During our time at Smuggler’s Notch in Jeffersonville, we climbed a small mountain, swam in 4 pools, caught frogs and raced boats in a creek. It’s 6:00 pm as I write this and I might actually fall asleep soon. Before that I wanted to let everyone know about some of my first impressions of Smuggler’s Notch.
It is only fair to start with how impressed I am by Vermont as a whole. This State is beautiful. We arrived yesterday via Montreal and the lush landscape and mountainous backdrop had me before I even cross the state line from New York. The kids are I loved looking around on the drive in and couldn’t believe the lush greenery and the beautiful waterfalls that could be seen around every turn.
The people here are also amazing. Last night we were invited to a pizza party with Mogul Mouse and Billy Bob Bear and were delighted to meet Rockin’ Ron the Friendly Pirate. Ron had the kids laughing and adults dancing for over an hour and the stay in Riga-Bello’s Pizzeria were amazingly nice.
We have yet to meet a staff member here who isn’t in a great mood and I suspect we might not but the time we leave.
One of my concerns of embarking on a solo road trip with two kids was that I would get little to no alone time. When we checked into Smuggler’s Notch, we were given the keys to a “condo” and even the word got me slightly excited that there may be more than one bedroom. When we entered the room, I realized the condo could probably house at least 6 people and space wouldn’t be an issue.
The piece de resistance is not the large jacuzzi tub that gets an honourable mention but the stacked washer and dryer, a traveling mom’s dream appliance. The condo was incredibly clean and stocked with everything we need to enjoy a 4 day stay here. I particularly love having a kitchen when we stay in hotels. We are able to save a lot of money on things like breakfast and eat a lot healthier also. Healthy eating of course leaves room for such wonderful things as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
What’s a wike? Well its a blend of a walk and a hike. Smuggler’s Notch offers free guide Wikes at least twice a day. Today’s morning wike too me up the ski hill to a place called Rum Runner’s Hideaway. The Hideaway is essentially a small man made lake that serves as the reservoir for the water snow making machines. The walk up to it is absolutely breathtaking. Once you arrive, there is even more fun to be had. We jumped around on a water trampoline, swam, and played on a water rope swing. After that we climbed up a little farther to get a gorgeous view of the actual Smuggler’s Notch.
Both Will and Charlie were invited to try out some of Smuggler’s Notch’s kids camps. I had heard about the camps from friends who had skied here and was excited to pick them up and hear all about it. Apparently, I was a little too excited. I tried twice to pick each of them up early and both times they begged to stay longer. Will was making a sailboat to race down a river after a long afternoon swim and Charlie was out catching frogs in a pond. I finally picked them up at the end of the day and they both rushed to tell me about all the things they had done.
One thing that really impressed me with the kids camp was the staff. The people working these camps are clearly university students and those I spoke to were either majoring in education in general or sports education. It was clear to me from the moment I walked in that they loved their jobs. This makes it quite a lot easier to leave your kids with them. I saw camp counsellors throughout the day that were with children other than my own and was equally impressed.
When I wasn’t slightly out of breath on my wike and trying to calculate how many calories I would get to consume of Vermont’s finest ice cream, I was chatting with Nancy the wike guide. Nancy really impressed me with her knowledge of the camps and told me all about the SNAP program here at Smuggler’s Notch.
The SNAP Program is a recreation program for children and adults of all abilities in an incredible environment. Basically, the experiences of each person are tailored to them. The ratio of counselor to camper is also based on the needs of each person. In the children’s program, the SNAP program also includes inclusion in some of the daily kid’s programming for socialization while still maintaining the support needed. The SNAP program is in no way limited and includes activities such as swimming, water sliding, horseback riding and nature walks. For more of the SNAP program, check out Love That Max, a blog written by a mother of a son with special needs.
Today I witnessed two different occurrences watching the SNAP program that blew my mind. One was when I was picking Will up and a camp counsellor was working in the room next door with a special needs child in a wheelchair. It was as if the two had known each other forever and I was shocked to see he was a camp counselor and not the boy’s father. The bond was clear and the boy was having a wonderful time.
Another quick moment was when I was exhaustingly walking back from my walk and a SNAP counselor was off to head up the mountain with a camper. The two were smiling and throwing disc golf discs while stopping to look at flowers or edible plants. The program is unlike any I have seen before. The counselors unquestionably do anything your child needs. Recently, a friend of mine has been having a problem with her young recently diagnosed autistic son not being potty trained at a camp that will remain unnamed. It made me glad to know that her family in time will be able to come to places like this and her son will be welcome with completely open arms.
Smuggler’s Notch Childcare
For more on Smuggler’s Notch Childcare in Winter and Summer see my review: Smuggler’s Notch Childcare.