Submitted by Bari Freeman, Executive Director of Bike Newport
After a successful mid-pandemic launch in the summer of 2020, Bike Newport’s Summer Bike Camp returns this season for twice as long, for twice as many kids, and with the generous support of Newport Hospital’s “Powered by Prince” fund, fueled by the Frederick H Prince Memorial Endowment, and the RI Department of Transportation Division of Highway Safety.
Summer Bike Camp offers full-day cost-free week-long programs to local children, ages 8-13, helping young people to incorporate fun and safe bicycling into their daily lives. Campers ride trails, practice bike mechanics, and learn the rules of the road – applying it all to fun group outings every day. This summer, bike activities will be complemented by various other activities, including gardening, hiking, birding, and art projects.
Camper Ayla Tripler had a great time in the pilot year. “Kids should come to Bike Camp because they’ll make lots of new friends, including the counselors. You get to learn about riding a bike with gears, change a flat tire and how to put on a helmet properly. I had so much fun!”
Camp Director and Bike Newport’s Director of Education, Clare Woodhead, shared the plan, “The campers will have a great time riding and getting greasy with us – they’ll gain knowledge, confidence, and new friends – and they’ll all end the summer with their own bike and safety equipment. These kids learn advanced bike handling skills, and how to be predictable and visible. It’s wonderful for freedom as well as safety and self-esteem. Last year was a stunning success. We are so excited to be up and running again – for even more kids thanks to so many people in the community, and our friends at Powered by Prince and RIDOT.”
Campers will practice many real-life riding scenarios – scanning, signaling, stopping, and dismounting, as well as how to avoid hazards and crashes. They learn basic bike repair, and how to keep their bikes safe, secure and in good working order. Counselors are certified bike instructors, and there is always a Spanish speaking counselor on staff.
Summer Bike Camp meets at the Big Blue Bike Barn campus, located on Sunset Blvd in Newport. Here, the campers have sheltered program space, tools and equipment, paved and unpaved riding paths, and gardens galore. The community gardens are planted and maintained in partnership with Aquidneck Community Table, who will be teaching garden and food-growing to the campers. This combination of bikes and gardens is modeled on the program in place at The Red Shed Bike Camp in Olneyville. Bicycle educators from the Red Shed and their parent organization, Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, have been instrumental in the formation of the Summer Bike Camp at Newport’s Bike Barn.
The six one-week sessions will run from July 6-August 13. Primarily co-ed mixed age sessions, one of the weeks is dedicated to LGBTQIA+ young people – promising a welcoming, supportive, safe and bike-happy environment. Another week is for girls, including trans girls; “Gretchen’s Blooms Bike Camp for Girls” is eponymously named for Gretchen Bloom, a long-time friend of Bike Newport who dedicated her life to women and girls all over the world and passed away in 2020.
Please register as soon as possible! Campers can register in English or Spanish online at bikenewportri.org/bikecamp or pick up a paper application form at Bike Newport 62 Broadway, Newport. Bikes and helmets are provided during camp, and every participant earns their own bicycle, helmet and repair kit at the end of their session.
Camp is offered free of charge thanks to underwriting by Powered by Prince, RIDOT Division of Highway Safety, and other generous supporters. Camper families and the general public have the opportunity to contribute as they can and as they wish at bikenewportri.org/donate.
If you have questions about Summer Bike Camp, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (401) 619-4900.