Many New York City public school students spend their midwinter and spring vacations vegging out in front of the television.
But not those who attend "holiday camps" run by the Police Athletic League.
When public school lets out for a week every February and April, kids ages 6 to 13 flock to PAL centers across all five boroughs to fill their days with sports, art, board games, dance and theater. For example, at one camp they acted out Shel Silverstein poems.
"A lot of their parents work, so without these camps it becomes very difficult to find supervision for them," said Susan Han, PAL's director of education.
Meanwhile, the kids "learn some things and stay active and be with their friends," Han added.
The camps have been going on for more than a decade. Though they are free for most participants thanks to funding from the city's Department of Youth and Community Development, others pay up to $25 per day. This February vacation, the PAL ran 16 holiday camps for 700 children.
Tournament of Champions
The various camps intermingled this past February for a "Tournament of Champions," which pitted kids against each other in checkers, spelling, basketball, math, Ping-Pong, sit-ups and other competitions.
Kids also built boats out of lightweight materials such as foil and paper in order to see which boat would float with the most marbles onboard. Han said the winner held 420 marbles.
Another "Tournament of Champions," along with a dance competition, will be held as part of the next camp week in April.