Sometimes part of Tim's pay for events comes in the form of "perks." Often he gets a bonus stuffed animal, or dinner thrown in.
He recently got hired to do a high school choir "retreat", workshopping the underclassmen. They offered to put the whole family in a hotel for the weekend so we could play while he taught, as a perk. So Friday night we loaded up the car and drove an hour and half to Estes Park, just at the gates of Rocky Mountain National Park. I was expecting to stay in a Motel 6, hopefully with a pool.
When we were almost there, Tim said, "Did I mention we're staying at the YMCA?"
No. I wouldn't have come had he mentioned that. My preconception about YMCAs was men and women can't stay in the same dorm, and everyone sleeps in big open rooms. I was REALLY WRONG.
When we got there, we found our "hotel" was actually a cabin on top of a mountain, surrounded by trees and huge rocks and wildlife and stars. It was really awesome. We took a walk in the dark and remembered that we love the mountains and walking in the dark.
And we discovered that our children had never played in the mountains before!
So Saturday we got up and found that all our meals were included in the "perks" for the retreat. And that not only could the kids play in the mountains and go hiking, there was a pool on the grounds (which were huge). Then we started reading the paperwork and found that we could swim, hike, go miniature golfing, play basketball, go the library and museum, go square dancing, etc etc etc all for FREE. They had bins of bubbles sitting out for kids, and just lots of fun things here and there. And playgrounds!
So we hiked, and played in the mountains. Then we went swimming twice. And we played mini golf, which the kids adored. Daniel walked around with his "hammer" (the club) hitting the ball a few inches and then carrying it and tossing it into the hole. Anda and Caleb played holes at the same time (so we wouldn't hold anyone up), and there were few rules, so there was lots of picking up the ball and moving it, or shepherding it into the hole, or trying again from the start. It was a riot. And really fun. I didn't bother to keep score--too complicated.
By the time we climbed out of the pool (at 10:00 pm), everyone was exhausted. Daniel had even fallen asleep in the pool, floating peacefully on his infant life jacket. We all climbed into the car, and Caleb cried and cried because it was so fun and he didn't want to leave. All four children slept all the way home.
All together it was the best non-monetary "pay" Tim has received for his services.
They do family "camps" all year up there, too. For $75/adult ($55/child) per day, you get a place to sleep, three meals, and all the activities you can imagine, including horseback riding and ropes courses. One of the camps is a "magic" camp where you meet with a magician and learn how to do the tricks. (Caleb liked that idea!) Sounds steep for us scroungers, but if you consider that Disneyland is $55/day without food and without lodging, it's not too bad. Especially for all those activities included free.