Escaping to Vermont

Smuggler's Notch Makes a Family Getway Fun

Vermont is a bit of a drive for a Rhode Islander — after all, there are plenty of Rhode Islanders who hate even driving over “THE BRIDGE”, and who consider Emerald Square Mall too far away because it’s off the edge of the state. But a drive to Vermont gets you into the Green Moutains, away from any hint of city life, and into the realm of ski resorts.

 

Linda and I accepted an invite to Smuggler’s Notch, one of the largest resorts in Vermont. It was the tail end of the skiing season, the rain was rapidly washing away the last of the winter’s snow and only a few hardy souls dared the ride the lifts from the rainy and windy base to the sub-freezing summit.

Not being skiiers, it didn’t matter much to us — it was a great excuse to get away, while discovering a bit more of New England.

What we discovered was an entire village built around the ski slopes — a village with shops and restaurants and night shops along with the obligatory condos and timeshare units. We also found a resort that caters to familes with special family events, child care, youth activities, family-friendly facilities.

Smuggler’s Notch, “Smuggs”, isn’t for the beer-swilling frat party crowd that we had expected. Yes, they have the “Bootleggers’ Lounge” and nightly entertainment lineup for adults. Presently they feature improv comedy and Marko’s Hypnosis Show. But the party atmosphere is muted. The real emphasis is on families.

And they maintain the family atmosphere into the summer, when the slopes are for hiking and picnics instead of skiers and snowboarders.

During the summer, the weekend programs for youth ages 6-15 combine three of the mid-week programs into each day of the weekend. For the younger Adventure Rangers Smugg’s offers the Nature’s Treasure Hunt and the Amazing Maze & Puzzle Day. For the eleven and olders it will be Map & Compass Day and Bootleggers’ Basin Raft Race.

Playgrounds for toddlers become a Pirate Ship themed adventure Playground with with nautical toys, climbing structures, and benches for parents who want to relax while the kids expend energy.

We didn’t see much of this. We did, however, get to enjoy an excellent condo, with a fireplace, jaccuzzi tub, full kitchen, and bedrooms for the kids well separated from the master bedroom. There were even stuffed animals and picture books in the kid’s room.

We cooked our meals mostly in the condo, but we did share a lunch in the resort’s cafe with one of Smugg’s administrators, who told us about their summer programs.

Disc Golf hits the Smugglers’ scene this year. The “greens” are cleverly staged amidst the cross country trails and open meadows near the tennis center for a fun and challenging game for families. Disc Golf is included on the guests’ activities pass this summer, for instance.

They are also especially proud of their new musical activities, added to their summer kids’ camp program involving vocals, dance, songwriting, instrumentation and performance.

The new program, called Sound & Stage, will be available to children participating in the Resort’s Adventure Rangers (ages 6-10) and Notch Squad (11-15) camp programs. In past years, children in these camps have enjoyed picking a “minor” when choosing to participate in Smugglers’ Summer Fun University camps. Sound & Stage will join perennial favorites Arts & Crafts, Nature & Hiking, and Adventure & Games to round out the Resort’s offerings with a new focus on the live arts.
To develop Sound & Stage, Smugglers’ has been working with Re-Bop Records, an award-winning independent label in Vermont that pioneered oldies music for kids. Now in its 16th year, Re-Bop has added jazz and blues music to its selections for kids and has seen its music become a highly touted favorite among parents, educators and caregivers. The unique and special tones of Re-Bop’s music are developed by pairing great performers such as Bonnie Raitt and jazz and blues vocalist Sandra Wright with talented kids.

One of those talented kids is Anneli Blume, a 12-year-old vocalist from Vermont who can be heard belting out the blues on Re-Bop’s Even Kids Get The Blues soundtrack. Anneli made a special appearance at Smugglers’ in February during the Disney/FamilyFun Winter Carnival as a warm up for working with Re-Bop and Smugglers’ on the Sound & Stage camp program.

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