Our first stand up paddleboard experience was such a rousing success, that no sooner were our feet dry, and lunch eaten, than Lance decided he wanted to celebrate his impending 10th birthday by inviting a few pals to try the sport with him and then have lunch at the Deer Valley Grocery~Café.
I, for one, could not think of a more fun way to celebrate my firstborn son’s first decade. Trent Hickman, owner of Park City SUP, was thrilled. “I love when people get excited about the sport after the first try,” he said. “I can’t wait for the party!”
We booked one board per child, and one for me, for one hour. I figured that it made sense to have an adult on the water, and since Trent would likely be on and off throughout the hour, tending to other guests—and I’m crazy about SUP—I nominated myself as the adult. Secretly, I was hoping that Seth would get up the nerve to paddle solo, and kick his old mom off the water, but I didn’t tell him that. Fact is, he announced up front that he preferred to “ride with the professional.”
It was, by far, one of the easiest birthday parties I have ever planned. The team at Deer Valley Grocery~Café made it easy—Janine (DVGC Manager) and I sat down with a menu a couple of weeks ahead of time, and scrutinized it for party-friendly options.
Kid-favorite/birthday party staple pizza? Check.
Unexpected fun nosh in the form of house-made potato chips in multiple colors and flavors? Check.
Menu settled, the countdown began.
About a week before the party, Lance got into the habit of checking the weather forecast. I keep trying to explain to him that “forecasts” in Utah are more like “suggestions of what could happen at any given time on any given day,” because the weather can change three or more times in an hour. (There’s a reason that locals wear out the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”) Still, there were thunderstorms predicted on the day of the party. I reasoned that we needed only one hour of clear weather—the hour we planned to be on the water. Fortunately, the morning of the party dawned just partly-cloudy, with the storm clouds hovering just outside of Deer Valley Resort.
And so, we paddled. The kids assembled—most had paddled previously—and Trent offered a few words of safety instruction, and we were off. Seth announced to Trent, “I’ll ride with you.” Trent, as I suspected, needed to tend to business on the shore, so he suggested that Seth ride on mine. And, just like that, the kid sold me up the proverbial (and literal) river. “I don’t trust her, she’s not a professional!” Quick-thinking Trent said, “She’s better than a pro—she’s your MOM!” and Seth climbed aboard. I have never had more fun supervising a party—just watching the kids invent games while they paddled, “accidentally” fall into the water, and even take sunbathing breaks (I’m looking at you, Anna!) was a hoot.
The hour-long rental was perfect—the kids worked so hard on the boards that they were wiped out after about 45 minutes, and then splashed around and goofed off for another 10 or 15 minutes before we dried off for lunch. Trent took me aside and said, “I hope we can get Seth out a couple more times this summer—he’s on the verge of gaining the confidence he needs to paddle solo, and I’d love to see that happen.” I made a mental note to use that little tidbit to entice Seth to keep at it.
About five minutes into lunch, those storm clouds moved in, and rained onto the deck awning that covered our tables. The kids told jokes, did magic tricks and generally ignored the weather while the adults shook our heads in amazement at the luck of it all. Pizza and chips were consumed (the grownups enjoyed the DVGC Burger—delish!) and by the time we served cake, the weather had cleared.
After lunch, we rounded up the kids for a “hike” along the paths around the ponds, and a couple of photo ops. I had to take a moment to look at my child and his wonderful friends—at least one of whom he’s known since birth. Jeff and I looked at them—and then at each other—in amazement. How lucky we are that our children are growing up in a community where they bond with their friends over interesting outdoor sports, and laugh uproariously while they do it. The fact that we have Deer Valley as our playground all-year is an amazing thing, and one we don’t take for granted.