Summer Fun for Families

May 15, 2019

Written by Rachel McCoy | Photography by Pat Evenson


DEFINITION: Full of excitement. Willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences.

School’s out soon in St. Joseph, and it means the fun is just beginning. There’s a whole new list of adventures just waiting for local kids and families … and we’re not talking a short list. This is a big, creative, inspiring and action-packed list. We’re talking a lot of stuff for a mid-size town. Thanks to two local resources, families can choose from dozens of day camps, workshops, events, special deals and experiences for summer that truly are unique to St. Joseph.

Locally-operated Fun for St. Joe Kids and Joe Town Fun are the one-stop shops for kids and families of all ages and interests, with both resources offering information all summer long. Each resource is free to use, and both continue to offer up-to-date details for summer adventures in St. Joseph.

If you haven’t taken a minute to browse and follow, here’s a snapshot of what’s waiting for you…

Fun for St. Joe Kids – Available on Facebook and as a website, this resource is centered around activities and events for local children. The Event Calendar helps families stay informed about everything from parent-child educational events, sports camps and clinic registrations, theater events for kids and events happening with the arts. There’s even a listing of places offering deals on food and entertainment, and sections for “Rainy Day” fun, upcoming fairs and festivals and clubs and organizations for kids to develop their interests and talents.

Fun for St. Joe Kids founder Ashley Dawson says the initiative started out as a comprehensive calendar to help list daily events around town so that families could plan their week. The project has grown significantly in informational depth since then. “I work really hard to keep the website updated with current resources for families in and around St. Joe, and I use Facebook to promote events and share other information I think families will be interested in. Our summer camps link and our other seasonal information has been really popular. Fall and winter means we can share pumpkin patch information and trunk or treat events – and winter of course is full of cookie decorating events and Santa sightings.”

Under the “Summer” section on the website is an exhaustive list of day camps and clinics arranged by type (sports, arts, STEAM, theater, art, etc.) – with each one linked to the source of the camp or clinic. All it takes is one look to see that summer in St. Joseph is imaginative, active and an open door to enrichment. (No detail has been overlooked. There’s even a local Vacation Bible School Directory.)

“It’s all about what’s happening right here in St. Joe. I don’t want families to think they have to go anywhere to provide their kids with fun and educational opportunities, because our town has so much to offer,” says Dawson.

Parents and kids can scroll camps by each month, including popular and long-standing camps like Missouri Western Sports Academy, Safety Town, ArtScape, emPowerU STEAM camps, Pony Express Museum Camp and several children’s theater options. And then there are the opportunities that could be a new favorite for your family, like the Summer Youth Tennis Program. Or Junior Golf Camp. And Lanham Rock Music Camp – a decades-old tradition.

Joe Town Fun – You’ll be equally delighted by a browse on Joe Town Fun’s detailed Facebook page. It’s a large and very active community of information for families to enjoy quality time together. Comments from page users seems to sum it up: “What an awesome resource for families in the St. Joseph area! A comprehensive list of everything to do and all the events. Thank you for working hard on this for us!,” and simply, “You rock!”

Joe Town Fun founder Ashley Strueby started the initiative in 2013. “I saw a need for resources in our community that shared things to do for families. I love connecting people and researching, so it seemed natural for me to put it into action,” she says.

Joe Town Fun captures so many of the local events that continue to make St Joseph unique for its size. A browse of posts shows you educational events, parent-child events, play groups and meet-ups from every corner of town. The depth and variety is quite impressive; everything from conservation and nature events, to Parents as Teachers, church and community happenings and local favorites like performances by Will Stuck or concerts where kids and families are more than welcome.

“I had a preschooler at the time I started Joe Town Fun, and I was always on the hunt for educational things to do with her. I wanted to share that information with others, so I did. It’s been a popular thing on Facebook ever since!” says Strueby.

There are giveaways featuring local businesses, one-time events like Parents Night Out, workshops and block parties, and even friendly reminders of things like Parties on the Parkway, where kids can get their groove on in the fresh air. With interaction from the large social media audience, it’s a must-see resource that can always answer the question “What do you want to do with the kids this weekend?” (Or, what do you want to do this weekend without them!)

Both Fun for St. Joe Kids and Joe Town Fun share a common thread of local community and a strong appreciation for what’s around. Both remind us and everyone that visits St. Joseph loves its families, music, food, trails, art, sports and educational opportunities. Today, we appreciate the people and resources who continue to find and organize all this information all in one spot. On behalf of the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and local organizations everywhere who take part, we share a big thank you.

And, here’s to your best (and most uncommon) summer yet.


Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, this architectural feat, designed by esteemed local architects Eckel and Mann, is getting a second life thanks to a $20 million shot in the arm from Mosaic Life Care.


In addition to its paved walking paths, the Parkway features miles of rugged biking and hiking trails and serves as a red carpet to some of St. Joseph’s most interesting places.


There’s a lot to love about St. Joseph’s Southside. This tight-knit community is on pace for a major comeback.


Not only does the SBTDC help hundreds of small business owners capitalize on their dreams, it is a great example of how government agencies, higher education, and nonprofit organizations can work together for the greater good.


Games of chance and dining establishments have been a part of St. Joseph, Missouri’s uncommon character since the earliest settlers gathered to let off some steam and gamble on optimistic odds.