Though the start of the 2017-18 school year on Aug. 16 is still a few weeks away, the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department is offering programs to help students get ready.

Sixth-Grade Camp Adventure Week will be held the first week of August, while the fifth annual Splish, Splash and Dash Youth Triathlon will take place Aug. 19.

The department is also accepting registrations for its Before and After Care program, which provides supervised activities for students before and after school.

The Sixth-Grade Camp Adventure Week is designed as a bonding experience for the first class of students who will attend sixth grade at Bexley Middle School rather than at Cassingham, Maryland or Montrose elementary schools, said Michael Price, recreation director.

"It's a great opportunity for kids from the three different elementary schools to build those relationships and get to know each other," he said.

Sixth-Grade Camp Adventure Week will be similar to the summer-long Camp Adventure for students entering grades 7-9, Price said.

"The structure's going to be the same in that they're going on three field trips the week of Aug. 1 -- Cedar Point, ziplining at the Hocking Hills and they'll also have a campout here at Jeffrey Park," he said.

Since the locations that participants will be visiting don't have space limits, the program can accommodate as many Bexley sixth-graders who choose to sign up, Price said.

"We're looking at doing it every year if the interest is there," he said.

The Splish, Splash and Dash Youth Triathlon has become an annual rite of passage for students as they begin a new school year, Price said.

"We want to tie it to the start of the school year," he said. "It's always going to be the Saturday after school starts to kick off (a theme of) school's back in, let's get back to being active, staying active and staying healthy."

The triathlon drew 325 student participants last year, and participation has increased since the event began in 2013, said Natalie Mullin, recreation supervisor.

"With it being a smaller community, word of mouth always helps our programs," Mullin said. "Someone says, 'Are you signed up for the triathlon?' or they're hearing about everybody doing it."

The triathlon includes swimming, biking and a running course. The courses will have varying distances for each age division, ranging from under 6 to 14 years old. Participants swim laps at the David H. Madison Community Pool, ride bicycles through the streets of north Bexley and finish with a run through Jeffrey Park.

All children receive participation medals and the top three finishers in each age group receive trophies. The school with the most participants will be declared the winner of the School Challenge and receive a trophy to display throughout the year.

To help build endurance and enthusiasm for the triathlon, the Recreation and Parks Department offers a training program in the weeks leading up to the event.

"During the course of the summer, they (children) go on more bike rides or they go to the pool and they do more laps," Price said. "It usually happens as a family."

For more information and registration for any of these programs, visit bexley.org/recreation.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews