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Summer programs heat up around western Hidalgo County

20130406 Alton  6011 featureAREA—A number of summer programs are being offered in the western area of Hidalgo County. From Alton to Palmview, community and non-profit programs are providing learning environments meant to get kids active outdoors.

National Butterfly Center

The National Butterfly Center is holding its 2014 Summer Critter Camp from July 7-Aug. 1. The four weeks will cover environmental and life science education for children between the ages of 7-12.

Grounds Manager Max Muñoz said in simple terms the camp allows kids to play with dirt outside. He added children will enjoy everything first hand.

“We have turtles, snakes and lizards,” Muñoz said. “The children are going to be handling some of the creatures here. They will learn by knowing what they feel like and not by watching them on TV.”


Participants are able to interact with different kinds of wildlife that call the center home; they are also able to tour the grounds with the park’s expert guides. The session fee is $50 and runs Monday – Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The first week’s program is called ‘Make way for Monarchs’, which will teach children how to create a safe habitat at home in their own yard for Monarchs. They will learn about their diets and journey from growth to migration.

‘Welcome to the Wild Side’ will run from July 14-18 and allow children to identify native animals by their tracks and other activity. Muñoz said students would be able to see how active animals are in the evening through cameras set up at the center.

“The children will also get to hunt for tracks,” Muñoz said. “I know it is weird but they will also be studying animal poop or scat. Animals leave pellets on the floor and they will be able to study them, you can find skeletons of mice and other remains.”

The third session ‘Ready, Set, Grow’ will teach children how to grow any plant of their choosing. Children will learn about seeds, cuttings, soil and composting.

The last session is called ‘Creepy Crawlers,’ which teaches children about caterpillars, tarantulas, spiny lizards and other insects and reptiles housed at the center.

“I show our kids tarantulas, the praying mantis and slimy worms,” Muñoz said. “There is so much life out there. None of it is dangerous as long as you know what you are doing and you respect them.”

For more information, call the center at 583-5400 or visit to register your child.

World Birding Center

The World Birding Center Bensten-RGV location has multiple programs for all members of the family from June to August.

On Thursdays and Fridays of each week a Beginner’s Dragonfly Walk is offered from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

On Saturdays, Creatures of the Night runs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sundays, the Bentsen Bird Walk runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The Creatures of the Night program requires pre-registration to reserve a spot.

Other activities that require pre-registration include: the Moth Week Celebration that is scheduled from July 26 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Beak the Heat allows families to learn from park naturalists through presentations as well as kid-friendly crafts.

From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on June 21, a class on Birding Basics will be offered, and on July 19 at the same time a Bird Behavior class will be offered. On Aug. 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. a Feathers-Form and Function class will close off the three courses focused on birds.

The park is now operating on different hours after May 29. The park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 pm. daily. The park store and tram service run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday – Sunday. When the visitor center is closed, visitors are asked to pay at the self-pay station beside the main gate into the park.

For more information or to reserve a spot on any of the summer programs, call 584-9156.

Palmview Parks and Recreation

Palmview Boys and Girls Youth Club is holding multiple activities for its summer program. Juan Arevalo, youth club director, said the program is $50 per child and includes breakfast and lunch.

“Our first session is filled, but parents have until the end of June to register for session 2,” Arevalo said. “Once we hit our number, 300, then that is it.”

Students participate in different activities throughout the day that include: arts and crafts, field trips, game room time and recreational activities. Arevalo said the program begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.

This is the second year the program is offered to children, and Arevalo said the new program has been successful. This year the club is also offering summer baseball (ages 3-18), softball (ages 4-18), track (ages 5-18) and golf (ages 5-18).

The summer sports programs are $40 per child. While softball and baseball start on July 1, track and golf started June 2. Arevalo said there are still a few openings in all sports activities and the summer program session 2, he encourages parents to sign their children up.

For more information, contact the youth club at 432-0336 or 391-7924. The facility is located at 406 W. Veterans Blvd. in Palmview; their hours of operation are 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Alton Sports Authority

The Alton Sports Authority has a deadline of June 16 for the boys and girls summer registration for baseball and softball. There are six separate age groups that children can participate in.

The teams include: the Pamper League for ages 3-4 years old (this team requires parent participation); Tee Ball, ages 5-6; Pinto, ages 7-8; Mustang for children between the ages of 9-10; Bronco for ages 11-12; Palomino for ages 13-14.

The nonprofit asks parents to register at the Alton Gym at 349 Dawes Avenue. The gym is open Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Parents should bring a birth certificate and the registration fee of $35 per child.

Parents also have the option of registering online at

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