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A campin’ we will go …

Region offers range of LGBT-welcoming summer kids’ programs



camps, gay news, Washington Blade
camps, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. kids can study art, swimming, dance, sports, technology, cooking, theater and more at the YMCA supper camp program. (Photo courtesy YMCA D.C.)

As the weather gets warmer, summer camps are already preparing for registering campers for their programs. Local camps are offering a wide range of programs from cooking and theater to sports and personal finance to satisfy any child’s interests and needs.

Beauvoir School (3500 Woodley Rd., N.W.) offers summer camp for children ages 3-10. Programs are organized by grade level. Rising pre-kindergarten students are Fireflies, rising kindergarten Blue Jays, rising first and second graders Box Turtles and rising third through fifth graders Brown Bears. Programs include cooking, gymnastics, swimming and Future Millionaires Bootcamp, a program that teaches personal finance, budgeting and how credit cards work. There is also a “Make Your Own Camp” option to combine various programs. There is also before and after camp care available. Prices vary depending on half or full day programs and session dates. For a list of sessions and prices, visit

Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., N.W.) has an acting conservatory for young actors ages 12-17. Its summer program is an all-day immersion. Morning classes focus on movement, voice and improvisation. Afternoon classes include monologues and scene study from contemporary and classical literature. There are two sessions with a final scene performance at the end of each session. Classes are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Cost is $865 for the first session and $925 for the second session. For more information, visit

The YMCA in D.C. offers wide range of camp programs for children of all ages. Art, aquatic, dance, sports, technology, cooking, theater and more are available. There are also specialty programs including beauty school, creative writing and gardening. YMCA also offers a day and overnight camp, Camp Letts (4003 Camp Letts Rd., Edgewater, Md.), for a more traditional camp experience. Kayaking, horseback riding and other activities are offered. For more details on specific programs and pricing visit and

DAR Museum (1776 D., N.W.) offers two history-focused five-day camps this summer. The first is Time Travelers, for children ages 9-12. The program teaches about figures of different cultures and genders who had roles during the American Revolution but are lesser known such as Native Americans, African Americans and European men and women who were poets, spies and more. Campers can be a spy for a day and compose poems with quill and ink as well as take trips to local museums. The second program, From Fiber to Fabric, is for children ages 11-14. It teaches about textiles from raw materials to the final product and teaches sewing among other skills. For more information, visit

Circle Yoga (3838 Northampton St., N.W.) has Budding Yogis Summer Camp for children. The camp includes mindful yoga and movement, crafts and creative arts, play at the park, group games, camp songs, relaxation and journaling. Campers ages 4-7 have a half-day camp from 9 a.m.-noon for $250 per week. Full day camp for campers ages 6-12 is from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and is $365 per week. For more details, visit

TIC Summer Camp has locations across the District, Maryland and Virginia area. Its programs focus on science and technology for children ages 7-15. Technology programs include robotics, filmmaking, digital arts, programming and more. There are also sports programs available such as basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, soccer and more. Each session is $825 with four sessions at each location. For more information, visit

Adventure Theatre has a summer musical theater camp for grades one to six  at its Glen Echo, Md., location and one for grades six-12 at its Rockville, Md. location. Campers have daily rehearsals in dancing, singing and acting using props and costumes. At the end of the program, there will be a performance for family and friends. Grades six-12 can choose from three courses of study in contemporary, Broadway revivals and Golden Age/MGM. Grades one-to-six sessions are $800 and grades six-12 sessions are $1,200. For more information, visit

Silver Stars Gymnastics has a Silver Spring (2701 Pittman Dr.) location and a Bowie (14201 Woodcliff Ct.) location. They offer programs for children ages 3 and a half-4, 5-7 and 8-15. There are full-day programs from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and half-day programs from 9 a.m.- noon. There are also extended morning programs from 8-8:30 a.m. and extended evenings from 4:30-6 p.m. The programs teach campers gymnastics basics such as cartwheels, jumps, tucks, twists and flips. Tuition ranges from $240-305 with extended sessions adding an additional $25-65. For more details, visit

The Lowell School (1640 Kalmia Rd., N.W.) has summer programs for children rising preschool, rising kindergarten, rising first and second grade, rising third-sixth grade and rising seventh through ninth grade. Younger campers can enjoy programs designed around self discovery and building social skills both outdoors and indoors. Older campers can explore the local city with the “Amazing Race” Game and also other areas with the Get Out! Trips Camp. There are both full-length camp sessions and mini camps. For a full list of sessions and prices, visit

Girls Rock! D.C. Camp, an LGBT-run and welcoming camp for budding girl musicians, hasn’t announced its 2015 dates but typically offers July sessions in Washington. Visit for more information.

Georgetown Day School (4530 MacArthur Blvd., N.W.) offers summer camp programs that range from traditional day camp activities to specialty programs such as performing arts, computer programming, science and more. Camps are for children ages 5-18. Specialty camps include Hopper Dance Camp for campers age 5-fifth grade, Science of Rollercoasters for rising third-eighth graders, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company Summer Intensive for Intermediate to Advanced Dancers for rising sixth-ninth graders, Intro to Discuss Camp for grades six through eight and many more. Prices and session times vary. For a complete list, visit

Green Acres School (11701 Danville Dr., North Bethesda, Md.) has various camp programs including Martial Arts, Kreative Kangaroos for rising pre-kindergarten students, Junior Camp for rising kindergarten through second grade students and Senior Camp for rising third-seventh grade students. Activities for each program vary but include cooking and baking, sports, games, bowling and much more. Pricing and session times also vary. For a complete tuition list and session times, visit

Although it’s not a traditional summer camp, Rainbow Families D.C. has several events throughout the summer including Adventure Theatre, various Pride events in June, Night Out with the Nationals in July and summer picnic in August as well as a camp weekend retreat in September. Details at

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Real Estate

Leather and lace in your home decor

From couches to countertops, add some flair



Leather isn’t just for couches anymore; you can find it in countertops and a wide range of décor.

When I was very young, I would visit my maternal grandmother and marvel at the hand-tatted and crocheted doilies that adorned the arms and backs of her sofa and chairs. They were also found on her dressers and side tables, and on the dining table as coasters and placemats, to prevent scratches on the furniture. Like snowflakes, the designs of the doilies were both intricate and individual.

I’m convinced that people had better posture in the early 20th century, because I never saw the remnants of men’s hair tonic, Macassar oil, or pomade on Nana’s doilies, even though they were there to keep the furniture from absorbing those hair products. Certainly, people weren’t the couch potatoes lounging on sofas then that we are today. Being able to Netflix and chill was a long way off.

I was impressed with the amount of work that had gone into such a little piece of fabric, so I later tried to learn to crochet. Sadly, all I was able to accomplish was string after string, never having been taught how to join those strings together to resemble a doily. At least with knitting, I was able to form squares large enough to be blankets for my Barbie.

In my mid-century childhood, doilies were put away and saved for grandchildren who, years later, would neither want them nor appreciate their historical value. The ‘50s saw polyvinyl chloride (PVC) go from a commercial substance used frequently in post-WWII construction to a residential fabric that we now refer to fondly as “pleather.” I can still remember the sound of my thighs peeling off the vinyl banquette at the diner when I would get up to leave a booth.

To be without a leather couch in the ‘60s was déclassé and, although styles have changed, such a couch remains a timeless piece. These days, if you are looking for a little more leather in your life and in your home, you can look beyond that couch and chair, where options range from the subdued to the highly decorative.

While vinyl is still the least expensive leather-look fabric, we now have “bonded” leather, made with scraps that are bonded together using polyurethane or latex. As you can tell from the prices of such furniture, the actual leather used in the process can vary from 10-90 percent.

Of course, top grain leather is the most expensive, and we have suede, die cut, embossed, patent, and a variety of other techniques used to change the look of a hide. In addition, there is now vegan leather.

For something unique for your kitchen or bar, check out the tooled leather countertop from Kosel Saddlery ( in Montana. They also make saddles and chaps.

Instead of the shiny granite counters that we all know, MSI Surfaces ( makes honed and leathered granite finishes for a more subtle appearance and has dealers throughout the DMV. 

For a do-it-yourself application, Amazon sells the Aspect brand eight-pack of leather glass, peel and stick subway tiles for backsplashes in five neutral colors for less than $20 each.

EcoDomo ( in Gaithersburg offers a variety of custom leather treatments, including countertops, door and cabinet panels, floor planks and tiles, and wall systems. Your color choices aren’t limited to black or brown either. They can manufacture pieces in blue, red, green, and even in custom colors to match other items in your décor.

Many online stores such as Wayfair and Overstock carry real and faux leather headboards, footstools, poufs and benches at affordable prices. 

There’s always something in leather at Pottery Barn, even for the conservative budget: pieced leather pillows, tufted stools, basket collections, and even a leather-bound coffee table book for cigar aficionados. 

If you’re looking for small accent pieces, try a leather coaster, placemat, napkin ring, or my personal favorite, a cutlery pouch for your tableware collection from Lucrin Geneva ( They also offer office accessories such as crocodile desk sets, wastebaskets and storage boxes.

And for the connoisseur of leather, vinyl, rubber, or even neoprene items of a more personal nature, head to the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency this Friday through Sunday for Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. With plenty of specialty items, high-impact fashion, toys and games for all ages and yes, even custom-made furniture among the vendor exhibitions, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.

Just remember that you (and your puppy) must both be vaccinated and masked to attend. We take COVID (and rabies) very seriously here in D.C.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate.  Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

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Winter Restaurant Week a welcome escape from the cold

Enjoy D.C.’s diverse culinary scene at great prices



KNEAD Hospitality + Design’s Gatsby is among the hotspots participating in this year’s RAMW Winter Restaurant Week. (Photo courtesy of KNEAD Hospitality + Design)

Saving Washington, D.C. diners from winter doldrums, RAMW Winter Restaurant Week is back in action. It returns Jan. 17-23 with the motto of “Dine Out. Take Out. Eat Up.”

The city’s signature winter dining event is back as a one-week promotion focused on dining out and tasting the city’s diverse culinary scene. Yet it also is providing diners with newer programs that they have grown to love over the past few cycles. These include the popular “RW-To-Go” takeout dinner meals, outdoor dining spaces, as well as cocktail pairings, allowing diners to take advantage of a range of indoor/outdoor comfort levels and dining opportunities.

Participating restaurants are set to offer multi-course brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person, and multi-course dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person for on-premises dining. Most are offering the traditional three-course meals, while others may include extras.

Many restaurants will also offer the RW-To-Go dinner meals, a program introduced in 2019, available at two price points: $70 or $100 for two people and $140 or $200 for four people.

More than 200 restaurants across the area are participating. 

“Our restaurants have shown resilience, creativity, and perseverance over the past two years, and they continue to count on the amazing support of loyal diners and newcomers through promotions like Restaurant Week,” said RAMW President & CEO Kathy Hollinger. “Designed to get diners out to experience all our great food scene has to offer, we have evolved this turnkey promotion to help meet diners where they are in terms of comfort. With offerings to include RW-To-Go, curbside pickup and delivery, heated patios, cozy igloos and indoor dining, there is truly something for anyone looking to support their favorite spot or try something new.”

New restaurants participating in Winter Restaurant Week include Ala, Bar Chinois, Bistro Du Jour, The Mayflower Club, Officina Cafe, Penny Royal Station, and Urban Roast in the District; Diabolo’s Cantina at MGM and Rosa Mexicano at National Harbor; North Italia Tysons; and the newest The Capital Grille location in Fairfax.

2021 RAMMYS Winners and finalists participating include Convivial, Cranes (also Michelin-starred), Espita, Estadio, iRicchi, and Sababa. 

In the 14th Street and Dupont Circle areas, popular participating restaurants include Agora, Cork, Duke’s, Floriana, and Sushi Taro, among others. 

Winter Restaurant Week also extends beyond core neighborhoods, stretching far past the city’s borders. Areas like Takoma Park and Bethesda in Maryland, and Alexandria and National Landing in Virginia, are also hosting participating restaurants. 

Some spots are offering additional deals, extended timelines, and other options. “I’m excited about the creativity of our local restaurants,” says Hollinger, “with their offers and spaces that give diners great experiences during the promotion, and the flexibility to dine in the way that works for them whether indoor, in heated outdoor dining spaces or at home with our Restaurant Week To-Go program.”

For example, Ambar (both the D.C. and Clarendon locales) will have a $70 seven-course to-go menu for two people. The deal includes a bottle of wine in addition to the food. 

Schlow Restaurant Group has a $40 gift card for more than three meals at any of its restaurants, including NAMA Sushi Bar and TICO in D.C. and Alta Strada Italian Restaurants in D.C. and Fairfax. 

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schlow says, “This is a great way for Restaurant Week diners to experience more of our menu offerings, and perhaps explore some of our restaurants they haven’t tried yet. Plus, with [our] Restaurant Week extended an additional week through Jan. 30, there’s ample time to dine.”

Gay-owned KNEAD Hospitality + Design group is involving all its restaurants in the promotion. The group’s restaurants include Gatsby, Mi Vida, The Grill, and more. Owner Jason Berry notes that he is “excited to participate in this year’s winter restaurant week. Each year Restaurant Week brings new diners to our doors to experience the creativity and talent our staff continues to showcase at our restaurants.”

Recall that the city has reinstated mask mandates for indoor spaces. In addition, On Jan. 15, 2022, per Mayor’s Order 2021-148, the District of Columbia adopts a citywide vaccination entry requirement that requires COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor facilities within the city. This includes restaurants and bars.

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Real Estate

What to know if you’re buying or selling in 2022

Research interest rates, contractors now before spring arrives



Spring will be here before you know it so prepare for buying and selling a home now.

The years 2020 and 2021 were wild on the books for real estate. Many successfully sold a house, bought a house, or sold a smaller residence and bought a larger one due to the new “needs” that they realized they had.  

After a year or more of staying home, working from home, dining out (at home), studying from home, many just realized they needed a different home than the one they were sitting in.  Many experts are saying that 2022 might be the year we go back to our “normal cycles” in real estate. If that is the case, then what does that mean?  

It means that right now, first time buyers can find deals on one- or two-bedroom condos that are sitting on the market, and the single family home market is going to be ramping up in the spring, when more buyers are out in the streets and more homes are getting ready to go on the market. So, if you are thinking of selling this year, you might already need to be calling painters, carpenters, and other contractors to do those little projects that make a home ready for photographs and to be shown in its best light. Now that the holidays are over, many of the contractors we hire start getting calls, and their schedules start to fill up. As a Compass agent, we have the “Concierge” program that helps sellers to finance, at zero interest, projects that spruce up their home, and then it gets paid back when the home sells. I know other brokerages have some similar programs, also. 

If you are going to buy a home this year, you might want to seriously look at how long homes have been sitting in the market in the neighborhoods that interest you. If the “days on market” are more than 20, 30, 40 or even 50 days, this might be your time to strike. Call a local lender or two and see what interest rate you can get and how much you can get approved for a loan. Interest rates could be going up this year, so you might want to get this done in the first half of the year, if your current situation allows.  

At any rate, if you are thinking of making a move this year, feel free to sign up for one of my homebuyer seminars, or give me (or your favorite Realtor) a call and find out what you need to do to get ready to make this move.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at [email protected] or 703-587-0597.

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