City raises curtain on summer camp

The city’s Summer Playground and Enrichment Program – aka “summer camp” – begins its two-month run this morning, with hundreds of young campers expected to show up at 10 sites throughout the city.

Recreation Superintendent Sherry Bell said nearly 700 campers are registered this year for the program, which runs each weekday through July 29. The camp is open to ages 5 to 11, with a teen camp for ages 12 to 14.

The majority of the city’s 10 camp sites — which opened at 7 this morning — are at Biloxi public schools, but campers won’t spend much time at the sites. Field trips are planned for each day, with visits to such destinations as the Biloxi Natatorium or the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center and Aquarium, or tours of local museums or historic sites.

For the second straight year, the two camp sites in Woolmarket recorded the largest increases in enrollment – increasing by 20, to a total of 160 campers this year. The program’s “sun camp,” which hosts campers with disabilities, increased from nine campers last year to 12 campers this year.

Reasons for the increasing popularity of the program, Bell said, are the quality of programming and the nominal fee — $25 per week for Biloxi campers, which includes a daily lunch.

Said Mayor A.J. Holloway: “We’re very proud of the success of this program. We’ve worked hard to keep these fees – and all city fees – very affordable for Biloxi residents, and our Parks and Recreation staff has worked hard to make sure we’re providing educational and interesting field trips and other activities for the children, with safety always being our most important responsibility.”