By Olga Pena
Killeen Daily Herald
As the summer recess from school gears up, backyards, parks, shopping malls and movie theaters will begin bursting with energetic kids and teens looking to enjoy their hard-earned free time.
Area public pools and the Boys and Girls Club will begin bustling in coming days with crowds of youth looking to keep cool and have fun.
School's out. Summer break is here at last.
For Jennifer Vargas, picking up her son Ruben on his last day of school was exciting and surreal.
"I can't believe it's over. It seems just like yesterday I was dropping him off," said Vargas of her 5-year-old son's first year of school.
The stay-at-home mom now will have more company all day, every day, as she enjoys her toddler and 8-month-old.
Vargas said it will be interesting to see when Ruben notices that he'll be out of school for more than a weekend. Meanwhile she and her soldier husband are planning lots of family trips for the coming summer months.
"My hubby just came back from Iraq. We'll be taking them out of town a lot," Vargas said.
Besides trips, Ruben just finished T-ball season, is set for swimming lessons and will end the summer with soccer in August.
While families like the Vargas' are looking for avenues to keep their young ones busy, others are hard at work preparing to offer young people things to do all summer long.
Calvin Darthard is director of operations at the Clements Boys and Girls Clubs where he has been working more than eight years, and he's already feeling the summer energy he loves.
"Our numbers go up tremendously over summer months," Darthard said, adding that he most enjoys, "putting a smile on a kid's face, making a difference in a child's life."
The club has four locations or units in Killeen and all of them have extended hours once school is out.
Darthard said the centers also offer extended services such as free breakfast and lunch all for an annual $10 fee that does not apply to military personnel.
At the YMCA in Killeen, Child Care Director Antionette Wiggins has been working at the center 12 years. She too is excited as new faces show up at the YMCA.
Wiggins led an all-day training workshop on Thursday preparing YMCA workers for summer camps that run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
"We are ready to go," Wiggins said. "I'm looking forward to the kids enjoying themselves, meeting new people, getting their learning skills up."
At the end of the day, Wiggins, like Darthard, said she just wants kids to have fun this summer and stay safe.
1125 Bonnie Drive
(Behind Pershing Park Elementary School)
Hours of operation: Tues.-Sun. 1-7 p.m.
Long Branch Pool
1101 Branch Drive
(Inside Long Branch Park)
Hours of operation: 1-7 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
For more information, fees and swimming lessons go to www.ci.killeen.tx.us/
Copperas Cove pools
The city has three swimming pools that are open during the summer months. The City Park and South Park pools offer a daily admission or summer passes are available that can be used at both pools. Swim lessons are offered during the summer months.
Open swim: 1-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 1-7 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Family swim: 7-9 p.m. Tues. & Thurs.
For more information, fees and swimming lessons go to www.ci.copperas-cove.tx.us
Harker Heights aquatics
Carl Levin Outdoor Pool
400 Miller's Crossing
Open swim Saturdays and Sundays only until June 10.
Season opens June 10
1:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
Closed on Mondays for maintenance
Fore more information, fees and swiming lessons go to www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us