A bit of Vegas in Lionshead
EAGLE-VAIL – With the money Kari Corbin recieved from last year’s Casino Night, she bought cross–country ski equipment and materials to build a chairlift swing for her preschool, Nurturing with Nature in Eagle-Vail.Sounds like a school even adults would like to attend.
Corbin models her school after the Norwegian outdoor preschool curriculum, where the outdoor environment is the classroom. She learned about the program while living in Norway, volunteering at one of the schools and coaching ski racing.”Kids never get sick because there outside all the time,” Corbin said. “Why would we want our kids playing in a 12 by 12 classroom? At my school, the kids play outside for almost three hours a day.”
Corbin’s school is one of eight members of the Eagle County Early Childhood Program. To help support its schools, every year the organization throws one big fundraiser – Casino Night – which happens Saturday at the Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa in Lionshead.
Enrollment fees cover just the bare minimum costs of running a school, Corbin said, like teacher salary. For anything extra or even supplies, the preschools rely on donations and funds raised at Casino Night. In years past, the money bought storytelling training for teachers. This year, The Children’s Garden of Learning in West Vail hopes to rebuild their playground of 28 years, and many schools are setting up IRAs for their teachers, an incentive to keep quality staff members on board.”Studies show that 90 percent of brain development happens before the age of 5,” Corbin said. “Experts think preschool is more important than college as far as brain development. Getting a good early start is crucial to the success in school.”Casino Night will feature a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament, starting at 9 p.m., craps, roulette and Red Dog. The ticket price buys you some gaming chips, and more will of course be available. New this year, in honor of the event’s 20th anniversary, local band Hustle will play and there will be a martini bar and ice louge. Bartenders will send vodka and mixers down an ice sculpture, carved by Paul Wertin of Fear No Ice, into a glass chilled and ready to sip.The silent aucton has grown this year too, boasting 100-plus items on the table for bidding. Highlights include a trip to Costa Rica, a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, and many, many local restaurant gift certificates.”It used to be, when the event started 20 years ago, just the families of the children,” Angela Mueller said, director of Tree House Early Learning Program in Vail and chair of the event. “As it has evolved, you see young ski instructors to adults in their 60s. It’s a true mix of locals.”