Exercise and art opportunities for kids in pandemic-time

Episode 78 | September 30, 2020



Welcome to a Moonshine Minutes episode dedicated to updates on best ways to get your kids out of the house during COVID, exercise and art editions. Spoiler alert: There’s a lot of creative ways to keep your little ones active, and while creativity and hope remain alive, the pandemic has taken a major toll on local arts activities and organizations. 

I’m Becca Loux, your host for today’s Moonshine Minutes, based on reporting by Juliana Demarest. Send feedback and ideas for this show to editors@moonshineink.com.

By now, practice fields around the area are usually buzzing with kids of all ages getting warmed up for the fall season of soccer, football, and fall ball. With the continued COVID craziness, however, most student athletes have found the start of their sport season delayed at best. Just as it is with in-person learning, it is equally important for kids to have ways to keep active and burn off energy during distance learning.


Local recreation programs and other entities are offering a number of low-risk possibilities, both indoors and outdoors. These programs are following COVID-19 health and safety protocols while also giving kids an opportunity to channel pent-up energy following four hours of screen time that comes with online classes.

Tahoe City Public Utilities District’s Recreation Afterschool Program (R.A.P.) is an outdoor-based activity program at Skylandia Park. Open to Tahoe Truckee Unified School District students, R.A.P. started in September for kids in grades K-5. In addition to physical activity, there will also be craft time and homework assistance. Students are grouped by the grade they are attending for the 2020/21 school year. Camper to staff ratio is 8:1 and the program features a kinder/first grade group; second/third grade groups; and fourth/fifth grade groups. The program runs Monday through Friday, 2 to 6 p.m., through Oct. 2 and is $20 per day. Find full details at tcpud.org contact us at (530) 583-3440 or recreation@tcpud.org.

Incline Village Parks and Recreation has a number of options available this fall. Choose from Invasion Soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Outdoor Grass Volleyball on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Saturday Night Lights Flag Football on Friday and Saturday afternoons and evenings, and Village Skate School with Cedar Gately. Pricing available for full session or for drop-ins. Other options like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Youth Indoor Soccer League, and Shotokan karate are temporarily on hold, while Tahoe Timbers Gym Time and Youth Dance are scheduled to resume sometime in the fall. Visit yourtahoeplace.com for full information.

The Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District recently released its 2020 fall activity guide and includes a wide variety of activities to get your student up and moving. Although the climbing wall is not open for public sessions, climbing classes are open for kids ages 5 to 17. Also find golf camps, basketball clinics, and dance classes, and as winter arrives, add hockey skills clinics and Buddy Werner Development skiing (pending what happens with ski season) to the mix. New this fall is P.E. & Play, designed to provide kids the benefits of exercising in a group setting. Find the full guide and details at tdrpd.org.

Although American Youth Soccer Organization has canceled its season, your kiddos can still get their soccer fix with Truckee Sports Camp non-competitive soccer camps, held after school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. TSC is also running a fall ice hockey program at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, teaching kids all aspects of ice hockey. Transportation and gear are included. Find more information at truckeesportscamp.com.

Woodward Tahoe is holding after-school multi-sport sessions as part of its Woodward Mountain Kids program. Participants will be grouped by grade and ability level in a sport-learning curriculum, allowing them to start fresh or focus on their favorites if they’re already into action sports. This coach-guided program runs from 2 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday this fall, starting Sept. 28. Book one week or book multiple weeks, with eight total available weeks to choose from. Learn more at rideboreal.com.

Truckee Dance Factory has a wide variety of classes to get your kids up and moving. From traditional styles like ballet, tap, and jazz to modern genres like acrobatic arts, hip hop, and turns and leaps, there’s something to entertain every skill and energy level. Classes are back in session for fall and are limited in size to follow strict COVID guidelines. Find class descriptions and registration information at truckeedancefactory.com.

Cheer Preschool is open for your energetic little one to learn chants, cheers, stunts, and dance routines in a fun-filled session of cheer. Make new friends, learn about the sport and create amazing cheer routines. Registration is now open to residents and non-residents of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. Camp is for children ages 3 to 5. Go to tdrpd.org for more information.

Tahoe Flow Arts & Fitness is offering two Circus Camps this fall. Held in the outdoor garden, Circus Camp immerses your child in the many flow arts including aerial fabrics, hula hoop, dance, acrobatics, yoga, and more. Learning these skills will instill creativity, self-expression, and focus. Spots are limited, so don’t wait to sign-up. An afterschool session will run from Sept. 21 to 25 from 3 to 5 p.m. and a weekend camp will be held Oct. 2 to 4 starting Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., and from 9:30 to 3:30 Saturday and Sunday. Both camps are open to kids ages 8 to 13. Sign up at tahoeflow.com.

Introduce your child to martial arts with the Karate Kids program at Tahoe Mountain Fitness in Truckee. Although classes are looking a little different these days due to COVID-19 guidelines, your child will learn the basic principles of this freestyle karate program. Using the fundamentals of self-defense, emphasis is placed on the elements of form and structure, stance, and alignment, which create the building blocks crucial to a successful and disciplined martial arts practice. Open to ages 5 and older, Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Learn more at tahoemountainfit.com.

The Truckee Bike Park is open year-round, weather permitting. Located at Riverview Sports Park on Joerger Drive, there is something for every age and ability level with five different tracks: a traditional pump track, a pump park, dirt jumps, flow lines, a drop zone, and dual slalom. The Truckee Skate Park is located at Truckee River Regional Park on Brockway Road and is open year-round, depending on weather conditions. Find information about group and private lessons for each at truckeebikepark.org and tdrpd.org.

Truckee Gymnastics, located on Deerfield Drive, reopened in June and ran camps over the summer. Classes will run this fall following strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols and with reduced class sizes. There are various levels of programming available, ranging from parent/child classes for toddlers up through more advanced levels in the teen years. Find a full schedule online at truckeegymnastics.com.

The arts and culture scene is as much a part of summer in the Tahoe/Truckee region as recreation; a part of the community like the the lakes, rivers, and trails that countless thousands of visitors come to enjoy. As the onset of COVID-19 essentially brought life as we knew it to a screeching halt in mid-March, the outlook for a season full of art and music was grim. Now, six months into the pandemic, things aren’t looking much better.

For nearly two decades, InnerRhythms Performing septCenter has introduced the world of dance to students young and old, some of whom went on to become professional dancers. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the studio was able to introduce to the performing arts students who otherwise might not have been able to afford classes disciplines ranging from ballet and jazz to hip hop and theater. The studio recently announced, however, that it has gone dark, another victim of the pandemic.

Truckee studio’s Elizabeth Archer wrote in an email to Moonshine Ink:

“When I founded InnerRhythms alongside co-founder Sheri Woodsgreen, our vision was to serve the community through the performing arts. As a not-for-profit organization, we have been able to procure grant funding and host tax-deductible fundraising events that support the youth of our community. Our intention has always been to give back.”

As COVID closures began to go into effect, InnerRhythms found itself completely shut down on March 16, with several theatrical/dance productions slated for April, May, and June also canceled. With continued expenses but no tuition coming in, the future did not bode well for the dance studio. Most devastating, said Archer, was the cancellation of their annual signature fundraiser, Dancing With Our Sierra Stars, in May.

Archer said: “By June, we knew we could no longer continue to put the organization into further debt. We could not pay rent or our amazing instructors (this was the hardest of all). As a not-for-profit, we could not receive PPE and did not want to jeopardize the organization further by taking out an SBA loan with no means of paying that back.”

The studio did receive a mini grant through the Nevada County Relief Fund, Archer said, noting that the funds went directly to InnerRhythms’ instructors to help honor a commitment to their contracts through part of April.

The decision to close InnerRhythms, which in July had just celebrated its 19th anniversary and was going strong prior to COVID, was, Archer said, “sad and emotional. We are beyond proud of what we have been able to offer the youth and adults of our community by helping them express themselves through movement in a safe, inclusive, family-oriented environment for nearly two decades.”

Although InnerRhythms closed its doors, Archer looks forward to some reincarnation of the nonprofit in the future. She told us, “our intention for InnerRhythms is to continue as a not-for-profit arts advocate in our community. Our focus will continue to be to support young performing artists through scholarships, programs, and projects. We intend to hold fundraisers and productions once it becomes safe and comfortable for us all to get back together as a community.”

On another performance front, Truckee Community Theater is funded primarily through ticket sales. TCT puts on four main stage productions, including a teen musical, the 10-Minute Play Festival, an adult or family musical, and a play. The theater typically produces a holiday play or musical as well. Without productions, however, there are no ticket sales and the show won’t go on.

Theater director Carrie Haines said: “When the [stay-at-home] order was issued for California, TCT was just a week from opening our winter production of Steel Magnolias. The only production that opened in 2020 was our teen musical in January. All other productions have been shut down. In addition, we had to cancel all spring classes and our spring break camp. Summer camps were allowed to run, but with less than half the normal attendance and outdoors to allow for a safer environment.”

At this point, Haines said TCT still has no indication of when it might be able to resume live on-stage performances.

“It could look very different for a very long time. Normally, TCT main stage performances house an audience at the Community Arts Center of up to 220. Right now, we can’t have more than 10 in a room.”

Fundraising efforts were also totally halted as a result of the pandemic. Most of the local service groups and grant providers that help TCT annually declared that performing arts were not considered “essential” and therefore there would be no funding for TCT in 2020, Haines said. Forced to think on a grander scale, the Dream Big Project was born.

Haines said, “My dream for Truckee Community Theater is to grow our annual budget from $60,000 to $500,000 in the next five years. TCT would have its own studio space and eventually its own theater space … My personal mission is to create and grow a school of performing arts that offers classes and workshops to children and adults of all ages. In addition, we would offer a four-year college-prep curriculum for high school students who plan to pursue dramatic arts in college. Currently, our high schools do not offer anything like this.”

TCT presently has a partnership with the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District and uses classroom space at the CAC for its school of performing arts. TDRPD takes 30% of all registration fees they collect. TCT gets 70%, which is used to pay instructors as well as cover costs. They also rent the stage for performances.

Haines told us, “Sadly, the effects of this pandemic on the arts will be catastrophic. Many companies will close for good. Many are out of work.”. She described the challenge for social distancing, saying theater is “bigger than the actors on the stage or in front of the camera. There are stage workers, lighting crew, sound technicians, costume designers, set designers, stagehands, and camera crew to consider … There is no word on when things will return to ‘normal.’”

For students around the region, this school year will look anything but normal. Every September, over 500 third grade students from California and Nevada are delighted with a field trip to Sand Harbor for The Dreaming Tree, presented by Trails and Vistas. Following a mission of celebrating the arts and nature, Trails and Vistas presents these interactive art hikes that include music, poetry, storytelling, environmental studies, and visual art.

With COVID-19 protocols still in place, however, the Dreaming Tree won’t happen. Neither will the Truckee Historical Tour, a performance art tour that blends history and fiction, leading guests to a number of locations along Truckee’s Commercial Row. It’s the biggest annual fundraiser for Trails and Vistas, which also holds art hikes at various locations throughout the year.

Trails & Vistas board president Jean Fournier said: “Our nonprofit organization survived this year financially because we received a grant from the California Arts Council to support our art and cultural programs for our community and visitors. We lost all of our earned ticket revenue for a full year, which is over 50% of our annual budget.”

As soon as this year’s in-person art events were postponed, focus shifted and Trails & Vistas founder Nancy Lopez created  Adopt an Artist Fund to help support independent artists. Donations from $10 to $1,000 soon came in from folks close to home and as far as Los Angeles and even Shiner, Texas. By the end of May, over $3,000 was donated, with funds going to Trails & Vistas independent artists to keep creating for the art in nature events.

In June, Lopez again shifted focus and went to work producing and filming a virtual art hike movie. ​She collaborated with about a dozen artists to create the film, showcasing visual and performance art at four art hike trail locations.

Lopez said, “Truckee is a designated California Arts and Culture District and local artists and art organizations need our support right now. Arts are essential. Purchasing a ticket to view Trails & Vistas’ virtual art hike film, Full Circle, is parallel to buying a take-out meal to help a local restaurant remain in business.”

Tickets for the film are available online at trailsandvistas.org. Supporters will receive a link via email to view the film at home on or after Sept. 18. Tickets for students are $15, family/adult tickets are $20. If 500 people purchase a $20 film ticket, the nonprofit would raise $10,000.

Trails & Vistas plans to shift back to an in-person experience in 2021 for all events.

Find both articles in full, titled Burn, Baby, Burn and Artistically Challenged, respectively on moonshineink.com. Get outside and active, safely distanced, and make some art today, Tahoe. We could all use a little creativity, and the fresh air is precious while it’s clear. 






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