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The code below is based on a couple of forum posts from a couple of places. To a certain extent, it works. The issue I am having is that it only shows "Activities", no matter what parent category I'm in. I tried replacing "activities" with a number of very unsuccessful alternatives (conditionals, get functions, and others); nothing worked.

<?php $cat = 'Activities'; /* This is the problem area.
   Trying to get $cat to equal the name of the selected parent categories; the rest of
   the code seems to be working, at least for the Activities category. */

$catID = get_cat_ID($cat);
echo '<h2>' . $cat . '<h2>';
$subcats = get_categories('child_of=' . $catID);
foreach($subcats as $subcat)
{
    echo '<h4>' . $subcat->cat_name . ' </h4>';
    echo '<ul>';
    $subcat_posts = get_posts('cat=' . $subcat->cat_ID);
    foreach($subcat_posts as $subcat_post)
    {
        echo '<li>';
        $postID = $subcat_post->ID;
        echo '<a href="' . get_permalink($postID) . '">';
        echo get_the_title($postID);
        echo '</a>';
        echo '</li>';
    }
    echo '</ul>';
}?>
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If you are in a category context this should work and and you'll get the correct catID to work with.

function getCurrentCatID(){
    global $wp_query;
    if(is_category()){
        $cat_ID = get_query_var('cat');
    }
    return $cat_ID;
}
$catID = getCurrentCatID();
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