“Karate Kid” Camp at Ring’s School of Martial Arts in Madison is more than a place to learn martial arts.

In addition to the Tae Kwon Do lesson every morning as the campers work to achieve the next rank, participants take field trips to places like a pool, a park, a bowling alley and an animal rescue farm.

At other times, the kids do activities like board games, puzzles, musical chairs and Bingo, and generally treat the place like home — roaming freely in the Ring’s facility, making up their own games and even using their electronic devices on a limited basis.

When it’s lunch time, the campers eat picnic-style on big tarps spread out on the floor or sometimes outside.

“It’s nice to take your shoes off at a place that’s not home,” said Luci Collins, an incoming fourth-grader at Winnequah Elementary School.

Claira Bestul, an incoming fifth-grader at Schenk Elementary School, was not the only camper to note that Karate Kid Camp is not like a typical daycare. She said she likes the flexibility and the choice she and the other campers have about whether to do certain activities.

“I realized I would be learning self defense and I was kind of excited,” said Luci Collins, an incoming fourth-grader at Winnequah. “It will be good for later in life.”

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But she also said the camp is fun because of the chance to meet new friends.

“I met my first-ever best friend here,” said Alisah Walton, an incoming seventh-grader at Abundant Life Christian School. “They teach us how to respect yourself and others.”

Solomon Mathe, an incoming fifth-grader at Winnequah, said the campers are like family and he likes that there are ways he can help out at the camp.

He said it’s a little more free than most camps, but there’s still discipline and campers are taught strength and focus.

“For example, my report cards got a lot better when I started taking karate,” he said.

Ring’s School of Martial Arts, 1938 S. Stoughton Road, Madison, offers a four-week and a six-week camp during the summer, in addition to similar after-school programs, with camper drop-ins allowed.

Janet Ring, a master instructor, owns the business with her husband, William, a Tae Kwon Do grandmaster. They hire a number of former campers to help run the summer sessions. The older campers also mentor the beginners and parents often come to watch when their children are tested and graduate to the next rank.

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