Activities, Stories

How to have the best summer ever: tales of our 2017 retreat

If you read our last post, you would understand that making inner city youth feel loved through providing educational and recreational experiences is a priority at the center. Every summer we take our kids on a ten day retreat where we visit all kinds  of cool places in the Midwest. In this post you can check out some of the exciting things we did this year!

The first thing we did was to head to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. Great Wolf Lodge is a fantastic water resort packed with water slides and activities that are really fun for kids (and grown-ups!) of all ages. We spent two nights there, and so had plenty of time to enjoy all the resort had to offer, including some great meals!

After that we headed over to Mears, MI to Mac Woods Dune Rides. This is a perfect activity for the outdoors lovers. At Mac Woods you get to ride an open-air vehicle that effortlessly climbs the highest dunes providing you with thrilling descents and breathtaking vistas. Mid-tour you get to stick your toes in the lake before climbing aboard again to listen to the fascinating historical narrative. 

After our dunes adventure, the Starfish crew headed back to home base, where later we got to see some pretty amazing fireworks! We also got to go swimming, which is always a big hit with the kids, AND the kids got to make their own hamburger meat and ice cream. 

Soon after that we had a kickball game with our friends from First Lutheran. I would tell you that our kids aren’t very competitive, but that would be a lie. Sports are always a big hit, especially with the older kids. Later, our kids had a great time enjoying a little friendly competition while bowling. 

Following those exciting and competitive activities, the kids and Starfish staff enjoyed a trip to Barnes and Noble bookstore – and were blessed with a bunch of books! At Starfish we believe that education and literacy are crucial to our students’ success in life, and strive to give them the tools to succeed in this area. Reading is important!

The whole crew then boarded a bus to head to Shipshewana, IN, to visit Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park. This Amish Farm was unlike anything we had ever experienced. The highlight of the farm was a safari-style ride through the grounds where scores of different types of animals came up to our vehicle and we were able to feed them as our guide narrated the experience. The interaction was priceless! We’ve seen most of those animals before, but not up that close! 

After the Amish farm, the crew spent the day in Shipshewana, enjoying shopping and some Amish musical theater at the Blue Gate Theater. Amish food is delicious!

After Shipshewana, we traveled via bus to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which also happens to be the world’s largest children’s museum. From the race car exhibit, to the interactive dance exhibit, the museum was packed full of exciting things for our kids to explore. 

After the museum, we returned to Michigan to enjoy gobs of delicious food and a baseball game! Starfish watched the Lansing Lugnuts play and a great time was had by all. 

After these adventures we really were quite worn out and ready to return home, but we will never forget the sweet memories of our trip! A special thanks to everyone who made this amazing trip possible. Until next year!

If you want to be part of creating amazing experiences like this for at-risk inner city youth, you can make a donation at PayPal.me/starfishchicago. Partner with us to transform lives!

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Activities

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of youth

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Every year we take our kids on a summer retreat to Michigan. This year we started off our retreat with two nights at Great Wolf Lodge, an exciting water resort. The kids will also experience fun and unique activities at the ranch house including an arcade, a swimming pool, a pantry stocked with snacks and candy, a giant playground, golf carts, bikes and electric scooters, and more. 

On past trips we’ve taken the kids to Mackinac Island, to the Creation Museum, to play laser tag, to the movies, and more. On this trip we plan to take the kids to see an Amish farm, a baseball game, a children’s museum, and Barnes and Noble where we plan to buy them each books. 

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. A lot of our activities are educational, but most of them are just fun stuff that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience otherwise. Our kids grow up in the inner city of Chicago, surrounded by drug use, gang violence, and the cycle of interrupted education. 

We make it our goal to not only provide them with educational experiences, but  also with entertaining, multi-cultural activities that they will remember for the rest of their lives. We want our kids to know that they are loved, they are valued, and that we enjoy spending time with them. 

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Why is that important? In this post here we talk about the epidemic of fatherlessness and how our program aims to combat some of its effects. Our kids desperately need both a broader experience of the world, outside of their sometimes toxic environment, and they need to feel secure in both the parental and friend-type relationships an extended outing experience like our summer retreat provides. 

If you are interested in supporting our program so that we can provide more of these experiences to at-risk youth in Chicago, you can donate at PayPal.me/starfishchicago. Make a note that it is for our Outings and Events Program. Together we can transform the hearts and minds of the inner city youth of Chicago. 

Activities

How to have fun with your kids in Chicago this summer 

How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. In this post here we shared some educational activities you can try to keep your kids’ minds sharp and busy this summer. However, in Chicago, the weather is only nice for half of the year, so you gotta get out and enjoy it while you can! Today we’re sharing some great ideas for getting out and spending quality time with your kids while the weather is still nice. We live in a great city; you might as well take advantage of it!

Maggie Daley Park

This park is the mother lode. It is the biggest park in Chicagoland as far as we can see. It’s actually several mini parks including a couple of splash parks in one, and it’s right in downtown not too far from Millennium Park. 

606 trail

The 606 used to be an abandoned railway, but now it’s 2.7 miles of multi-use recreational trails and parks. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should! It’s in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, and is easily accessible by train or bus. 

Splash parks

It gets crazy hot here in the Chi in the summer, so you need to keep those kids wet! Click here for a list of the best splash parks in the area, because you know your kid is gonna love it!
How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Swimming pools 

One of the best parts of living in Chicago is enjoying the free swimming pools that the park district has to offer! Click this link to search all the pools in the Chicago Park District. 

Hiking

Chicago may be urban, but we still have forest preserves! It will do you all some good to spend some time in the woods this summer. Check out this article for a list of Chicago spots to go hiking. 

Bike riding on the lakefront trail

Nothing quite as exhilarating as riding your bike with the wind at your back (okay, maybe a little bit TOO MUCH wind), Lake Michigan on one side, and skyscrapers on the other. Just make sure not to bring your littles on this path, because the other bikers and runners can be a little aggressive. 

Baseball game

We have not one, but TWO Major League Baseball teams in our great city, so take your kids to a game!

Architectural river cruise

This one is a tourist staple, so if you’re a local and you haven’t seen the city by boat, you’re missing out!

How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is expensive, so you can’t go all the time, but at least once a year you should take your kids. There’s a Ferris wheel, mini golf, an awesome children’s museum, cute shops and restaurants and more. 

Outdoor mini golf

This is so much fun for the kids, even if you’re terrible at it! Take advantage of the warm weather, and if it’s raining you can find an indoor course. 

Movies in the park

Free movies! Yes! If your kids are a little past the toddler age, this is a great option for those beautiful summer nights. 

Outdoor music festivals 

These are perfect for the older kids! They’re also a great way to bond with that teen who forgot how to relate to their parents. 

Beach

What’s a summer without the beach? Fortunately, Chicago has a TON for you to visit with your kids. 

What are you doing with your kids this summer that didn’t make our list?