I love field trips. I loved them as a kid, and I love them now. If I have a chance to chaperone a field trip, I take it, because you get to go to some really cool places. Even normal places, like farms and apple orchards, are exciting when you see them with a group of crazed children who can’t believe they are off of school grounds. And then there are the really exclusive, super-sweet opportunities like the one we had last Friday when my daughter’s 2nd grade class went to ECHO Science Center to hang out at Riglet Park.
Riglet Park is a mobile, indoor, snowboarding experience put together by the fine folks at Burton Snowboards, who I truly believe want children to be more active and lead healthy lifestyles, and if they happen to become lifelong snowboarders and buy a ton of Burton gear, well, that is just an unexpected positive side effect. So the Burton folks have put together this program, including training and instructional videos starring famous snowboarding Olympians, to introduce gym classes and other groups of active children to the world of X-TREME!!! winter sports. And it is awesome.
To start the day, the kids got to hear from a real and actual snowboard instructor, who said pumped up things like “How many of you have been skiing before?!” Sadly, only two people in the class did not raise their hands, my daughter being one of them. Believe me, this parenting failure was not lost on her and I heard about it later. Then the instructor introduced them to four stations that would simulate snowboarding in some way, and we split up into groups. Oh, and before we go any further, I feel it necessary to inform you that I had brought along an insane 4-year-old, just to make things interesting.
The four stations were:
1) A Twister-esque game where kids stood on a mat with snowboard symbols on them and, when dice were rolled, would bend and grab at the corresponding number on the mat to simulate different “moves.” Obviously the group that I was in charge of spent most of the time at this station fighting over who got to roll the dice, which was moot when 4-year-old Edward ran off with them. Luckily he came back and then tried to do some grabs on the mat, but with limited success.
2) Pretend snowboards (fauxboards?) on foam slats, on which you could attempt “180”s and other balancing tricks to get the feel of standing on a real board. Every station we went to, Edward attempted to circumvent in favor of this station, because it was clearly the most awesome looking. All the kids had fun with this one, although those slats slipped out very quickly and soon people were just sliding all over the floor and crashing into each other and falling down. So actually it was a perfect simulator.
3) Some smaller, curved boards on a puffy mat that kids could move around on. They could “walk” the boards back and forth, attempt more “180”s (everyone’s favorite trick) and generally wiggle about giggling. If they called this station the “Wiggly Giggling” station, no one would ask them why.
4) Some boards on the floor with long ropes attached to them, where kids could pull each other back and forth across the room, to get the feeling of actual forward movement on the boards. This was by far the most dangerous activity, and also the most fun. Edward was, amazingly, strong enough to pull 2nd-graders around, so he participated fully, while sister Ruby only fell off her board once or twice.
Once these stations were completed, it was time for the science portion of the day. We went into another room and saw a snowboarding bear ready to fly down a steep ramp. The ramp structure was adjustable so that you could change the angle of the ramp, and the goal of the experiment was to figure out that sweet spot between furthest distance and wiping out. We broke up into groups again, with the instructor wisely assigning roles to the children, to cut down on fighting over who got to do what. One kids was ramp kid, one was bear kid, one was measuring tape kid, and one was writing stuff down kid. Unfortunately my group had an extra kid. An extra kid who really really really wanted to do whatever the big kids were doing, but didn’t quite understand the experiment. I will skip the drama here and just say that the experiment ended with me holding a crying 4-year-old and four 2nd-graders arguing about who got to send the bear down the ramp.
Luckily that meant it was time for lunch, so we brought out our lunchboxes and I got to sit on the floor with the children and eat a PB&J. It really takes you back. As we scarfed down our food, a 2-3 minute video played on repeat, leading me to want to smash the projector, and leading my children to become very excited about the snowboarders in the video. They made me look up, on my phone, the location of the resort in the clip, which featured snow tunnels, giant ramps, and a variety of other terrifying obstacles that I don’t want my children near. It was, in truth, a super rad video and I was totally stoked to see some serious shredding, but after about ten viewings I got progressively less stoked each time it played.
The final portion of the trip was free explore around Echo, which we’ve been to many times but never gets old. They have replaced the amazing “Alice in Wonderland” exhibit with a room dedicated to… coffee. “Mommy would love this room!” my kids shouted. “It’s boring, can we leave?!” So we left the boring coffee room and traveled around to, for the most part, play with the kinetic sand. But they also had snowboarding areas spread out around the center, which Ruby was very excited about. In fact, overall I will say that this was one of the coolest field trips we’ve been on, and both kids are still talking about it. There’s only one problem. Ruby’s number one Christmas list item is now a snowboard. Good luck, kid.