Resorts: Glorified Babysitting? Hardly.

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Resorts: Glorified Babysitting? Hardly.
By Everett Potter

Summer Calendar

Milbridge Days Celebration
July 26-27
Milbridge, Maine
Teams practice for years to perfect their technique in the Great Greased Codfish Relay Race, the most exciting event at Milbridge Days Celebration. The relay includes dressing up in firemen's gear and running with a 20-pound greased, dead codfish through a stream of high-powered water from fire hoses. Although the codfish race takes center stage, the blueberry pancake breakfast, parade, and lobster cookout make the weekend truly unforgettable. Call 207-546-2422.

Boom Days
August 1-3
Leadville, Colorado
Leadville's Boom Days is the closest you'll ever come to the Old West. With folks in turn-of-the-century costume competing in hand mucking, spike driving, and jackleg drilling events, and burros and their riders being auctioned off at the famous Burro Race Calcutta, you'll drive away wishing you were riding in a horse and buggy. The bank even buries money for the best event of all--the kid's Sand Pile Money Grab. For more information, call 800-933-3901.

Hope Watermelon Festival
August 14-17
Hope, Arkansas
Sure, it's the hometown of President Clinton, but it's also revered as the watermelon capital of the world. Here you'll find the country's most mammoth melons, and just when they're at their ripest some 60,000 visitors flock to participate in the madness. With watermelon eating, watermelon decorating, and watermelon seed-spitting contests, as well as a Watermelon 5k run, it's no wonder President Clinton feels left out when foreign policy keeps him away. For additional information, call 501-777-3640.

--Stephanie Gregory

Big hotel chains love to tout their kids' programs, but many consist of little more than a box of Crayolas and a roomful of tiny chairs. Others simply exalt Barney and other television gods, leaving your kids oblivious to the fact that they're surrounded by the desert, the Caribbean, or the mountains. But there are notable exceptions. One quick indicator of quality is the ratio of counselors to children: One counselor to ten kids is fine, though on field trips and during water activities a one-to-six ratio is safer. Here's what a few far-sighted hotels have come up with.

When it comes to beach resorts, the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort and Towers in Miami Beach runs a program for ages 5 to 12 with nearly nonstop action: beach games, pool Olympics, sand-castle contests, relay races, and scavenger hunts. Plus, each week there are field trips to Miami's planetarium and seaquarium. There's no charge for the program but lunch is extra. Phone: 800-445-8667.

At Radisson's Arrowwood Resort on Minnesota's Lake Darling, kids can join Camp Arrowwood and saddle up a horse, paddle a canoe, or hike through the great North Woods. The program for ages 5 to 12 also takes advantage of Arrowwoods' children's library and indoor and outdoor pools. The cost is $15 per child per day (20 percent discount for two or more kids), including a picnic lunch. Phone: 800-333-3333.

What's new at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch is Family Camp (available on July 4 and Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends), which gets Mom and Dad involved as well as Hopi storytellers, Mexican vaqueros, and Native American dancers.

Start training now for water volleyball and waterslide splash competitions. On other days three- to 12-year-olds can join Camp Hyatt Kachina for nature walks, movie making, and Navajo sand painting ($54 per day, including lunch). Phone: 800-233-1234.

At the oceanfront Westin Resort on South Carolina's Hilton Head Island, 4- to 12-year-olds in Camp Wackatoo aren't lolling around on the beach. Instead, they're flying kites, playing volleyball, taking Jazzercize classes, cooking, and walking the sand with a naturalist ($40 per child, including lunch; $25 for second child). Phone: 800-999-4975.

Desert Discovery Day, French lessons on a Macintosh, and a 165-foot water slide are what 5- to 12-year-olds will be up to in the Funicians Kids Club at The Phoenician, Sheraton's Scottsdale property. There's a different theme daily and a private kids' clubhouse. A full day costs $50 and includes lunch. Phone: 800-325-3535.

Kids learn trampoline tricks, try out scuba gear, and go waterskiing at Florida's Club Med Sandpiper, north of West Palm Beach. This Family Village caters to babies as young as four months, and has three age-separate programs for kids 2 to 11. There are activities from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and no extra charges. Phone: 800-258-2633.

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