Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hershey Park, PA: The Sweetest Way to Spend the First Day of Summer Vacation

Everyone needs a friend like my friend Linda. Linda is the fun mom, the one with the irrepressible energy who organizes frequent get-togethers (the more, the merrier), the one who always has a smile on her face (even in the mornings at school drop-off), the one who might just like the roller coasters more than any of the kids do, the one who always goes in the pool and goes swimming with the kids—underwater!—while the rest of the moms watch from the lounge chairs, making lame excuses about their highlights, the one who shows up to every event with a good bottle of wine that she’s always willing to share, the one who has more energy than all three of my kids combined. You know, that friend. And if you don’t know, then you should immediately stop reading this blog post and figure out how you can get yourself a friend like that.

The reason behind my love letter to Linda (but really, do I need a reason? We should tell all of our girlfriends more often just how much they mean to us) is that she took it upon herself to gather no less than fourteen moms and their gaggles of children and plan a first-day-of-summer-vacation overnight trip to Hersheypark. She came up with the idea and the dates, started the buzz and generated interest in the trip, booked rooms at The Hotel Hershey, suggested itineraries, arranged a group dinner and drinks at the hotel on the night of our stay, and, in typical Linda fashion, made it all happen.

The entire time I was at Hersheypark, I tried to channel my inner Linda. You see, I am not the one who always has a smile on her face and I am frequently tired and cranky (is that where my children get it from?) and I hardly ever get my hair wet in the pool. I resolved to be more like Linda—to consent to the face painting (even though it’s messy), to go on the log flume (even though I knew it would completely soak me through to my underwear), to allow some arcade time (even though everything but Skee-ball and air hockey makes me itchy), to let the kids eat their Hershey bars before lunch instead of after. And you know what? We all had the best time ever.

This trip was a tradition in the making and I can’t wait to go again next year—with Linda, of course, so that she can remind me to complain less and smile more and that the key ingredients to a full life are good friends, happy kids, and chocolate.

Hersheypark, 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA 17033; (800) HERSHEY;; Hours: Vary, but generally open during the summer from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM on weekdays and from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM on weekends; Admission: Varies; check website for different ticket options, prices, and deals.

The Hotel Hershey, 100 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA 17033; (717) 533-2171;; Guest perks include special deals and packages on Hersheypark tickets, kids’ activities, complimentary shuttle service to Hersheypark, and early access to select rides and attractions.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Blog is Back

In the Summer of 2010, I decided to rebrand my lack of planning for the summer into what I preferred to call a “positive opportunity” by hatching the idea of a Summer of Fun Bucket List (aka, Camp Mom). The kids and I had one glorious summer of diligently researching, planning, executing, and blogging, but the idea eventually lost momentum and quietly slipped into oblivion in 2011 and 2012.
This summer, I am resurrecting and updating our Summer of Fun Bucket List for 2013 and the rules, resources, and other perimeters are set forth below (I’m hoping that a summer of blogging will make me write less like a recovering lawyer and more like a writer):

  • Prepare a draft schedule five days a week, every week, until the end of the summer, subject to weather, changes in attitude, or other unforeseen circumstances. Without the working schedule, I am staring down 13 unplanned and unaccounted for weeks of summer with three children ages eight-and-a-half, six-and-a-half, and four--potentially dangerous and soul-sucking situation. The success of the Summer of Fun 2013 turns on the schedule, which has been (mostly) planned out through the end of June and remains a work in progress
  • Tie in relevant books and movies into our regular outings
  • Record our daily adventures and outings in a blog, even though I may very well be the least technologically advanced person under the age of 97
  • Have each child and myself complete a hard copy scrapbook of our summer, complete with photos, ticket stubs, postcards, written descriptions, and drawings

THE CATEGORIES  (in the past three years, this has morphed into a somewhat unwieldy 65-page  Word document and includes:)
  • Museums
  • Beaches/Pools
  • Playgrounds/Parks
  • Zoos
  • Libraries
  • Gardens
  • Other (this is a smorgasbord of places that defy easy categorization such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, and Grey Line double decker bus tours)
  • Neighborhoods and Walking Tours
  • Broadway, Movies, and Other Shows
  • Adventures Outside the City and Overnight Trips

  • City Walks With Kids: New York 50 Adventures on Foot by Elissa Stein
  • Fodor’s Around New York City With Kids, 4th Edition
  • Storied City: A Children’s Book Walking Tour Guide of New York City by Leonard S. Marcus
  • New York Family: website and monthly magazine (
  • Red Tricycle: website (
  • Time Out Kids New York: website and monthly magazine (