Summer Fun, Family Style

It has taken me a little while to get into the swing of summer apparently, it’s taken Mother Nature a bit of time, too. We had a spring snowstorm on Tuesday June 17 but with the Community Concert series set to kick off the following night (yep, it had to be postponed) and lift-served hiking and mountain biking already in full swing, the storm felt like a summertime sucker punch. In our family, we’d already spent a day exploring the activities at YMCA Camp Roger, where Lance will spend a week this summer—his first sleep-away camp experience. I’m happy to report there were cute, cozy cabins each with its own fire pit, plus archery, basketball, mountain biking and horseback riding. What’s not to love? (If it were acceptable, I’d sign up!)

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In my house, summer means a new routine nearly every week—and sometimes every day. It makes me marvel when I get to the end of the day and haven’t messed up, taken people to the wrong locations or missed a start time. Yeah, it happens.

Certainly, we’ve already crammed a ton of summer fun into the two quick weeks since school let out. My boys have enjoyed several days of tennis camp at the Park City MARC. You know it’s a good camp when you sign them up for two days and they come out at the end of the second day and ask, politely, for a third. You can bet that they’ll be doing more of that camp. I’m guessing, too, that part of their love of tennis camp is that it takes place at the MARC, where there’s free access to a rock climbing wall—perfect for killing time before camp starts.

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Some weeks, their camp pursuits are more academic. Seth went back to school for a French Immersion Camp. He’s in a dual language immersion program at school and his teacher runs week-long camps so that the language doesn’t fall out of the kids’ heads over the summer. Of course, it culminated in a hike—this is Park City, after all. Lance, on the other hand, headed to Zaniac, an awesome learning center in Redstone, where he’s been taking math classes (which thankfully, he loves, and which seemed to boost his math grades at school…win, win!). The camp he chose was “Intro to Computer Programming,”and he couldn’t get enough of the half-day program, learning to write code in lots of fun ways. He even created a music video for “Radioactive,” by Imagine Dragons.

Most of the camps we’re enrolling in this summer are partial-day camps, in part because I figured out that while there are many awesome full-day options (including Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp and options through Park City Recreation and Basin Recreation), I’ve realized that sending my kids to full-day camps often means someone else gets to hang with them while they are having fun and I get the cranky-exhausted kids afterwards. So, we compromise. There will be some full-day camps (they may yet decide to go to the UOP’s awesome FUNdamentals Sports Camp or Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp, because, heck, it’s summer, and who wouldn’t want a full day of fun?) But mostly, we’ll do partial-day camps and then head to the pool.

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Cf course, we’re planning a bunch of RV trips too—Bear Lake in July, so we can get our fill of that area’s crystal-blue waters and famous raspberry milkshakes. I would love to hear what camps you’re sending your kids to in the comments below or Tweet me @BariNanCohen.

OCEARCH at Deer Valley Resort’s Summer Adventure Camp

For the second year in a row, Chris Fischer from OCEARCH enlightened Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Campers on the importance of preserving our oceans.

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Mr. Fischer and his team allow scientists to study sharks in an environment safe for both the researchers and the sharks. They do this by catching and tagging sharks so scientists all around the world can study them. While most people would say they’re afraid of sharks, Mr. Fischer explained that sharks should actually be scared of humans; nearly 200,000 sharks are killed each day and if this continues, future generations will not be able to enjoy these awesome creatures.

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“I’m thrilled to be part of Deer Valley’s Summer Camp. Park City is home for my family and I, and I’m excited to be able to connect these kids to the OCEARCH mission and bring the ocean into their summer camp. Thanks to Deer Valley for inviting me!” - Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader

OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on great white sharks and other large apex predators. After having Mr. Fischer speak with the campers last year, the kids decided to donate the proceeds from the annual end-of-season Art Show to OCEARCH; nearly $800! They were also able to SKYPE with Mr. Fischer while he was on an expedition in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This year Mr. Fischer returned with Dr. Alex Hearn, a world-class scientist who specializes in the study of fish movements with a strong focus on conservation. Mr. Fischer and Dr. Hearn not only spoke about the importance of preserving our oceans but also gave some great life advice to the young campers.

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“An inch is a cinch and a yard is hard.”

Mr. Fischer explained when his team first started out, no one had ever done what they were attempting to do. By working together and taking little steps, they have been able to accomplish a lot, but there is still room for improvement. Mr Fischer shared his message that we have a lot of things we can improve on when it comes to ocean conservation and it starts with an inch.

One way OCEARCH is bringing attention to ocean conservation is with the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app, available to download for free. The app allows you to see the shark migration patterns, just like the scientists who are studying them; you can even track individual sharks by name and see where they were tagged and where they have been since. I downloaded the app and follow OCEARCH on Facebook. I think it’s so cool to be able to see where the sharks have traveled.

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After OCEARCH was done with their presentation, I spoke with Kurt Hammel, Deer Valley Resort’s Children’s Programs Assistant Manager.

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Ryan: How did Deer Valley Resort get involved with OCEARCH?

Kurt:  We learned of OCEARCH from one of our staff members. We are always looking for people who have ties to the Park City community to get involved with our Summer Adventure Camp.

Ryan:  What is the biggest thing the kids take away from these presentations?

Kurt:  I think the oldest kids realize the impact that killing sharks has and that they need to be the next generation to help. The younger kids seem to be really fascinated with sharks.

Ryan: Do the kids ask you a lot of shark questions in the days after the presentation?

Kurt: Some of the kids could talk about sharks all day, every day! The boys love to make shark pictures. A lot of these pictures will end up in our Art Show at the end of the season.

Ryan: Can you tell me more about the Art Show?

Kurt: The annual Art Show is held the first week of August. It allows the campers to proudly display the many and varied art projects they worked on so diligently all summer. The pieces are available to purchase for a donation to that year’s S.A.V.E. project.

Ryan: What does S.A.V.E stand for?

Kurt: Summer Adventure Volunteer Effort. This effort raises money through an art show for a selected organization. Some of our past recipients have been the Carmen B. Pingree School for Children with Autism, Recycle Utah, Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project and the Blind Children’s Learning Center.  In 2013, the kids raised $800 for The OCEARCH organization.

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Ryan: What other speakers do you have lined up for the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: This summer we have some great speakers lined up, including former Olympians, the “Hired Guns” cowboy entertainers, Hawkwatch and an Origami demonstration during the week of our Art Show.

Ryan: Origami; see if they can make hawks and sharks.

Kurt: I’m sure the kids will ask for those first.

Ryan: What is your favorite part of the Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: The great thing about Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp is that we are involved in a broad variety of activities with the goal to be active in our community and at the resort as well. We are not sport/activity specific and kids get to experience a lot of different things in just one week here.

Ryan: Can guests still sign up their little ones for Summer Adventure Camp?

Kurt: Absolutely, Summer Adventure Camp is open until August 20. Parents can sign their children up weekly or even for just a day or two. For more information on the Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp, please visit the website here.

Have you downloaded the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker app? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @RyanMayfield or @Deer_Valley.

Summer Adventure Camp

We have had an incredibly busy schedule—keeping up with our kids’ schedules this summer. Park City is an embarrassment of riches in many areas, and kids’ summer camps are no exception.

Lance attended two separate weeks of camp at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP)—he tried what amounted to about a kajillion sports, including ski jumping into the Splash Pool, and—wait for it—luge. Gulp.

Also on the Menu O’ Fun this summer: skateboard camp, karate camps, and the delightfully injury-risk-free tie-dye camp and art camp. And, of course, they made time in their hectic schedules of fun, fun and more fun, to attend a couple of days at Deer Valley’s Summer Adventure Camp.

This is not to say the summer has been without challenges. At UOP, Lance had to face his fears before jumping into the pool—and we had to do some fleet-footed parenting work to get him to even try. But he did—and whether he ever takes up freestyle skiing in earnest is of no consequence. What he learned from the process of learning was invaluable.

Deer Valley Summer Adventure Camp was a great learning experience, too. For one thing, the kids got to go to the Utah Museum of Natural History on a field trip. It’s a beautifully designed facility, and every exhibit has interactive elements for visitors of all ages. The next day was “Silly Sloppy Science,” which found the kids using recycled material to build boats, making glop, and lots of other silly, science-y things.

And while there were lots of obvious learning experiences to be had in those days, we all learned a few nice life lessons in the balance. For instance, because the first day the kids attended camp was a field-trip day, there was a lot of hustle-and-bustle, and not a lot of get-to-know-you time. It was something I hadn’t considered when I signed them up—and something I’ll take into account in the future. Both boys greeted me with relief when I picked them up, and spent much of the evening telling us why they had not had fun at camp. Both asked if they had to go the next day.

“Yes,” I told them. “You are going to give this camp a second chance. You’ve never had a bad day at Deer Valley, and everyone’s entitled to a bad day.”

When we arrived at camp, the counselors seemed genuinely happy to see my boys, which was reassuring. Still, I took the opportunity to share the kids’ reports from the previous day. My goal was to give constructive feedback, and offer context that might be helpful to the counselors. It appeared to be received that way. Still, I mentioned it to the desk staff on my way out. Impressively, the woman I spoke with asked specific questions about what the kids hadn’t liked, what I’d found disappointing—and took notes. They also told me they appreciated my honest, constructive feedback. This thrilled me. My measure of good service isn’t a trouble-free experience, but how the team handles the situation once it’s been brought to light. By the time I left, I felt confident the kids would have a better day. The proof was in the pudding—we showed up early and had to bribe them away from the fabulous time they were having. Thank goodness for the frozen yogurt at Deer Valley, Etc.