Top 3 Reasons Why Your Kid Should Go to Camp

There are a wealth of reasons why getting kids out of the house and into a camp during the summer months can be beneficial. Just in case you need some extra motivation or simple convincing to sign your youngster up for a summer camp, here are three great reasons to allow them to experience summer camp:

Reason #1

To unplug from technology and reconnect with nature. Studies report that the average child aged 8-18 spends about 35 hours a week watching TV,  and that’s not counting video games and computer time. Too much time spent in front of the TV has been shown to lower their attention span, can alter their dreams and even make them violent and more likely to show aggression. Time spent reconnecting with nature helps children to develop powers of observation and creativity that help to foster language and collaborative skills.

Reason #2

To spend the day being physically active and trying new things. Camp pushes children out of their comfort zone and allows them to try out new hobbies and activities to discover new passions. Being active not only decreases your child’s odds of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression it may also boost the areas in the brain responsible for verbal memory and learning.

Reason #3

To learn social skills and make new friends. Camp offers a new and diverse group of kids for your child to interact with. Allowing them to build relationships within a new group teaches confidence. Camp also teaches children to communicate, work together as a team and how to be a leader.

Thoughts of summer camp bring back memories of lawn games, water fights and lasting friendships. What better way to provide your kids with fond summer memories of their own than to enroll them in an adventure-themed camp? Our camps will have them exploring underground delights, spending time on the water and rock and learning wilderness survival and nature lessons!

This summer Roanoke Parks and Recreation is offering two weeks of Outdoor Exploration Camp for children ages 8 to 10 and two weeks of Outdoor Venture Camp for ages 11 to 13. For older kids, ages 14 to 17, there is an exciting new addition of the Roanoke Rocks Climbing Camp.

A typical day of Exploration or Venture Camp includes hiking, rock climbing, caving, stand up paddleboarding, canoeing, lawn games, nature classes and wilderness survival. Adventurers arrive at our Norwich Center at 8:30 a.m. and shortly thereafter travel to the morning’s activity. Whether it’s hiking to a waterfall or learning about reptiles, all this fun is sure to make our explorers hungry for lunch. After lunch, campers will continue with the day’s activity, such as caving and water sports or venture off to the next destination which might include indoor rock climbing or an exciting orienteering and map reading class. The day’s excursion will come to an end once again at the Norwich Center where our adventure seekers are certain to be weary and ready to dream of the sites and critters they will encounter the next day.

Older campers will have an extraordinary opportunity in the Roanoke Rocks Climbing Camp. They will learn how to tie knots, set up anchors and belay other climbers as well as techniques for improving their rock skills! Climbers will visit a new crag or location each day with the highlight of the camp being an overnight trip to the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Here our crag hoppers will enjoy some of the best rock climbing in the country. This trip sounds like so much fun we may have to include one for “kids at heart” next summer!

Outdoor camp not for your kiddo? Roanoke Parks and Recreation offers everything from rugby and soccer camp to theater and Frozen camp. And don’t forget! Roanoke Parks and Recreation owns 70 parks and recreation centers that provide lots of free opportunities to play outside this summer! For more information or to sign up visit

Summer Youth B’ball at Melrose!

Hoop It Up

Roanoke City Council Member Sherman Lea recently announced a summer basketball program for youth. The Lea’s Youth Outdoor Basketball League is a partnership with the Roanoke Police Department’s Police Athletic Association, the Inner City Athletic League, and the community designed to strengthen relationships between our Police Department and our community. The five-week program for youth ages 11 to 18 will begin June 2.

Participants will play in refereed basketball games every Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Melrose Park. In addition, each week will include an event Council Member Lea has titled a Quality Moment. During this time, leaders from the community will speak to league participants about life-skills, having self-esteem, planning for a prosperous future, and making proper life choices.

None of this would be possible without sponsors from our community. Council Member Lea thanks Kelly Woolwine with the Life Ring Foundation for making a monetary investment in this program. Additional sponsors are needed. There is currently a $10 fee for children to participate in the league to cover expenses such as uniforms, water, and certified referees. Scholarships are available, however the goal is to make this program free to all children who want to participate. Anyone who wants to make a donation can make a check payable to the Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League. Donations can be mailed to:

Lea Youth Outdoor Basketball League
c/o Sherman Lea, Sr.
1638 Lonna Drive, NW
Roanoke, VA 24019

Roanoke Cuts the Leash, New Dog Park



Dog owners of Roanoke, listen up. The City of Roanoke will soon have a new “treat” for man’s (and woman’s) best friend. On Tuesday, April 14, at 11:45 a.m. Roanoke Parks and Recreation will cut the leash to open a new dog park in Thrasher Park. The ceremony will take place adjacent to the tennis courts in the park. The public is invited to bring their K-9 companions to take part in the inaugural play session immediately after the ribbon cutting.

The Thrasher dog park, similar to the one located in Highland Park, is the second of its kind created by the city as part of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan. According to Steve Buschor, Director of Parks and Recreation, the new Thrasher locale will have plenty of room for dogs to run and play.

“The Thrasher Dog Park is expansive and features one full acre of fenced-in, off-leash fun for dogs,” said Buschor. He also confirmed that both parks now feature mutt-mitt stations, a pet fountain, and designated areas for small and large dogs.

Alongside the pet-friendly aspects of these two parks, Buschor also praised the community aspect of the existing park, which was recently renovated to shift the large-dog area off the hillside and down to a more level area. “Through the original development of the Highland dog park, we discovered that these spaces are much more than just a place to let your dog run,” said Buschor. “These are truly pet-friendly locations for dogs and their owners to come together and socialize in a wonderful outdoor setting.”

As a nationally accredited agency, Roanoke Parks and Recreation strives to deliver parks, recreation facilities and activities that are attractive, accessible and provide memorable experiences that move the body, mind and emotions. For information about our best-in-class services and facilities, visit

Highland Dog Park Closed for Repair

Starting Monday March 30, 2015 the dog park in Highland Park will be closed for renovation and repair. The repairs will last approximately two weeks. These repairs should help create a better more sustainable dog park for all. In addition to the repairs to the Highland Dog Park Roanoke Parks and Recreation will soon be opening another dog park so be on the lookout for more details. We apologize in advance for any inconveniences.

Parks and Recreation Programs Cancelled on Feb. 20, 21 & 22

Due to continuous ill weather, here are out current cancelled programs and facility closings:

– All Athletics programs for the weekend are cancelled.
– Saturday’s Discovery Center Maple Tapping is cancelled.
– Mountain View will not have open hours on Friday.
– The Mill Mountain Discovery Center is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
– The Fleet Feet 100 Miler walk is cancelled.

And as a friendly reminder, if you have a 4-legged friend who resides outside, please bring them in for the night.

City and Schools Partner to Bring New Playground to Highland Park

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Roanoke, VA — The City of Roanoke and Roanoke City Public Schools (RCPS) will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 12:30 p.m. to celebrate the opening of a new playground in Highland Park. The ceremony will be open to the media and general public, and will take place at Highland Park directly across from Highland Park Elementary School. Students from Highland Park Elementary will be on site for the grand opening.

This playground is a cooperative effort between Roanoke Parks and Recreation and RCPS, and will serve as the main play area for the students at the Highland Park Elementary School, as well as for children in the neighborhood.

“Our partnership with the schools allowed us to build a playground that has a 25 percent greater play value than the previous play area,” said Steve Buschor, Director of Parks and Recreation. According to Buschor, the combined funding allowed planners to add better amenities to enhance the overall play experience. “It’s really a winning outcome for everyone because the school children get full use of this new area, and the community receives another wonderful amenity to this neighborhood park,” he added.

This project is just the beginning of larger playground replacement and renovation plan for city parks. The overall goal is to upgrade or replace eight more playgrounds by the end of 2015.

As a nationally accredited agency, Roanoke Parks and Recreation strives to deliver parks, recreation facilities and activities that are attractive, accessible and provide memorable experiences that move the body, mind and emotions. For information about our best-in-class services and facilities, visit


Elmwood Park Receives Award

Fountains at Night Elmwood LR


Roanoke, VA — Over 350 delegates from around the state gathered last week at the Annual Conference of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA. Highlighting each year’s conference is a formal presentation of awards, and Roanoke’s Elmwood Park won the Best New Renovation/Addition award.

The awards ceremony is a state-wide program that honors individuals, agencies and organizations throughout Virginia who have demonstrated excellence in several areas during the previous calendar year. Over ninety applications were received vying for awards in 13 different categories. “Entries in every population category, from around the state, allow us to recognize the best in our business while raising the standards and quality of programs, facilities and events in every region,” said VRPS President Art Thatcher.

Elmwood Award“We knew Elmwood Park was going to be a huge hit amongst our citizens, but it’s nice to receive such a prestigious award from our fellow peers as well,” said Steve Buschor, Roanoke’s Director of Parks and Recreation. “Winning this award just further solidifies all of the hard work our citizens and staff put in over the past several months to make Elmwood a prominent and vital part of downtown Roanoke,” he added.

The award submission focused on many key features of the new park including the 4,500 capacity amphitheater with its cascading grass terraces for seating and array of fountains that line the walkway and stage.

As a nationally accredited agency, Roanoke Parks and Recreation delivers best-in-class parks, recreation facilities, events and activities while providing memorable experiences that move the body, mind and emotions. For information about our services and facilities, visit


New Soccer Fields at Countryside Park

Roanoke, VA — Roanoke Star Soccer Club (RSSC), in conjunction with Roanoke Parks and Recreation will be hosting an inaugural “kick-off” to celebrate the upcoming development of the new soccer field complex at Countryside Park just off of Ranch Road. This event will take place on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m., and staff members from the RSSC will be joined by city officials as they all line up to take the first shot on goal.

Danny Beamer, Executive Director of RSSC, is extremely pleased to have the opportunity to add fields to the area. “Based on the number of players in the city, Roanoke definitely has a deficit of rectangular fields,” he said. In a lease agreement with the city, RSSC will construct and maintain the fields. “Our plan is to build five full-size, regulation fields that can transform into 11 junior fields,” he added. At this point the tentative date for completion is between fall of 2015 and spring of 2016.

According to Steve Buschor, Director of Parks and Recreation, these new fields will add to the overall popularity of the new Countryside Park that officially opened last January. “We’ve been amazed at the amount of visitors to this park. The new soccer fields will only bring more excitement to the playground, outdoor musical trail and shelter house that already exist at this location.” Alongside those amenities, Buschor added that there is also a small section of the Lick Run Greenway that travels through the park. “The planned layout includes three fields adjacent to Ranch Road with the remaining fields alongside Highland Farm Rd. and these two areas will be conveniently connected by the greenway,” said Buschor.

The inaugural kick-off for the Countryside fields will take place across the street from the playground at Countryside Park. The precise location can be found via Google Maps: 2350 Ranch Road NW, Roanoke, VA 24017.

As a nationally accredited agency, Roanoke Parks and Recreation strives to deliver parks, recreation facilities and activities that are attractive, accessible and provide memorable experiences that move the body, mind and emotions. For information about our best-in-class services and facilities, visit

We Made It: America’s Best Small Cities

Roanoke has officially landed on’s “America’s Best Small Cities on the Rise” list. The site mentioned many of the most noteworthy assets the city has to offer, including Elmwood Park’s brand new amphitheater, the newly renovated City Market Building and the spectacular views from the Center in the Square rooftop. The city’s easy access to the Appalachian Trail and proximity to the East Coast also added to the “loveability” factor of the Star City.

The Smarter Travel article was released just days following the unveiling of the Roanoke Valley as one of the “10 Best: Bike-friendly cities” according to USA Weekend, a sub-site of USA Today. Miles upon miles of scenic bike trails, along with the valley’s temperate climate were just two of the factors landing the Roanoke Valley on the list.

View the full Smarter Travel article here.
View the full USA Weekend article here.

Fleet Feet – Named Top Running Store in America!

Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke has been recognized by Competitor magazine and Running Insight trade magazine as one of The 50 Best Running Stores in America for 2013.

Every year, Competitor magazine and Running Insight trade magazine identify the “50 Best Running Stores in America.” It all started in July with runners nominating their favorite stores through Those stores are put through a rigorous evaluation process, which includes mystery shopping to assess customer service, credit ratings from vendors and assessments about local programs and community commitment.

The stores that rank among the 50 Best Running Stores in America are the ones that offer exemplary customer service, training programs and group runs. The stores provide knowledge and insights about the latest trends, the newest gear, proper running form and information about local races and trails. Additionally, stores can answer endless questions about racing, training and injury prevention. In other words, it’s a shop that goes out of its way to do everything for local runners, no matter what age, experience or ability.

Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke is locally-owned and operated by Blaine and Robin Lewis. The store opened in 2003 and was known as the “local running store.” That reputation quickly grew and the store has become known as the store for anyone wanting to live a healthy, active lifestyle; whether that means running, walking, or simply finding products to make a person feel better in their everyday life.

Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke is known in the community as the place to go to be “fitted” in quality footwear. Commitment and dedication to providing healthy solutions to customers is an important daily goal whether someone gets fitted for a pair of shoes, is provided fitness opportunities through the numerous training programs offered by Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke, or is provided advice and guidance about their fitness goals and activities.

Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke is located at 4347 Franklin Road in Roanoke. Learn more about Fleet Feet Sports online at or on Facebook (Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke).