Chatham is a great place for children, and during the summer months there is plenty beyond the beach for visitors and residents of all ages to do. In the following article, we highlight seven kid-friendly adventures for a week of family fun.By Lisa Cavanaugh | Photography by Michael and Suz Karchmer
Chatham Anglers Baseball Clinics
Kids from 6 to 17 can learn baseball basics from professional athletes at the Youth Baseball Clinics run by the Chatham Anglers. Running concurrently with the summer baseball season, the clinics are available to boys and girls of all talent levels in three different age groups. Families can sign up their children on a weekly basis by visiting the registration table at Veterans Field on Monday mornings during the season. Steve West, president of the Chatham Athletic Association, which manages the team franchise and operates the clinics, says many kids come back year after year and it becomes an important part of their summer routine. “We thought it would be an excellent way for boys and girls to become interested in baseball, for the team to generate fan interest and to provide some income for our nonprofit organization,” says West. The players that volunteer to participate enjoy the camaraderie and interacting with the Chatham community. “It really connects the players to the kids and the little ones can be pretty star struck,” says West. Many former Anglers have made it to the big leagues, including Evan Longoria, Kris Bryant and Mike Lowell.
Chatham Orpheum Theater
Everyone knows how Cape Cod cabin fever can kick in when rain is in the forecast, but the Chatham Orpheum Theater has a great anecdote to inclement weather. This historic 1915 theater, which was dark from 1987 until its grand reopening as a nonprofit cinema in 2013, has Rainy Day Matinees throughout the summer months. During July and August, on days when the sun isn’t shining, the theater hosts special screenings at 10 a.m. for $5 per person. Sign up for alerts and receive an email on rainy days by 8 a.m. with the title of that day’s featured movie (or you can check what’s playing on the Orpheum’s Facebook page). Past Rainy Day Matinee movies have included favorites like “Surf’s Up” and “Despicable Me.”
Magic by the Sea
After seven seasons of illusionary fun, the magic is still going strong at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Chatham. Each summer, local Cape magician Richard Archer and company present a weekly show to entertain and astound kids of all ages. “The Amazing Richard” consistently draws big crowds each year. Archer, who learned stagecraft and theatrical special effects at Barnstable High School and UMass, has been studying, performing and teaching magic for more than 30 years. He uses his unique combination of theatrical skills to create inventive and comedic magic presentations. All tickets are $10 and are sold in the UUMH Thrift Shop and at the door one hour prior to each performance.
Creative Arts Center
Your child’s inner artist has a chance to come out at the family friendly Creative Arts Center on Crowell Road. Executive director Angela Zoni Mault and her staff welcome young people to drop in for workshops or sign up for weekly classes in pottery, painting, drawing and more. Families can enroll their child for a summer of art instruction or bring them by for two hours of creative fun with qualified instructors and children their own age. “Kids are so free about expressing themselves,” says Zoni Mault. “They aren’t afraid of putting their mark on paper.” She adds that even if art isn’t their regular interest, most kids love to make things, especially in the center’s extensive pottery studio. “The children who come here each summer have a great time. It is a relaxed experience, but they are still serious about their work.” She feels art is very important to the Chatham community and with exhibitions, classes and open gallery hours, the Creative Arts Center has something for everyone.
Eldredge Public Library
Escape the summer heat and duck into the cool interior of this venerable brick building, which opened in 1896 as a gift to the people of Chatham from one of its native sons, Marcellus Eldredge. The library has an abundance of after-school and vacation-time activities for children, including story hours, playgroups, “crafternoons,” drama workshops and “Itsy Bitsy” yoga classes. The Eldredge Library also takes part in the Statewide Summer Reading Adventure to help kids enjoy the excitement of reading throughout the summer months. You can drop in for some activities, but others require registration, so check the library’s website for more information.
We humans aren’t the only ones who love the ocean and beaches of Cape Cod. Thousands of grey seals have made the shores around Chatham their home, and you can get a closer look at these protected marine mammals on board a seal watch boat. The bright yellow Beachcomber boats ply the picturesque waters of Chatham and offer thrilling seal tours in Pleasant Bay and through Chatham Harbor waterways between North Beach, Chatham Light and the break. All Beachcomber captains are U.S. Coast Guard-licensed masters and the boats are Coast Guard inspected. Family members from every age group are welcome aboard, and seal tours last one and a half hours. Trips begin on an occasional basis in June and a set schedule starts in July. Please call or visit the website for more information about setting sail to meet some of Chatham’s wilder residents.
Chatham Shark Center
A week in Chatham wouldn’t be complete without a shark encounter. Great whites have been visiting Chatham’s shores in significant numbers since 2009, and while it might be exciting to actually spot one in the water, the best opportunity to learn about these incredible fish is at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Chatham Shark Center. Marianne Long, the education director for AWSC, says a visit to the Shark Center is a chance for children and adults to engage in shark-centric activities and build an understanding about these apex predators, which are key to the ocean food chain. “This is our outreach facility,“ she says, “and our goal is to alter the public perception of sharks.” There are educational shark-themed games on the front lawn and an interactive exhibit hall inside, which allows guests to tangibly investigate shark biology and ongoing shark research. There is an up-to-date tote board of local shark activity and a 360-degree, virtual-reality exhibit, in which you don a headset and “dive” peacefully with sharks. “We are here to be a resource for families,” says Long. “Kids are generally excited about learning about sharks. Some come to the center dressed head to toe in shark gear—it is so awesome!” Check the website for summer hours, the cost is $5 a person and children under five are free.