduce regular daytime programs to do it.
For ambitious teenagers, the city offers condensed certification programs for Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross and the National Lifeguard Program, babysitting and first-aid course, in preparation for finding summer jobs.
"They know they need up-to-date certification, and this way, you get it all done at once as opposed to every Saturday morning for what seems like an eternity," he said.
The Ottawa Public Library also offers March Break programming at most of its 30-plus branches.
"People are looking for things to do and most of these events are free or have a small charge," said Jane Venus, manager of children and teen services for the library. "It’s important to be accessible," she said.
The National Gallery of Canada also has several events running for March Break, including the Joe Fafard exhibit that "has been a big attraction for kids and their parents," said NGC spokeswoman Britanie Mallet.