By Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director
When I hear people talk about summers with their kids it always sounds so idyllic to me: long days spent lounging on the beach; trips to local attractions; camping with family and friends. If I were to take people’s Facebook feeds at face value, pun intended, I’d think there was something seriously wrong with my summer parenting skills.
I’m a working parent, and so is my husband. My daughter has been in a year-round daycare, so she hasn’t experienced “summer break” yet. We’ve gotten used to squeezing summer fun into the afternoons and weekends. But that’s all going to change soon with the start of kindergarten in her local school this Fall. I’m about to become one of the parents that will have to plan way in advance on how to schedule work around camps, squander vacation days to spend a few precious long weekends on a lake somewhere, and probably start to butter up the grandparents for when plans inevitably fall through.
I’m not really complaining. I know how lucky we are. I’m a little jealous of my daughter getting to experience summer break, where the days seemed like endless adventures. I wish I could spend every minute with her out in the sun, gardening, swimming and blowing bubbles. But we all do the best we can. And my best is being there with her in the moments we have together, and making sure she’s surrounded by love and engaging her brain and her creative muscles when I’m not there.
New Hampshire is teeming with opportunities for kids to grow and learn in the summer. All the great cultural institutions like the Currier Museum of Art, the Seacoast Science Center, the SEE Science Center, Audubon centers and yes, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire have fantastic camps, programs, events and workshops for kids of all ages. And many bend over backwards to help parents make their children’s summers memorable and affordable. These non-profits are here to be a resource to you, and I hope you use them this summer and many summers to come. I know I will.
Parents interested in the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s summer camps can choose from 3-day Mini Camps for ages 4-6 (which are all full as of today) or 5-day Discovery Camps for ages 7-11.
The Dover Adventure Playground just opened a few weeks ago and we hope you'll check it out! We have a few tips for families who plan on visiting.
Tip 1: For early risers, enjoy a visit to the playground before the Museum opens at 10am. It’s a great way to get outside before the heat of a summer day and will help you appreciate the cool air-conditioned Museum even more!
Tip 2: Make sure to bring towels, a change of clothes and sunscreen to the playground. Water and sand elements are sure to be a big hit for all ages (even you adults!) Museum members and visitors always have access to our bathrooms for changing during our normal business hours!
Tip 3: Bring your own refillable water bottles to the playground to stay hydrated. There’s not only a water fountain in the playground, but also a water bottle filler in the center of the park!
Tip 4: Plan to make a day of it! Your Museum admission is good all day, so you can visit the Museum, take a break for lunch and enjoy the playground, and come back inside the Museum to cool off and continue exploring our exhibits at the end of the day. The park is also home to the Cocheco Arts Festival. For a complete list of free concerts and events visit: https://cochechoartsfestival.org/
Tip 5: Speaking of lunch breaks, Henry Law Park and the Dover Adventure Playground house picnic tables and downtown Dover is home to many family-friendly restaurants. So pack a picnic lunch or ask to see our binder of restaurant menus at the Museum’s front desk. We even sell pre-packaged ice cream treats in the lobby!
A new family attraction several years in the making is opening in downtown just in time for summer fun. The Dover Adventure Playground at Henry Law Park will open to the public on Saturday, June 24 at 9:30 a.m.
The playground will feature a life-size flat-bottomed vintage gundalow; a net climber; swings and slides; a three-story Garrison Hill tower; a 1,200-pound, 3-foot by 8-foot climbable Alewife granite fish sculpture; a splash pad and water pumps; sand play area; musical instruments and more.
“The Children’s Museum of NH has been thrilled to partner with the city of Dover, its citizens and businesses to create the new Dover Adventure Playground,” said Jane Bard, Museum President. “It is sure to become a destination for seacoast families and visitors looking for outdoor play and exploration in a setting that is uniquely Dover.”
Dover Recreation Director Gary Bannon agrees. “The new playground is the result of years of planning and enthusiastic collaboration,” said Bannon. “This playground promises to be a significant attraction to downtown.”
After the playground opens, visitors to Dover will have one more reason to spend the whole day in the city, visiting the Children’s Museum, playing in the playground, having a picnic, shopping with downtown merchants or eating at a local restaurant.
“This playground is really unique to Dover and I don’t think there will be anything quite like it in New Hampshire,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “The history of the area is highlighted throughout the design.” The gundalow, a 32-year-old replica of the Capt. Edward H. Adams, is one of only two gundalows in the region.
Thoughtful touches abound in the new playground. The three-story tower was picked specifically to mimic the Garrison Hill fire tower in Dover. The climbable fish sculpture by Thomas Berger from Kittery is a nod to the alewife who spawn in the Cocheco River, bordering the playground. One of the swings is made for an older child and an infant to swing together, a highlight for parents with multiple children. The net climbing structure has a slack line and percussion instruments are installed nearby. Tree stumps provide balancing practice for children or additional seating. The splash pad will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. this spring and summer. Nearby is another play area featuring hand pumps and wooden sluices.
Two features in the works will debut after the June 24th opening. The Museum’s community teaching garden currently located on the riverfront adjacent to the Museum will relocate to the park for the next growing season. Also planned for the roof of the Dover pool bordering the playground, is an 18-foot metal “Whale’s Tail” sculpture created by artist Dale Rogers. The whale will appear to be diving into the pool building.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is holding a naming contest for the alewife fish sculpture, who is a female, throughout the month of July. The public can vote on the fish’s new moniker either by casting a ballot inside the museum, or on the museum’s facebook page. The public will then vote to narrow down the names to the 10 most popular. A judging panel will then choose the winner.
“Even though it’s a playground, it’s really designed to be enjoyed by people of all ages,” said Jane Bard. “I think I’m most excited that we’re bringing this right to the center of Dover and I really think it’s going to be a shining example of what Dover has been, and will be. It will be a safe, engaging, and joyful gathering spot for people of all ages.”
To learn more about the Dover Adventure Park, visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire’s website: www.childrens-museum.org/visit/dover-adventure-playground or contact Dover Recreation at 603-516-6401.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire participated in the 2nd annual NH Gives program, an initiative of the NH Center of Nonprofits, and within 24-hours raised a total of $1890, exceeding their goal for the day.
NH Gives is designed to bring the state together as one community, raising as much money and awareness as possible for New Hampshire’s nonprofits within a 24-hour flood of donations. The museum’s goal for the day was to raise $1,000.
“With the support of 25 generous donors, we managed to smash that goal!” said Paula Rais, CMNH’s Vice President of Development and Community Engagement.
The day started at 6pm on June 6th with many non-profits vying for cash prizes handed out by NH Gives for honors such as “Most Raised 6pm to 9pm” or “Most Donors.” “We’re really proud of how we did in comparison to other non-profits,” shared Neva Cole, CMNH’s Communications Director. The museum came in 23rd in terms of number of donors, tying with Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and Polaris Charter School. “The Center for Non-profits makes the day very easy to promote, and they even manage to keep this amazing community of non-profits competing in a friendly way!”
What does this money go to support? “We want everyone to be able to learn and grow with us,” said Cole. “We’ve had generations of children visit our exhibits, and many have returned with their own children. The donations we receive through NH Gives go to support the families who might struggle to pay our admission fees. Over 30% of our families are only able to visit because of our ‘Museum Access for All’ programs.” A few examples of that program include subsidized bus visits for Title 1 Schools, families paying only $1 per person when they present an EBT Card, and even free programs for families with children on the autism spectrum.
“This museum is not just a space for kids to come on a rainy day,” said Jane Bard, President of the museum. “It’s a community of educators, parents, children, artists, sponsors and donors who believe in the power of play. We are so thrilled and thankful to have this community support to further our mission of inspiring all to be the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers.”
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is offering a wide range of summer camps. One of the newer camps, Eco-Explorers, will be taught by the museum’s newest educator, Colie Haahr.
Eco-Explorers is a 5-day camp scheduled for Monday, August 14 through Friday, August 18, 9:15am-1pm, for children ages 7-11. The camp will give kids an opportunity to learn about the wonders of the natural world. “Kids will be introduced to animal communication and adaptations, as well as local plants, animals, and ecosystems through nature exploration, games, and art projects,” shared Haahr, CMNH’s STEAM & School-Aged Programs Coordinator.
Colie has joined the museum recently and is excited to spend her first summer at CMNH. She joins the education team after teaching for Nature’s Classroom, an outdoor education company with different sites all over New England, and traveling the world while leading YMCA leadership trips. She has her BA in English and Secondary Education from Alfred University and recently completed her Masters degree in Recreation Management and Policy at UNH. Through her teaching experiences she has gained a genuine love and respect for the environment.
“Some of my favorite topics will be incorporated into this Eco-Explorers Camp, and I’m really excited to share my knowledge and experience with the kids,” shared Colie.
Eco-Explorers is just one of 8 camps being offered at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire this summer. Topics and more information can be found on the museum’s website at www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/camps-classes. To register for Eco-Explorers or any other camp, please call 603-742-2002. Registration for camps closes one week before they begin.
T-Rex Takes over CMNH
A visit to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover just got a bit more Cretaceous! A life-size Tyrannosaurus Rex skull cast, along with a life-size footprint cast, have been loaned to the museum for the summer and now live in the popular Dino Detective Exhibit.
Generously loaned to the museum by Shawn Warren of The PAST, and made possible by the love and support of June Marie Warren and William Donald Warren of Neillsville, Wisconsin, the T. Rex specimens (known as AMNH 5027) join an augmented reality sand table, Triceratop fossil casts and an area to dig for fossils and make ammonite fossil rubbings.
“We’re very excited to have these replicas on loan to the museum,” said Eric Erwin, CMNH Exhibits Manager. “They make a great compliment to the hands-on pieces that make up our Dino Detective exhibit, and I have a feeling the kids will love posing with this giant skull and footprint!”
Specimen AMNH 5027, the fossil of an adult Tyrannosaurus Rex, was discovered over 100 years ago in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana in 1907 by Barnum Brown. The T. Rex, while living would have measured 20 feet in height, 50 feet in length and weighed 7 tons. The original skull fossil was on display at the American Natural History Museum in 1915, where it fueled a generation of imaginings about this towering and impressive carnivore. There have since been many additional discoveries of T. Rex specimens, and the AMNH mount is no longer the only or most complete T. Rex around. But, it was the first.
The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire is now open seven days a week for summer hours. Guests can visit anytime Mondays through Saturdays, 10am-5pm and Sundays, noon-5pm. Fun in all the exhibits is included with museum admission which is $10 per person for everyone over the ages of 12 months. Seniors 65+ pay only $9.
Interview with Megan, Director of Atlantic Gymnastics at the Dover location.
By Kelly Sorge, CMNH Marketing Intern
Q. What do you like about teaching children?
A. I like teaching kids because they’re excited about everything! Everyone is always ready to learn which makes teaching so much fun!
Q. What are the benefits of kids learning gymnastics?
A. Kids learn important body movements like balance, strength, and coordination. They also learn lifelong skills like discipline, confidence, responsibility, the ability to work with others, and taking correction.
Q. What is your favorite part of your job?
A. My job is always different. I teach kids 18 months - 18 years so I get to see different faces and teach different skills every day.
Q. Why/how did you get involved in gymnastics? What has the impact of gymnastics been on your life?
A. I started learning gymnastics when I was three years old with my mom as my coach; she’s still coaching now! At thirteen I started assisting her at coaching in the gym and I started working for Atlantic my sophomore year in college at UNH. Gymnastics has been part of my whole life. My mom and my sister are both involved and it’s a part of who I am. I love the challenge!
Q. So what do you have planned for Gymnastics Day at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire on Saturday, April 29, 11am-3pm?
A. The activities for Gymnastics Day will be a small version of the classes we teach here. We will bring in a balance beam and ball and teach kids how to use their body to balance. We will also be talking about some of the summer programs we have going on.
The Children's Museum of New Hampshire will hold its annual 5K Road Race/Walk & Kid-venture Course on Saturday, May 6, 2017 and is looking for participants. The Children’s Museum’s 5k is the first race in the Seacoast Road Race Series. Proceeds from all races in the series benefit non-profits like the museum.
“Our race is different from a lot of races in the area,” said Neva Cole, CMNH Communications Director. “It is a certified course and is for runners as well as walkers, but on race day it’s like a giant party in Henry Law Park in downtown Dover. We have amazing food including a Tasty Toppings Yogurt Bar, sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets and featuring Stonyfield yogurt, music by our MC and local radio personality Mike Pomp, and a newly designed Kid-venture Course for kids who might be a little too young to run in the 5k just yet!”
The 5K for adults begins at 9am at the intersection of Central Avenue, Washington Street and Henry Law Avenue. The course runs up Central Avenue to Chapel Street, up Portland Avenue and back down to Henry Law Park. Post-race activities, including an awards ceremony and refreshments, will take place in Henry Law Park following the race. The 5K registration fee is $22 in advance and $25 on the day of the race. Walk-up registration for the 5k will be available at The Children’s Museum on race day starting at 7:30am up until 15 minutes prior to the start of the 5k.
Children ages 12 and younger can participate in the Kid-venture Course, which takes place at 10am in Henry Law Park. “The KidVenture Course will feature a series of zany, exhibit-themed challenge,” shared Jane Bard, CMNH President. “From crab walking under the ‘sea’ and crawling through caterpillar tunnels, to transporting dino eggs to their nest and crossing the (pretend) Cocheco River, there is something fun for everyone! We’ve partnered with The Works Family Health and Fitness Center to create this course and I think it will have children moving, grooving and stretching their creative muscles!”
All Kid-venture Course participants will receive a ribbon and t-shirt while supplies last. The entry fee for the Kid-venture Course is $8 in advance and $10 on race day.
Also new this year, the museum invites participants to raise donations through CrowdRise. “You can sign up to fundraise as an individual or a as a team through CrowdRise and the fundraising team who raises the most money by May 5 will get to enjoy an exclusive VIP hospitality tent on race day, stocked with food, beverages and attendants!” shared Cole. Visit www.crowdrise.com/ChildrensMuseumofNewHampshire5K to sign up to fundraise. Fundraising teams can raise money together, but cannot sign up to race in the 5k or Kid-venture Course as a team.
To learn more or to register, visit www.childrens-museum.org/things-to-do/events/5k-road-race-fun-run. The museum thanks it’s 2017 Road Race sponsors including Sprague, The Works Family Health & Fitness Center, Formax, Relyco, Weathervane, Burns, Bryant, Cox, Rockefeller & Durkin, PA, Willem Verweij Physical Therapy, Bob’s Discount Furniture and Hannaford Supermarkets.