Column: Oh, the Places You’ll Go - Part IILast month I reviewed some of the unconventional field trips my kids and our friends have taken. In an effort to encourage people to get out this summer, have some adventures and not spend a wad of cash, I want to continue and share some of the more adventurous and pleasing gustatory tours we have taken.
Last month I reviewed some of the unconventional field trips my kids and our friends have taken. In an effort to encourage people to get out this summer, have some adventures and not spend a wad of cash, I want to continue and share some of the more adventurous and pleasing gustatory tours we have taken.
What is summer without ice cream? What is ice cream without Coldstone Creamery? In an effort to understand exactly why we enjoy Coldstone Creamery so much, we called and asked for a tour. We were warmly welcomed.
The kitchen isn’t huge, so a group needs to be quite small, but the owner met us at the door and led an informational and tasty tour. He didn’t just explain how ice cream was made. He actually made some — from scratch. He allowed kids to shout out suggestions, pour liquids into vats, try their hands at stirring, squeeze bags and, best of all, sample ice cream!
I’m not sure if he does this for every tour, but each child even received a free coupon for one child’s ice cream. The owner of Coldstone is a smart man. Every time we drive by Coldstone my children get the warm fuzzies. The owner says, “Gotta love it!”
Other tours that garnered happy faces were Great Harvest Bread Company, Rogotzke’s maple syrup farm and Whole Foods Co-op. When we toured Whole Foods Co-op, we walked away with a better understanding of healthy food. We expected to pinch tomatoes and snack on raw barley or something, but as we walked through, it became clear that more goes into providing satisfying food than plopping it on the shelves.
We did learn about the difference between organic and inorganic, processed and whole food, and got to eat quite a bit. I noticed how happy the employees seemed. We were allowed into the back rooms, and the employees were joking and being genuinely affectionate. Surely atmosphere affects our food shopping.
If your children have a favorite restaurant or have even just asked a question about where food comes from, call up a business and ask for a tour. Business owners understand that the more positive experiences customers have with the product, the more willing they are to spend money on those goods.
Why not take your kids behind the scenes of someplace familiar like the bowling alley, Cub Foods or the television station? One friend of mine reported that his children’s favorite field trip was when Justin Liles from WDIO came out to teach the kids about meteorology. For a modest admission price, some of the local businesses like Hartley Nature Center, Vertical Endeavors, the Duluth Children’s Museum, Lake Superior Zoo and Wolf Ridge will tailor a tour to fit a group’s interests.
Because of a meaningful tour we took to Animal Allies this spring, my young daughter Annie was inspired to dedicate her life to helping animals in need. Pat of Animal Allies prepared a wonderful visit. Not only did we get a tour of the new Animal Allies facilities, but Pat also arranged for special visitors to come in with their pets and teach us about animal care. Among other activities, all of the kids were allowed to hold a blind, “specially-abled” poodle. They were kinder and gentler people when they walked out.
Both the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) and the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) have been hospitable in educational tours of their planetariums, greenhouses, and biology and geology departments. It’s amazing that we have these learning resources right around the block!
The Tweed Museum, which is the art museum at UMD, has hosted several enlightening trips for students. Student artists will take the time to explain art and give the kids opportunities to express themselves artistically. We parents couldn’t believe how focused elementary students could be on Native American symbolism (the exhibition du jour).
As a kid, I spent too many of my summer days watching TV in a stuffy den. Maybe many of us were brought up that way in the ‘70s, but I want to give my kids more to chew on than daytime soap operas. The price is right (usually free), and the results are satisfying. Take some field trips, and find yourself and your kids stimulated this summer. If you need guidance, bookmark the “Take the Kids” blog on the Duluth News Tribune site (http://takethekids.areavoices.com/). There are always fresh ideas there.
Monthly Budgeteer columnist S.E. Livingston is a wife, mother and teacher who writes for family and education newsletters in northern Minnesota (and lives in Duluth). E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.