By Colleen Sparks
Summer looks different this year as city of Phoenix pools are closed, family vacations have been canceled and many day camps and businesses have shut down temporarily because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, with some creativity and adjustments, families can find ways to keep entertained and educated during these hot months.
The city of Phoenix public pools are closed for this summer after the City Council could not reach consensus on whether and how to open them during a meeting last month. Typically thousands of residents every summer participate in the city’s aquatic programs via swimming lessons and open swim sessions. City officials debated whether it would be safe for people to use the public pools, including how to require swimmers to maintain the recommended social distancing in order to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They tried to weigh the merits of public pools providing recreation and exercise to residents with the risks of the public possibly contracting the virus during a long discussion that raised many questions but no clear answers as much is still unknown about Coronavirus.
Phoenix City Councilmember Carlos Garcia said he enjoyed city pools as a child but he had safety concerns about opening them this season.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that we open the pools, put people at risk,” Garcia said at the June City Council meeting. “I don’t see how we’re able to keep social distancing. It feels like we’d have to go out of our way, spend the resources and at the end of the day we don’t know (if) we’re protecting them.”
Phoenix City Council Vice Mayor Betty Guardado said she was concerned about the number of people in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department who had already been infected with COVID-19. She also questioned whether employees would have to take residents at their word when asked if they had COVID-19 symptoms before going into the pools.
The city of Phoenix has extended summer hours for three of its popular hiking spots – North Mountain Park, Piestewa Peak Trailhead in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and Pima Canyon Trailhead in South Mountain Park/Preserve. In order to offer an additional two hours of availability for hiking in those areas, parking lot entrances are open until 9 p.m. The parking lots at those three trailheads open at 5 a.m. and the trails are open until 11 p.m. year-round.
Phoenix Park rangers recommend hiking either early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler outside and there is more shade.
Children and teens can keep busy, exercise and socialize through the sports that Recreation Association of Madison Meadows & Simis (RAMMS) non-profit organization offers. Registration begins Saturday, July 11 for flag football (for boys and girls) and for girls and boys volleyball. The flag football and volleyball teams are expected to start games for the season on Sept. 12. Youths around the Valley play sports through RAMMS, a competitive recreational league, said Damon Boyd, president of RAMMS and director of baseball, as well as a parent of three children.
Practices and games for RAMMS teams are held around North Central Phoenix.
“For the safety of our kids and families we canceled spring softball and baseball season,” Boyd said. “It was tremendously disappointing. We’re hopeful, just like everyone is…that things will be better by the time August rolls around. We’re recognizing, too, that it will probably be different.”
He and other officials with RAMMS are determining what safety measures they will take, including social distancing of athletes when feasible and possibly prohibiting youths from shaking hands with opposing teams after games. For the 2019-20 season, there were more than 2,200 children and teens that participated in RAMMS sports.
To learn more about RAMMS, visit ramms.org.
Adults and children have many choices in activities to do inside or online this summer.
Arizona Science Center at 600 E. Washington St. reopened its physical building to members and the public last month for small group guided experiences. Besides maintaining a high level of sanitation and cleanliness practices, the science center is asking anyone at least 2 years old to wear appropriate face masks or cloth face coverings. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own masks but disposable masks are available in the center.
Guests will not be able to explore the Arizona Science Center in self-guided tours. Small-group, guided experiences will allow the operation to control guest flow and perform additional cleaning in between groups’ visits. Each guided experience will be limited to 10 people per journey. It is recommended customers buy tickets to the science center online ahead of time at azscience.org or by calling 602-716-2028.
Phoenix Art Museum at 1625 N. Central Ave. was temporarily closed in its physical space, as of press time, but is offering many programs online. In order to try to relieve anxiety, depression, pain and stress, you can participate in the weekly virtual mindfulness sessions the Phoenix Art Museum is offering at noon July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. These 30-minute mindfulness sessions aim to help people live in the moment and are presented in collaboration with Hospice of the Valley. Sessions are hosted on the video conferencing platform Zoom. To learn more about the classes, visit hov.org/for-the-community. To learn more about Phoenix Art Museum, visit phxart.org.
The Heard Museum reopened its physical setting last month with some new safety measures in place. Attendance at the museum at 2301 N. Central Ave. is limited to 100 people per hour. Staff members and visitors must wear face coverings for all indoor spaces. Disposable masks and gloves are at the museum for anyone to use free-of-charge. To learn more, visit heard.org.
For those who like performance art, The School of Ballet Arizona is offering in-person and online dance classes this summer. Adult intermediate/advanced ballet classes are taught from 9 to 10:15 a.m. Wednesdays and 9 to 10:15 a.m. Thursdays online and at the school at 2835 E. Washington St. Advanced adult ballet classes are being given from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and beginning/intermediate adult ballet classes are delivered from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays. The classes online cost $10 and pre-registration is required. Anyone ages 14 and older can take the adult classes. It costs $18 per class for the in-studio ballet classes. To learn more, visit balletaz.org/open-special-classes/adult-open-classes.
Boys can stay busy, as well as learn new skills and bond with others through Boy Scout Troop 41, which serves boys ages 11 to 17. The Boy Scouts have been meeting online through Zoom Wednesday nights when the COVID-19 pandemic struck but hope to take trips to other parts of Arizona and possibly San Diego this summer, said Brian Cook, Scout master for the troop. While the troop takes a break for part of the summer, it is hoping to meet again in person sometime in August, Cook said. Boys interested in getting involved in Boy Scout Troop 41 can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.