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Welcome to Dupage Mamas! This blog is a place for Mamas to connect, share their experiences, and recommend great finds and ideas (or let us learn from your mistakes!) If you are raising kids in Dupage County, then we'd love to have you along for the adventure!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Park District Roulette

One of the many wonderful things about living in Dupage County is the well resourced Park Districts in most towns. When you have little kids with lots of energy, getting out and doing something structured and fun can be a "must." I always pounce on the Park District catalogs when they come, looking for fun things to enhance our week. Park Districts are like the multi-vitamin of daily fun: a great supplement.

And I don't limit myself to just one town either. I'm not afraid to pay the non-resident rate if I find something we could do with friends or just looks fantastic. We've done soccer camp at one town, swimming lessons in another, and tumbling class at still another - though not at the same time.

But there is certainly a sense of spinning the roulette wheel when we register and show up for the first day. Some classes and activities have been home runs - like the Chicago Fire MLS soccer camps held by real players with cool accents and great coaching skills. But there have been some major busts - like the gym class that promised to get lots of wiggles out playing games in the gym for 40 minutes. They spent 10 minutes in the gym and 30 minutes doing free play in a chaotic classroom with only one supervisor. (We didn't bother going back to that one).

Having paid for my share of Park District wins and loses, I'm convinced it comes down to the quality of the teacher, which in many respects comes down to the quality of the Park District itself. I can remember a teacher who facilitated a great tumbling class, and my friend raves about a wonderful music teacher. But I also have a fresh memory of a terrible story-time teacher who didn't come prepared with anything more than two books to read to a room full of two years olds that had an hour to spend in her care. Total miserable chaos.

Reading the Park District catalog at home, its hard to know what you're going to get. Everything I've signed up for has sounded fantastic. Some have really lived up to my expectations. And some have fallen so flat I've asked for my money back.

What Park Districts, teachers, or classes have you had a great experience with? I'm much more likely to sign up with a strong recommendation than to spin the roulette wheel these days.


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