Summer fun on tap for area youth

by Jo Anne Embleton

CHEROKEE COUNTY – An array of activities are on tap this summer – many of them free of charge – for area youth interested in faith, literacy, athletics or just plain outdoorsy fun.

Among the Vacation Bible Schools held this summer are:

• Rocky Springs Baptist Church's program, for youths in grades Pre-K through high school, will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m., June 7-11.

• "Alpine Ascent" will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. nightly, June 6-9, for youths in grades K-6, at East Side Baptist Church, 1100 Texas Loop 456 in Jacksonville.

• “Destination Dig: Unearthing the Truth About Jesus” VBS is planned June 21-25 at Eastside Baptist Church, 400 Academy St. in Jacksonville. The program will be held nightly, 6 to 8:45 p.m. for youths ages 4 through sixth grade.

• Central Baptist Church of Jacksonville will host "Concrete and Cranes,” June 28 to July 2 for youths through sixth grade. The camp is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to noon daily. Call 586-2215 for more info, or register at

Summer reading programs include:

• “Tails and Tales,” hosted by Bullard Community Library, June 1 through July 22 for children and adults. Special activities are offered at the downtown library at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays, while story time begins at 10:30 a.m. storytime on Thursdays. Visit to learn more about the summer reading program, or call 903-894-6125.

• The Rusk Public Library will offer “Tales and Tails” every Tuesday from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m., June 8 to July 27, with events slated at various locations throughout the city. To learn more, contact library staff at 903-683-5916.

•Jacksonville Public Library will offer “Tails and Tales,” Monday through Wednesday, June 14 through July 23, with take-home activities available. Register online or in-person at the library's new home, 526 E. Commerce St. Or, to learn more, visit the Facebook page, Jacksonville Public Library

• Alto's Stella Hill Memorial Library will offer Camp Read-a-Lot from June 16 to July 30 in Alto. Youths completing eight or more books read are eligible for gift packs and other goodies.

While no events are yet scheduled for this summer's program at Cameron-J. Jarvis Troup Municipal Library, youth participants are eligible for prizes based on the number of pages or books read, starting June 1. Registration logs are located at the downtown library.

Youths interested in sports camps can choose among the following activities:

• The annual Troup Basketball Camp for boys and girls gets under way on June 7 and runs through June 9. Youngsters in grades 2-5 in the fall are scheduled for 8-10 a.m. Sessions, with those in grades 6-9 in the fall slated for instruction from 10 a.m. to noon. All sessions will take place at Tiger Gymnasium. Registration fee is $50 for those signing up by Sat., May 28. The fee is $60 for those that sign up after May 28.

• In Wells, a youth Pirate Camp hosted by Chad Collins and Jason Ashworth, is slated June 7-10 at the Wells New Gym for students in grades K-9. The camp will be held from 8:30 to noon the first three days, with an 11 a.m. awards presentation planned the final day. Cost is $50 per camper, or $85 for two family members. Contact Jason Ashworth, 936-676-6886, to learn more.

• Troup Youth Association will offer cheer and football summer camps this July, from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays, July 17, 24 and 31 at Troup Football Stadium. New players will need a copy of their birth certificate and a sports physical. To learn more about the cheer camp, contact Casey Kirkland, 903-574-1919, or Emilie Hampe, 903-393-0551; for information about football camp, contact Cody Deese at 903-374-5986.

Like to swim? Area pools and splashpads will be open this summer for cool fun!

• The City of Troup's Joe Layne Splashpad, located west of downtown, opened May 14. Hours of operation are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

• The Rusk pool, which opened Memorial Day weekend, also features a splashpad for younger children. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; however, Wednesday hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The pool is closed Sunday.

• Lake Jacksonville concession opened Memorial Day Weekend; the city's Operation Life Jacket is offered again this year, providing free use of lifejackets for youths and ensuring water safety. A splashpad is located at Jacksonville's Nichols Green Park, 1215 Heritage Dr., while a pool is operated at Buckner Park, in the 100 block of Newbern Street.

Other fun offerings are the facilities and programs at area parks, along with Caddo Mounds State Historic Site and Mission Tejas State Park