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Summer Guide: Improve

Summer Guide: Improve
June 2016
School’s out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop new hobbies, take your skills to the next level, or get involved in the community. Here’s a roundup of possibilities for every interest. A brighter, better summer starts now

Athlete:  The city’s Charleston Tennis Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and the courts are open for hourly play ($3.50/hour for Charleston residents); weekday summer camp for kids ($25/day); and adult beginners’ clinics on Wednesday evenings ($15). 19 Farmfield Ave., West Ashley. (843) 769-8258,

Artist: Sooner or later, Charleston inspires creativity in all of us. Get those sketches and paintings on paper at the just reopened Gibbes Museum of Art. Classes like Drawing at Your Own Level ($90, $80 member) and Watercolor Made Easy ($120, $100 member) are among the summer lineup for teens and adults. Art camps for kids are also available. 135 Meeting St. (843) 722-2706,

History Buff: From Folly, take a road less traveled by turning left just after the Wappoo drawbridge. You’ll soon be immersed in James Island history—including Sea Island cotton, the Civil War, and Gullah culture. Opened in 2015, McLeod Plantation Historic Site offers several 45-minute guided tours on Tuesdays through Sundays at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. 325 Country Club Dr., James Island. Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $10; $6 children under 13. (843) 762-9514,

Yogi: A rising full moon will bring extra glow for yoga poses on the beach on June 23. That night, up to 200 participants may join in Starlight Yoga at Folly Beach County Park. Look for additional yoga programs offered through the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission. 1100 W. Ashley Ave., Folly Beach. Thursday, 7:30-8:30 p.m. $8; $5 resident; free for Move IT! members. Registration required. (843) 795-4386,

Gourmand: Lighten summer cooking with a few kitchen tips from the pros at Southern Season. Demos and tastings in the cooking school this month focus on sushi ($50), picnics ($30), summer sauces ($50), and wine-and-seafood pairing ($45). 730 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant. (843) 416-3960,

Maker:  Join the Sweetgrass Basket Weaving Workshop at The Charleston Museum on June 11, and learn from Sarah Edwards-Hammond, whose family has passed down the Gullah basket-making tradition for generations. 360 Meeting St. Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $60; $45 member. (843) 722-2996,

Tri-er: The Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series (June 19, July 10, July 31, and August 14) at James Island County Park features a 600-yard freshwater swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 5K flat run. $60 per race, discounts for the series and residents. (843) 762-2172,

DIY-er: For all two-wheeler fans out there, Affordabike hosts “Tech Tuesdays,” a free monthly bike maintenance course on the final Tuesday of each month. 573 King St. (843) 789-3281,

Literati: Step up to the open mic at two regular poetry nights on the peninsula. On the second Thursday of each month (June 9, July 14, and August 11), The Unspoken Word presents Poetry Nights at Elliotborough Mini Bar. 18 Percy St. Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Free. And every week, East Bay Meeting House hosts Monday Night Poetry & Music, with a featured show followed by open mic. 160 E. Bay St. Monday, 8 p.m. (843) 723-3446,

Give Back: Use those extra daylight hours to volunteer or send a donation when Charleston-area charities may need it most. Some ideas and opportunities:

Environment: Help with plantings or events as a Park Angel of the Charleston Parks Conservancy:

Shelter: To rehouse people who have become homeless in Charleston, donate to One80Place, the city’s shelter and community lunch kitchen at 35 Walnut Street:

Community: Add to the Lowcountry Unity Fund at the Coastal Community Foundation—established in response to last summer’s tragedy at Mother Emanuel AME Church to support long-term solutions for racism and economic inequality:

Art: Admission is free at Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at 161 Calhoun Street. Stop by, look around, and support thought-provoking art in Charleston by becoming a member:

Get: Beach Reads
Action, possession, family drama, and lifestyles of the one percent—take your pick among these new releases from authors with local connections


Ghosts of War by Brad Taylor (Dutton, June 2016, $27)
There will be no napping with this thriller in hand, not with an impending World War. In this 10th installment of The New York Times best-selling Pike Logan series, local author and retired Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel Brad Taylor delivers riveting action and intrigue once again, only this time, trading the backdrop of tumult in the Middle East for Eastern Europe and vestiges of the Iron Curtain. Adding to the suspense, Logan’s extralegal counter-terrorism unit, Taskforce, is on stand-down from the highest office, and the protagonist finds himself operating even further outside the law.

A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, May 2016, $16)
If you gobbled up the first three books in Monroe’s A Lowcountry Summer series, you’ll want to put this final installment at the top of your beach-read list. (Didn’t delve into the others? No worries, Monroe weaves the backstory into the plot.) All three sisters have again gathered at their Mamaw Muir’s Sullivan’s Island beach house, except it isn’t actually Mamaw’s anymore, and that’s only one of the troubles hindering what should be joyful months of planning two weddings. Surprises and secrets will keep you turning pages past bedtime.

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books, May 2016, $20)
Hendrix may live in New York today, authoring weird, dark, utterly inventive fiction, but he was once a local, growing up in the Old Village. And it’s there, and throughout the Lowcountry, that he sets this tale of two best friends making their way through Albemarle Academy together in the ’80s. Suddenly, at the start of sophomore year, good-girl Gretchen gets possessed, and a terrifying chain of supernatural events unfolds. Readers will hate to close the back cover on this thriller—brilliantly styled to look like a yearbook, complete with ads and classmate signatures.

All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank (William Morrow, May 2016, $27)
Interested in the lives of the über-rich? In her latest novel, The New York Times bestselling author (and Sullivan’s Island resident) Dottie Frank takes readers on a romp from Manhattan to Sullivan’s to Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island and beyond—all over the course of one summer. Travel with New York interior designer Olivia Ritchie and her billionaire clients as she grapples with shedding the trappings of her big-city life, accompanying her husband to his native Lowcountry, and resurrecting her business, all the while questioning what matters most.