School vacations are a little slice of heaven a precious pocket of freedom that, to adolescents, probably seems sweeter than even the syrupiest of coffee milks. While many kids and teens may choose to spend the upcoming February break zoned out in front of various screens, there are plenty of alternatives in and around the East Side for those who crave action and adventure in a more real sense...and not just for play.
1. Providence Children’s Film Festival, February 13-23
Feed your child’s inner movie monster at the fifth annual Providence Children’s Film Festival, a nationally recognized celebration featuring productions that explore issues related to youngsters and teens around the world. This year the fest plays host to films from Japan, France, the Netherlands and Uruguay (among others), and local Rhode Island filmmaker Mitty Mirrer will present and discuss her documentary, Gold Star Children. Stick around after each flick and expand your child’s (and your own) movie loving mind via some enlightening conversation. Most films are appropriate for ages 3-18. $6 for children/$8 for adults. Multiple times and locations. 209-7585.
2. Roger Williams Park Zoo Winter Camp, February 18-21
Is your little one a lover of all creatures great, small, furry and (eek!) scaly? Enroll your mini-zoologist in Roger Williams Park Zoo’s winter camp. Each day attendees will engage in activities and crafts related to this year’s theme, “Ice and Snow, Where Do They Go?” which explores the cold weather habits of animals. Campers will also get to interact with furry friends and go on guided tours of the zoo. Ages 6-10. All four days: $165 members/$190 non-members. Single days: $46 members/$54 non-members. 8:30am-3:30pm. 1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence. 785-3510.
3. Narragansett Bay Winter Vacation Camp, February 17-21
Ahoy mateys! If your youngster is a salty sea-scientist at heart who is interested in all things ocean related, then sign that curious crustacean up for Narragansett Bay’s winter vacation camp. This five-day experience based out of the Save the Bay Center in Providence introduces campers to a variety of scientific instruments and sea dwelling creatures. Attendees will also set sail on one of Save the Bay’s special research vessels to take a peek at Narragansett’s own harbor seals frolicking amongst the surf. For students in grades 3 through 5. $250 members/$275 non-members. 8:30am-4:30pm. 100 Save The Bay Drive, Providence. 272-3540 x139.
4. Winter Scenes Vacation Camp for Kids, February 17-21
Channel your child’s innate creative nature this winter break. RISD offers a five-day artistic intensive centered around storytelling. Each participant will construct a mini-theater with which they will tell a tale of their own choosing, to be performed for visitors at the end of camp. Throughout the experience, campers will learn the fundamentals of drawing, painting, sculpture and architecture. Ages 7-12. $470. 9am-4pm. Tillinghast Farm 231 Benefit St, Providence. 454-6200.
5. Movie Masterworks: The Face of Funny Vacation Camp for Teens, February 17-21
Humor is perhaps one of the trickiest artforms, and without it, existence would be bleak! Expose your not-so-little one to the hilarious world of visual comedy, from Chaplin to Seth Meyers, at RISD’s winter camp for teens. Throughout the week, attendees will learn the intricacies of filmmaking from beginning to completion while creating their own chuckle inducing, handmade short films. Ages 13-17. $540. 10am-4:30pm. RISD Campus. 454-6200.
6. Rock Spot Vacation Camp, February 17-24
Help your brood release some of that seemingly endless vacation energy during Rock Spot’s vacation camp. This weeklong event at Rock Spot’s Lincoln location encourages kids to exercise in a fun, creative and safe manner. Campers will play climbing games, engage in team building activities and learn how to belay. Half and full day options available. Your little ones will literally be allowed to jump off of the walls! Ages 6 and up. Full days: $85 single/$350 week. Half days: $50 single/$195 week. 9am-4pm. 100 Higginson Ave, Lincoln. 727-1704.
7. Providence Children’s Museum Special Events: Be An Engineer & Young Engineer, February 15 & 22
In celebration of National Engineers Week, the Providence Children’s museum will host two special events geared towards those who yearn to build, construct and connect. At the “Be an Engineer” event (February 15), kids will be able to visit various activity stations, meet with real engineers and conduct experiments using the ooiest, gooiest of materials. At the “Young Engineer” event (February 22), participants will meet with civil engineers and engage in civil planning challenges. All ages. Free for members/$9 non-member. 11am-2pm both days. 100 South Street, Providence. 273-5437.
8. Friday Night Live, February 21
February break is the perfect opportunity to get involved in Providence’s comedy scene. Encourage your budding comedian to experience Friday Night Live, an outrageous all ages show that includes song, dance, laughter and tears (from too much laughing, no worries). Expect the unexpected at this ridiculous, thought provoking show. And, hey, if your kid/teen enjoys this weekly event, then congrats… you’ve just won a child free hour every Friday night for the foreseeable future! All ages. $5. 7-8pm. 9 Duncan Ave, Providence. 831-9479.
9. Ms. Z’s Wild and Wonderful Story and Craft Hour, February 19
Ms. Z, aka Zara the Giraffe, is Providence Athenaeum’s resident non-human storyteller. Expose your tot to thrilling tales of animal-themed adventures during her weekly story and craft hour. After listening to fascinating tales of wild things from around the world, attendees get to unleash their own inner wildling during a simple, fun craft activity. Hooray for st-ROAR-y telling! All ages. Free. 3:30-4:30pm. 251 Benefit Street, Providence. 421-6970.
10. Storytime for Kids at Books on the Square, February 18, 19, 22
In an age of constant visual and aural stimulation, sometimes simply sitting and listening to someone read can be a refreshing activity, not to mention an exercise in patience and concentration. Expand your young child’s imagination this winter break while feeding their inner bookworm during Storytime for Kids at Books on the Square. The beloved bookshop offers three storytime sessions throughout the week for youngsters up to 6 years old. Free. Tues and Wed: 10:30am, Sat: 11am. 471 Angell Street, Providence. 331-9097.