It seems things in Portland are moving toward normalcy. One of the best things I heard a few days ago was that Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR) is bringing back some amazing summer opportunities for youth and families. Last summer, my kids were devastated that their regular neighborhood splash pads were closed. This year, splash pads in Portland are currently scheduled to open! We also missed swimming in the outdoor public pools last year, and they are also set to open in the summer for limited activities. Even though we have an above-ground pool here at home, these offerings are near and dear to our hearts because we can get out and embrace our community. I can’t wait to watch the kids flail around in a splash pad and dive into the pool at Creston Park. Here are some of the services/activities that will take place this summer: 

Free Lunch and Play-

Every summer, Portland Parks offers free lunches and activities in varied parks around Portland. The lunches can be enjoyed in the park or taken home. This summer, the program is back! Here is a link to the parks offering this service and more info about dates/times: https://www.portland.gov/parks/free-lunch-play.

Splash Pads-

The info in this section is short and sweet but reads, “splash pads are anticipated to reopen.” 

Outdoor Pools-

Unfortunately, I don’t see anything about “general open swim.” Still, this section relays that outdoor public pools will be open for water fitness classes, lap swims, life-saving swim lessons, and swim team activities. The section also notes that indoor pools will only open if public health conditions allow it. 

Gateway Discovery Park-

This park has only been open for a few years. It is such a lovely place. Many cool structures and play equipment for kids, a sand play area, and a fun splash pad. One of the most special things about this park is the art and cultural activities they offer regularly. Last summer was pretty quiet over there, but they are scheduled to bring back activities this summer. Here is a link to the park: https://www.portland.gov/parks/gateway-discovery-park.

Nature Day Camps (for 5–12-year-old’s)

Portland Parks is offering day camp sessions. Registration starts on April 6th. The hours are from 9-3:30. The days are Mon-Thurs and Mon-Fri, depending on the session. A 4-day week for a Portland resident costs $225, and a 5-day week costs $275. They offer a “pay what you can discount” of $50. There is a section that describes a day at camp. The day begins with a small group circle, moves onto songs/storytelling/etc., hiking/exploration, snacks and lunch, games, crafts, and then ends. It sounds like a lot of fun! I’m definitely signing my kids up for a week 😊 Here is the link to more info: https://www.portland.gov/parks/environmental-education/nature-day-camp.

Summer Camps-

The section doesn’t give too much info but reads, “summer camps will be available at twenty different locations in the city.” For more info, I would suggest exploring the “Portland Parks and Recreation” website: https://anc.apm.activecommunities.com/portlandparks/home?onlineSiteId=0&from_original_cui=true.

Stay and Play Video Series-

A great virtual offering is fun activities (art, education, music, and fitness) on the PPR YouTube channel at this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIN15l_DFXzNTNw8cAw8Tww/videos.

Sun Community Schools-

Outdoor summer camps will be offered through a collaboration of PPR and Sun. Here is a link to more info about SUN schools: https://www.portland.gov/parks/recreation/sun-community-schools.

Ladybug Nature Walks- (for 0–6-year old’s) 

These fun walks are geared toward parents and their young kiddos. A parent is required to be there with their child. A nature educator meets a small group for a walk through a Portland Park. The walks are child-led but supported by the instructor. Kiddos can borrow a “ladybug backpack” with a magnifying glass, plastic bug box, small toy insect, and other fun items during the walk. The idea is to get kids out in nature and answer the many questions they have that stem from the exploration. Here is a link for more info: https://www.portland.gov/parks/environmental-education/ladybug-nature-walks.

Arts Centers-

The Multnomah Art Center and the Community Music Center will offer outdoor camps and classes. Here is a link to their “spring term” virtual programming: https://www.multnomahartscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Spring-Term_AC-Virtual-Class-List.pdf. Here is a link to the MAC website: https://www.multnomahartscenter.org/.

Fitness in the Park-

There is little info in this section, but it does relay that there will be an expansion in yoga, exercise, and Zumba classes over the summer. Here is a link for more info: https://www.portland.gov/parks/recreation/fitness-park.


Our other favorite PPR summer activity is “Movies in the Park.” Sadly, it will not happen this year. There is a note on the PPR page that concerts and movies in the park are dependent on how many people are allowed. We are currently under “moderate risk,” which means only 25% capacity is allowed for big events such as these. Too many people attend these events for them to host anything this year. Here’s to hoping for next year! There are plenty of options for families to get out and have fun, get resources they need like food, or set their kiddos up for some summer camp. Here is a link to the original article that provided all this great info:  https://www.portland.gov/parks/news/2021/2/18/portland-parks-recreation-will-restore-2021-summer-programming. Best of luck to you all in embracing our beautiful Portland Parks and all the activities they offer. 

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