You may have noticed that Experimental Mommy has been a bit slow this past week. I’ve had a good reason for being a slacker! I was reconnecting with my family, nature and myself at the beautiful Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. My family and I (along with 3 other bloggers) were asked to take part in the week long 51st Annual Summer Family Adventure program and report back to you about our experiences. So, without further ado:
The Top Ten Things I Learned from Callaway Gardens Summer Family Adventure
10. It’s not just a garden. My Mom and Dad have vacationed at Callaway Gardens several times and have even tried to convince us to go with them on occasion. To be honest, I really thought that Callaway Gardens was just that….a garden. A place for older couples to enjoy slowing down, walking a short trail and smelling some flowers. Boy, was I completely wrong! The Summer Family Adventure program is so much more than I ever imagined. Including diverse activities that appeal to all ages, you will find opportunities to participate in arts and crafts, canoeing, golfing, tennis, laser tag, mini-golf, biking, hiking, wine tasting, circus tricks with the FSU High Flying Circus, Farmer’s Market, water skiing, and even an obstacle course with five zip lines in the trees.
9. Callaway Gardens is a tradition. The Summer Family Adventure program is in it’s 51st year and while we were there, we got a chance to meet fellow campers (everyone checks in on the same day) that have made Callaway a family tradition. I was amazed at how many families come during the exact same week year after year and we got to know a wonderful family from Boca Raton, Florida who has vacationed at Callaway with their children for 20 years now! Many families use the Summer Family Adventure as an opportunity to host a family reunion or reconnect with old friends. We hope to make the Summer Family Adventure a tradition of our own.
8. I like camping….in an air-conditioned cabin. Our accommodations were incredible. During the Summer Family Adventure, you will stay in a two bedroom, two bathroom Cottage (or Villa if you require larger accommodations) equipped with a full kitchen, fireplace and a screened in porch otherwise known as heaven. Callaway was the perfect mix of outdoors and civilization which made both my husband and myself extremely happy. In order to cut down on meal expenses, we brought ingredients to cook meals and also ordered staple items from the provided grocery service (which was more than reasonable in price!). After a full day of activity, we loved coming back to our Cottage to regroup, relax and share a meal before heading to bed for the night. The beds were very comfortable and the bathrooms have been recently upgraded.
7. My girls are boy-crazy (and yes, they are only 3 and 6 years old). Monday thru Friday from 9am to 3pm, kids ages 3-17 can attend the Summer Family Adventure Camp program. At first, I was a bit nervous leaving my girls, but my fears quickly subsided when I met the camp director and counselors. Both of my daughters walked into camp and never looked back. Their days were filled with crafts, songs, swimming, hiking, feeding the turtles, visiting the Butterfly Garden, visits from the Birds of Prey animals, circus tricks, mini-golf and so much more. But, my girls’ absolute most favorite part of camp? Mr. Parks. My girls talked about Parks, one of the camp counselors, just about non-stop. I think they had a crush. Geesh.
6. Beware of the sprinklers. While the kids were at camp, my husband and I had time alone. When does that happen? We decided to take a walk on one of the many trails and take in the beautiful scenery. About halfway through the walk, we heard a slow trickle which gradually turned into a monsoon. Giant sprinklers watered the grounds and we were quickly soaked. As we ran through the second half of the trail, we were out of breath not from the run, but rather laughing until we were blue. I can’t remember having more fun!
5. Adult camp is just as fun as kid camp. Not only are there fun opportunities for kids, the Summer Family Adventure program afforded lots of fun things for adults, too. From wine tasting to cooking demonstrations, Zumba on the Lake (which was way more fun that Zumba in my living room) to archaeology hikes, Callaway has it all. My husband and I loved making new friends and exploring all that Callaway has to offer. But just between you and I, my favorite thing was Rockin’ Robins Pizzeria and Malt Shop. Alexis makes a mean chocolate milkshake.
4. My kids love muscadine jelly. For having two of the pickiest eaters on the planet, when I saw the jar of muscadine jelly generously given to us by the Staff, I had no intention of sharing it with my girls. But shortly after completing a scavenger hunt in Mr. Cason’s Vegetable Garden (did you know that Callaway Gardens grows it’s own vegetables and herbs?) and learning about the muscadine, my daughters were all about trying the jelly…..and they loved it. Score!
3. I am a lot braver than I give myself credit for (and not as scared of heights as I thought!). I have never considered myself a person with a lot of courage. Sure, I gave birth to two children, but I was heavily drugged! So, I never thought in a million years that I would learn (and successfully complete) a backflip off of a high flying trapeze. But, I lived to tell the story and you can watch me make a fool of myself here:
2. My husband is not as brave as I thought he was (and way more scared of heights than I imagined). Another perk of the Summer Family Adventure is that you can soar through the sky in the Treetop Adventure. The initial plan to get through the course of dizzying aerial challenges was to make sure I go first followed closely by my husband who was to encourage me and help me conquer my fears. When starting the course, I quickly got into “the zone” and climbed all the way through obstacle four before looking for support from my loving hubby. After looking ahead to see a swinging bridge in front of me, I turned to find hubby only he was nowhere to be found. Plan aborted. I had to do the rest alone and I made it through obstacle 19 (of 24). To give the hubby some credit, he did make it to obstacle 12 before quitting and found some courage to later water ski on an inflatable tube!
1. From a sign near the entrance, “Take nothing from these gardens except nourishment for the soul, consolation for the heart and inspiration for the mind.“ Our Callaway Gardens Summer Family Adventure did just that. My soul was rejuvenated, my heart was happy and my mind was definitely inspired. I learned about myself….to celebrate my strengths and overcome my weaknesses. I learned about the importance of family and taking time to cultivate these relationships. Callaway Gardens was so much more than a vacation or a week long adventure…it was a life changing experience.