The ups and downs of riding on elevators with dogs

(May 1, 2019)

By Jon Cohn

Let’s talk for a minute about man’s best friend. No, not the cell phone, but instead our beloved fine, furry, fluffy friends.

We all know dogs are part of the neighborhood scene in Chicago. Most love the idea. The unique connection of man and dog goes without saying. Who amongst us hasn’t reached out at times to pet a nearby stranger’s dog?

But, we have to be respectful of the fact that not everyone shares this close connection with dogs. Especially when it comes to riding the elevator.

So we offer some quick friendly reminders for dog owners when their beloved pets are joined by other passengers in a sometimes very-close-to-each-other elevator ride:

Try and keep your dog sitting, and as far from the other riders personal space as possible. If Mr. or Mrs.  Elevator Stranger asks about the dog or wants to pet it, be as open as you (and your dog) feel comfortable.

When the elevator door opens, and this requires a little reading of the body language of the other riders, let them go out first. Most will signal you with your dog to go first—but just in case, be ready to step back.

Of course no sniffing, barking or worse yet growling—from you or your pet. Those go without saying and are the trademarks of a well trained dog (or well trained owner).

The issue while insignificant to some, can, in fact,  be problematic for others.

“There are definitely a few people in our building who are terrified when they get on the elevator and there is a large dog, said Harbor Point resident Monica, who is not a dog owner. “Sometimes even the small dogs are afraid!”

Aqua building manager Alana said, “We have no written policy about dogs riding on elevators, and really in my years here we have had very few complaints.”

Bottom line, gang? We are all in this together. Strangers, often thrown together for a brief moment in time.

With a little common sense and basic respect we can all enjoy the ride down to the ground floor, and that includes man’s best friend.

Summer fun for all: Parents have plenty to choose from in local summer camps

(Published by April 29, 2019)

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

With summer around the corner, schools, museums and even watersport companies are offering summer camps for kids.

At Camp GEMS, kids can explore the city through a six-week program that mimics the school’s curriculum, although the program is open to all kids, even non-students. Through the camp, kids explore the whole city and the build and design the city features. Each week is $475 or $2,700 for six weeks. Camp Gems is open to kids 3-12.

Taneal Sanders, a GEMS teacher, said Camp GEMS aims to benefit the entire student.

“We focus on keeping the kids’ minds and bodies active,” she said.

Each week has a different theme, and students learn lessons based on each theme. The first week is “who we are,” the second weeks is “where are we in place and time,” the third week is “how we organize ourselves, the fourth week is, “how the world works,” the fifth week is “sharing the planet” and the final week is “how we express ourselves.”

Throughout the camp, kids explore the city, design model cities, visit a theater and visit various markets and festivals in the city.

“On Fridays, we do a share-out where all age groups come together and we kind of have a little assembly where we share what we learned during the week,” Sanders said.  

Last year, kids took a water taxi to Chinatown and on another day they visited the Field Museum.

“We don’t just stay right in the neighborhood,” Sanders said. “With the younger campers, we stay close to school, but for the older kids, we venture out on public transportation.”

In addition to the cultural diversity, Sanders said Camp GEMS is staffed by GEMS teachers and the ratio is five students to one teacher, ensuring the kids are learning as well as enjoying the city.

“It’s not just for GEMS students,” Sanders said. “We love that it brings in different people and different perspectives.”

A variety of other day and week camps are available for kids.

Sailing and STEM camp

The Chicago Park District is hosting its annual sailing and STEM camp in May, June and July.

Kids can learn to sail at Monroe Harbor, with no experience necessary. The camp is for 5th-8th grade students in Chicago and it requires a $250 donation, though low-income applicants can get in free. To apply for a spot, visit endeavourchicago.org.

The four day-sessions (Monday-Thursday) go beyond  sailing. Students will learn science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The course opens May 4 and meets every Saturday at 9 a.m. A June camp runs from June 24 to Aug. 1.

Visit EndeavourChicago.org for more details and to apply online. Scholarships are available.

Urban Kayaks paddle and kayak camp

Urban Kayaks summer paddle and kayak camp kicks off July 29. The camp runs weekly from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is aimed at kids ages 10 to 16. The course, at $550 per week with a 25 percent discount for siblings, is located at Monroe Harbor. For more information, visit urbankayaks.com or call 312-965-0035

Navy Pier’s Wiggleworms music program

While not a camp, Navy Pier is again hosting Wiggleworms, a free music program for children every Friday beginning June 21.

Wiggleworms, Old Town School of Folk Music’s early childhood music program, introduces young children and their families to a musical world. The program is at the Polk Brothers Park stage and it runs Fridays from 10 to 11:45 a.m.