Eagle County’s best ‘tween’ activities
It’s not always easy being a “tween,” that period between being a kid and a teenager. In addition to zits, things one liked at age 5 now seem dull and boring, but those in the 10 to 14 age range are still a few years away from the fun that comes with teenage freedom.
“Some people say tweens is an awkward stage because they’re not a teenager yet and not a little kid (anymore),” said Edwards resident Michele Huyke, who has two tweens, a 10-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. “I look at it like my kids take advantage of both sides, they can still play with the young kids and also hook onto the bottom of the teen stuff.”
In a resort town, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities for both locals and visitors, but once kids get past the beginner ski lesson stage or grow out of entertaining themselves on the monkey bars, coming up with new things for tweens can be tough. It’s hard to get your tween to turn their gaze away from their cell phone or iPad, but there are ways to get your kid engaged in an activity other than selecting their next emoji. Outside of the typical on-mountain activities, here are some alternate suggestions for what to do if you have kids in the 10- to 14-year-old age group. And yes, they’re definitely “tween tested” and parent approved:
GET SCHOOLED WHILE SNOWSHOEING
For kids and adults ages 10 and older, the Nature Discovery Center, located at the top of Eagle Bahn Gondola in Vail, offers free guided snowshoe tours at 2 p.m. daily and evenings Tuesday through Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The snowshoe tour is a fun and easy way to teach your tween about the ecological history of the area.
“You can learn about the trees here and then go skiing and know what trees you’re seeing,” said Hannah Irwin, community programs coordinator at Walking Mountains Science Center. “It’s not just a snowshoe tour, it’s an educational program and really interactive. The naturalists that lead them all have a different program … (and you) learn about local wildlife, local ecology or natural history topics.”
If your tyke was too tiny last winter, then now could be the perfect time to try a different type of outdoor exploring.
“The (10 to 14) age group tends to be really into science naturally,” Irwin said. “They have a lot of questions, and (on the tour) they can have their questions answered and their curiosity awakened.”
Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org for more information.
DEFY GRAVITY AND TUMBLE SAFELY
The Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreational District Field House in Edwards has so many crazy cool options for the kiddos, you almost wish you were still one yourself so you could take advantage. There’s a climbing wall, turf field, gymnastics center, Sk8 Lab halfpipe and perhaps the most thrilling part is the Anti-Gravity Center, with trampolines and a foam pit where a tween can try new moves without parents having to worry about any injuries.
Huyke said for tweens the Field House is “the best place in the valley” because it’s affordable and kids feel comfortable there.
“With my kids now, I’m starting to let them be more independent,” Huyke said. “They take the local bus and go to WECMRD on their own.”
A day pass to the Field House is $5 per person, excluding the gymnastics room, and a yearly pass is $49 for kids and $59 for adults. Also every Friday there is a Kidz Night Out from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for kids up to age 12 that includes the Anti-Gravity Center, gymnastics, Nintendo Wii and pizza. This is a supervised night which gives parents a night out of their own. The cost is $20 per child. For more information, visit http://www.wecmrd.org.
SLIDE DOWN THE MOUNTAINS WITH A TWIST
One new winter activity that may become as popular as selfies someday is snowskate, which is a combination of snowboarding and skateboarding. Mark “Spike” Eiseman, manager of the Beaver Creek snowboarding school, said a lot of tweens have gotten into snowskate, as it’s a fun challenge that you don’t have to be an expert at to try. Instead of being locked in on a snowboard, with a snowskate you can hop on and off, and perform tricks similar to on a skateboard.
“They’re all getting into it,” Eiseman said. “Especially if they have to hang out with a (younger) sibling all day on (beginner runs), it preoccupies them. They can still have fun and enjoy themselves.”
Beaver Creek Snowboard School offers private lessons and group snowskate lessons of four or more with 24 hour advance notice. Transition Sports in Avon has snowskate rentals, or for more info on renting a snowskate for a lesson at Beaver Creek, call 970-754-4636.
Additionally, if your tween wants to learn more tricks and tips at Beaver Creek there’s a Rail Jam Playground, located near Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap, every Wednesday and Saturday from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
INSPIRE YOUR MINI-PICASSO
For those tweens who would rather twirl a paintbrush instead of a baton, Alpine Arts Center in Edwards has drop-in days every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition to painting, young artists can mold their own pottery in the ceramic studio, make crafts and try silk screening or print making. Owner Lauren Merrill said those in the 10 to 14 age group tend to be bursting with artist skills they can’t wait to hone and don’t always get much creative freedom in the classroom.
“(At school) they have such a limited amount of art time,” Merrill said. “It’s nice for them to be able to come in, whether it’s on the weekend or after school, and get inspired and not have it be for a particular class or assignment.”
Coming up this spring is Cupcakes & Canvas, the family-friendly version of Cocktails & Canvas. Held at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon on April 2, a parent can paint alongside their tween, and try to not get frosting on any masterpieces. The cost is $20 per person and it starts at 5 p.m. To sign up, visit http://www.alpineartscenter.org.
PLAY CHEF FOR A DAY
Also at Beaver Creek, Mamie’s Mountain Grill is an apres alternative that’s especially geared toward the tween set. Mamie’s is grill-your-own, giving kids a chance to cook their own hot dogs and hamburgers and wear the chef’s hat for an afternoon. At Mamie’s you can even make your own s’mores, and kids that age are just old enough to not burn their marshmallows over the fire immediately, unless they like these gooey treats intentionally crispy.
For a full list of Beaver Creek options for 10 to 14 year olds, visit http://www.beavercreek.com.
For many parents, the tween years is a time to loosen the reigns a bit and let your kids do some adventuring by themselves.
“For kids (my son’s age), Vail Village is safe enough that they can run through the village on their own,” Huyke said. “The last place I worked was Disney World, and I could go and let the kids play and I would feel safe. I feel that same way up here.”