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retreating to Sturbridge

For the past three years our church has run a retreat at the end of October on Cape Cod. This year we got priced out of the fancy hotel there, and shifted the event to a hotel and conference center in Sturbridge. We also changed the time to mid-September. It's funny: mid-September would be a tremendous time to visit the Cape, unlike the edge of winter when we're usually there. And October is probably pretty nice in Sturbridge. It's always off-peak for us. Never mind, Sturbridge in September was lovely as well!

Harvey and Zion looking at the lake by the hotel

on foreign shores

The hotel certainly suited us a lot better than the previous one. Besides my own kids I also spend most of the time on the retreat in charge of everyone else's elementary schoolers too, so the elegant atmosphere of the Cape Cod Sea Crest was lost on me—more, I was terrified the whole time that the kids would break something. At the Sturdbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center there was no such worry: so many things were already broken! But that doesn't mean it wasn't lovely. The interior decor is impossible to describe; suffice it to say that it combines colonial elements, Wild West detailing, and the indoor-outdoor feeling like you have in a big garden center greenhouse. There are balconies on the inside walls of the courtyard. The pool has an island!

Lijah, the hotel pool, and its plants

indoor oasis

The kids spent most of their free time in the pool. Despite its tropical appearance it was actually pretty cold, so they also took full advantage of the hot tub, despite signs forbidding anyone under 16. The hotel employees were pretty gentle when they kicked them out, all six or seven times they had to. Besides the swimming, they also got to be part of the kids program I ran. On Friday night we watched a movie.

kids watching Shaun the Sheep in a conference room

late-night entertainment

The kids there are about a quarter of the total; we had some other options going on too. There were 28 elementary kids, if I recall correctly. On Saturday I took them to a playground in the morning (some of them almost didn't survive the third-of-a-mile walk there) and in the afternoon we played board games, made paper airplanes and costumes, and had sack races. I think I showed them all a pretty good time! Lijah wasn't with my group; the kindergartners were with the preschoolers, and I was so proud of how uncomplainingly he went off with the rest of them. I think he sometimes enjoys the chance to be one of the biggest kids in a room! Of course, it was even harder work for him than it was for the rest of us, and as soon as he was back in my charge he was done with it all!

Lijah sleeping on the floor among bags

zzz

As I said in my summing-up last year: it wasn't really a vacation, but it was sure a fun adventure!

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