Park and Planning's special facilities are also a major draw. They include the Fairland Batting Cages in Laurel; the Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Center in Palmer Park; the disc golf course at Paint Branch Parkway Community Center in College Park; and the Watkins Miniature Golf Course in Upper Marlboro. The commission operates three public golf courses: Enterprise, in Mitchellville; Henson Creek, in Fort Washington; and Paint Branch, in College Park. For young linksters, there's the Prince George's County First Tee Youth Golf Training Center at Kentland Community Center in Landover. The county also operates three ice skating rinks: Herbert W. Wells Ice Rink in College Park, which is seasonal; and the year-round Tucker Road Ice Rink in Fort Washington and the Gardens Ice House in Laurel.
Officials attribute the vast array of offerings to input from recreation center volunteers, residents and members of the local recreation councils, and volunteers who approach the commission about programs. Most of the programs are offered by instructors well-versed in the particular area; the commission does not employ full-time staff as teachers.
Collin Rager takes an autumn walk with his uncle Bobby Rager on one of the many bicycle paths in Prince George's County, this one along Decatur Road in West Lanham Hills.
(Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Po St)
For example, Kellstrom said, a computer expert who lives near the Beltsville Community Center asked to convert a closet in the facility into a computer lab. He and another volunteer used their contacts to get used computer equipment for the facility, Kellstrom said. The man now teaches computer classes to center patrons and commission staff members.
"That is an example of volunteers coming out to promote a program," he said.
The commission offers several programs to promote healthy living. Each community center has health and fitness classes; the selections vary by location. They include fitness classes for children as young as 7; fitness, nutrition and Tae Bo classes for teens; and kickboxing for young adults.
Last year, the commission staff offered a health-awareness camp for youngsters. The children were given a baseline assessment by a staff member who had been trained in the program, part of the national Hearts and Parks Program. The children were then given instruction on health and fitness. At the conclusion of the camp, they were retested to gauge how much they had learned. "There was a dramatic increase in their knowledge," Kellstrom said.
But the most fun activities may be the special events at the historic sites. Upcoming special events include the Montpelier Folk and Blues Series, where $60 will buy a set of tickets to see Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group on May 6; Richie Havens on May 20; Frank Schwartz, Teresa Whitaker and Mac Walter on May 27; and T-Model Ford, an expert in Mississippi Delta blues, on June 3. Publick Playhouse performances include the Dallas Black Dance Theatre on Saturday, "The Wizard of Oz" on May 18, and a piano concert featuring 11-year-old wunderkind Wesley Chu on June 3.
Juanita Moore, program specialist at the Tucker Road Community Center in Fort Washington, said the center offers something for all ages. The center is holding a remote-control airplane modeling workshop April 30, a lead-in to a class to begin in the fall. "We are targeting it as a family activity," Moore said. "The instructor will discuss the different types of airplanes used for modeling and how to put together a basic remote system. This is a great father-son activity, as well."
Other upcoming events include a hand-dance social from 8 p.m. to midnight May 21, with DJ Leroy Green, the center's hand-dance instructor. There will be a dance demonstration and a party.
For parents, there is a Baby Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 7, where parents can bring their children's old toys and clothes. Registration for a table to sell items is $10. Registration will close May 6. Summer programs include a classic car show June 11. The center's annual Community Day celebration will include a live concert featuring the Internationals II, an oldies singing group, and Deon Clark and the Clean Cut Band. Tickets for the concert are $5. Call Tucker Road at 301-248-4404 for more information on the car show and to register a vehicle for display.
Local museums include the College Park Aviation Museum, a 27,000-square-foot facility with interactive exhibitions and animatronics; Marietta House Museum in Glenn Dale, built in 1813 by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Duvall and the headquarters of the Prince George's County Historical Society; and the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, a former home, tavern and hotel where John Wilkes Booth stopped as he ran from federal authorities after shooting President Abraham Lincoln.
Special attractions include the Old Maryland Farm at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, where children can take hayrides, pony rides and learn how to milk a cow; the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, which offers public pier fishing and canoe, kayak and rowboat rentals on weekends beginning in the spring; and the Patuxent River 4-H Center in Upper Marlboro, which features environmental education programs and group camping.
For information on Park and Planning offerings in Prince George's County, go to www.pgparks.com or call 301-699-2407 or TTY 301-699-2544.