From the beginning, MyKingstonKids has focused on one goal: making Kingston a great place for children. It’s turned out to be a popular mission. “We just hit our sixth year, and it’s going fantastic,” says Executive Director Frank Waters. “We’ve been growing rapidly since we started and we haven’t stopped yet. We’re still moving along. Things are getting done. We just created another new project—new opportunities are always landing here for us. Luckily, we’re able to accept them and prosper with the organization as we move forward. So we’re very excited to be in a good place right now.”
From the beginning, the idea included not just creating original programming but building a resource center where families could find everything cool that’s going on, and a glance at MyKK’s Events List makes it clear that they’re excelling in that—and also, that there is a lot more going on than you’d expect. Summer jobs, youth empowerment, free movies, ultimate frisbee, Legos, farm camps, art camps, math afternoons, turtle parties, trips to the sugar bush. It’s all here, easy to find on the website or on the MyKK mobile app.
Part of the MyKK recipe for success is their focus on what kids actually love. “We’ve just acquired a gaming trailer,” says Waters, “a 24 foot tractor trailer that includes video games, screens, seating, and activities for kids—actually, anybody—to come in and be able to play and be entertained in a comfy indoor space. And it’s mobile, so we’re able to bring it to different events and festivals, and I think it’s going to become an integral entertainment component for the community.”
This spring, kids aged 10-17 can spend relaxing evenings at Lights On!, a MyKK event held in partnership with the Ulster County Human Rights Commission that brings together virtual reality, sports, cooking and baking, arts, weightlifting, financial education and a long list of social clubs at Kingston High School each Friday night for some safe, free fun.
On Saturday May 22, MyKingstonKids will be hosting its sixth annual KidsFest. “We’re partnering with the Maritime Museum for this year’s theme, Land of Water,” says Waters. “So we’re bringing a variety of different concepts, from mermaids to canoeing and boating education, from spiritual aspects to nutrition. We’re connecting with organizations that work on water conservation and environmental issues. We’re bringing in a wide variety of organizations with all kinds of different perspectives.”
This summer, MyKK is launching a summer camp in partnership with the Ashokan Center. “It’ll be an incredible five-week camp where kids will learn woodshop and metalsmithing and agriculture, learn about the water and enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities,” says Waters. “It’s free for 40 kids, and there’s free transportation.”
Thanks to a grant, MyKK is bringing the Bindlestiff Circus back to town for a July 7 performance. “We’re partnering with the city’s Parks and Rec department on that one, and tying it in with the Children’s Day parade, so families can come to the circus after the parade. It’s a great, old-time circus with acrobats, tightrope walkers, clowns and jugglers, world-class performances—and everything’s translated into multiple languages, including sign.” Also in July will be the first-ever Children’s Gala. “Our kids grow up watching their adults dress up and attend Galas, so we decided to host one for the children,” says Waters. “Their turn to get fancy.”
Waters says the Hudson Valley Current fits neatly into MyKK’s activities. “Besides eating at Tilda’s, which is bliss, we use Currents to purchase ads in Spanish in La Voz, and having that bilingual platform has really opened up levels of diversity within the organization.” Planning a kids party? Family gathering? MyKK has what you need: fourteen virtual reality headsets, VR art programs, state-of-the-art indoor/outdoor laser tag equipment, and DJ Frankie Bones, who plays music that’s both kid-friendly and cool enough for anyone. Rental fees help support MyKK’s free programs and festivities.
So here it is, your shortcut to legend status with the kids in your life: Download the MyKK mobile app, your one-stop shop for making lifelong family memories.