Going Additive Free: Are Food Dyes Worth the Risk?

fooddyesThe first question I had about food dyes was, Why do we even use them? Is there some sort of benefit to using food dyes? The answer is no. They’ve been around for decades, and are included in everything from macaroni and cheese to cereal, but they do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, and some experts say they can actually be harmful. So why do companies use them? To make the food “more appealing” to consumers, especially children. Most of the time these foods are already highly marketed toward children anyway, with fun shapes or cartoons on the box, and the color is just an added lure to make your children want to eat it.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, per capita consumption of dyes has increased five-fold since 1955, and each year manufacturers pour about 15 million pounds of synthetic dyes into our foods. Many dyes have already been banned due to their adverse affects on laboratory animals, but the report finds that many of the currently approved dyes raise health concerns. The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens, says CSPI. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply. These artificial dyes are made with petroleum, a crude oil product, which also happens to be used in gasoline, diesel fuel, asphalt, and tar. Sounds like something you’d want to avoid feeding to your children, right?

What are the health concerns: risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies to name just a few.

You might be surprised to learn that the same products that contain food dyes in the US no longer contain the potentially harmful dyes in the UK. In 2007, a study that took place called the Southampton Study (which was funded by the federal food safety agency in the UK) resulted with alink between hyperactivity in children and certain food additives. In response, the UK branches of Kraft, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, and Mars, as well as US companies that export to the UK, removed these harmful ingredients from their foods without making the changes back here in the US. Then the UK’s Wal-Mart equivalent, Asda, voluntarily removed monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame, and hydrogenated fat from 9,000 of its own label products, ingredients that weren’t even part of the study. In addition, foods and drinks that contain six artificial food colorings linked to hyperactivity in children are required to contain a warning label. This shows an eagerness on the companies’ parts to clean up their acts for UK consumers, yet they haven’t done the same for Americans.

How can we help create similar change in the US? People are speaking up and asking companies to remove these potentially harmful dyes, you may have seen friends on facebook sharing this petition to Kraft asking them to remove the unnecessary dyes. Another way to make your voice heard is by choosing to speak with your dollar, avoid purchasing foods that use these additives and choose healthier alternatives instead. And there are healthier alternatives to food dyes out there that are already being used to replace dyes. Beet juice, beta-carotene, blueberry juice concentrate, carrot juice, grape skin extract, paprika, purple sweet potato or corn, red cabbage, and turmeric are some of the substances that provide a vivid spectrum of colors and pose no potential health risks.

Need some tips on how to identify and avoid food dyes? Click here to read a great article from 100 Days of Real Food with some good tips on what to avoid. Also, here are a few quick tips on how to keep these food dyes out of your grocery cart:

  • Keep in mind that man-made food dyes appear in ingredient lists as a name of a color with a number following it: Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6.
  • Food dyes lurk not only in the brightly colored obvious places like Froot Loops, like the article on 100 Days of Real Food shows, they can be found in items like brown cereal, whole-wheat pizza crust, and even white icing. Reading the labels once again will help you make sure what you are buying is free from dyes.
  • Dyes and preservatives can also be found in personal care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, some of which may be swallowed by young children. Again, read the labels carefully before buying them. Crest toothpaste, for instance, contains blue dye; Colgate’s Original is free of it. Clear, natural mouthwashes are a good substitute for those brightly colored varieties.
  • Most pediatric medicines are also artificially colored and flavored. Ask your doctor if there is an additive-free substitute that would work just as well. For over-the-counter medicines, many now come in dye-free versions.
  • Again, as I said in my first post on Going Additive Free, eating a balanced diet of fresh produce and whole grains will go a long way towards keeping additives and preservatives out of your child’s system. Whole foods are much healthier than processed and packaged. If you choose processed foods, look for the organic options which usually have little or no added synthetic colors or preservatives.

Click here to read my post on making my kids’ lunchboxes healthier, and tune in Friday to WAMC to hear me chat with the folks on Vox Pop talking about cooking with kids!

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Top Toddler Toys for Guaranteed FUN!

Here are my top picks for toddler products, you are sure to love these hot new items for your little one!

2848_box1. Cardboard Box

Have you heard of these yet? Chances are if you’ve gotten an Amazon shipment in the past few hours (I mean, who hasn’t?) you have a box lying around, lucky you! Take whatever toy came in that box, toss it aside, and let your child go to town on this box. Rocket ship, television, boat, box, whatever. They’ll love it.

1.jpg28aef799-95b5-4140-8210-cd9327917748Large2. Milk Carton

This is like a spinoff on the cardboard box but is WAY more portable. Going on a car trip? Bring along a milk carton! Toss a handful of rocks in there and I guarantee it’ll buy you at least ten to fifteen minutes of quiet time.

leather-purse-brown[1]3. Your Purse

This item comes in SO many cool styles, and is usually the most fun for kids if it has some money (paper bills and coins not included), some lipstick or gloss to smear and especially a cellphone that can be cracked. Add in some mints or Tums that you don’t want them to eat for an extra play challenge to keep them (and you) on your toes. The deluxe version of The Purse includes a set of car keys with an alarm they can set off unexpectedly.

larger-american-general-mills-cheerios-cereal-510g-box-6683-p4. Box of Cereal

This one has to be full to be fun. Simply buy a box of cereal, open it, leave it on the counter close enough to the edge for your child to reach and let the fun begin! They earn bonus points in this game if they manage to stomp on most of it before you get a chance to clean it. Buy the organic cereal for a healthier play experience, just in case they actually eat any of it.

ttt

5. Your Toilet

The best part about this toy is that we all (should) have one in our houses already! Options for fun include closing the lid over and over again, putting things into the toilet that don’t belong there, flushing the toilet as many times as humanly possible, putting arms/hands/head inside the toilet, it’s really endless entertainment for your toddler! Get the bonus fun pack of toilet paper and let the games REALLY begin! Your toddler will love the classic “Unroll the Entire Roll in Thirty Five Seconds” game, it’s a guaranteed winner!

national-spaghetti-day6. Dinner

The beauty of this toy is that it doesn’t matter what you serve, your child can make a game of it. Spaghetti goes on the head, carrots go on the floor, bread gets wedged into the high chair, they can get creative! Don’t worry if you think you’re serving a dish they will actually EAT, with this game they will decide that old favorite is now totally repulsive and will make quick work of smushing it between their palms. Family dogs even get in on this action with the old “Feed the Pets” round!

child 8_toddlerbed7. Toddler Beds

You might have heard of these before as a good way to transition your toddler out of their crib, but in fact these are the BEST toddler gymnasiums! Kids will get a workout, especially right around bedtime, bouncing and jumping and running, you won’t believe how much energy they will get once they lay eyes on this toddler bed! The one catch is that while the toddler bed gymnasium will tire you out, it’s likely to have the opposite effect on your toddler, so, just a heads up on that.

april fools xoxo

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Mamatoga Camp Spotlight: Ndakinna Wilderness Camps

Kid with TinderToday’s Mamatoga Camp Spotlight is on the camps offered by the Ndakinna Education Center, an affiliate of the Greenfield Review Literary Center located in Greenfield Center. Ndakinna offers people of all ages unique hands-on learning experiences, principles of indigenous arts of life, team building, character development, and exhibit spaces focusing on regional Native American understandings, Adirondack culture, wilderness skills and awareness of the natural world.

Directed by James Bruchac and facilitated by the Ndakinna Education Center, participants in these camps learn a variety of wilderness skills such as animal tracking, basic to advanced wilderness skills from shelter building and land navigation to bow and hand-drill fires as well as take part in Native American storytelling, arts, crafts and games.

PR02831074818 Jim TeachingAlong with being staffed by expert wilderness staff, Ndakinna camps play host to a variety of special guest including some of the Northeast’s best Native American storytellers and folkartists. Most camps take place at the Marion F. Bruchac Memorial Nature Preserve in Greenfield Center, New York with plenty of forest to explore as well as a full-scale Native American elm-bark covered wigwam. Through the various activities participants will gain a greater respect and understanding for the Natural World as well as the Northeast’s rich Native American history. 2-6 day camps covering each skill and activity in greater detail. Most camps are limited to 20 participants each, divided by age levels, each age level builds on the last. See Ndakinna Education Center Events Calendar for complete descriptions. Camps are open to both boys and girls.

992888_10151505976297032_1857141983_n 994533_10151503634137032_707039372_n 1098359_10151519734997032_76608952_nHere is some info on what they have to offer for the summer, click here for more information and to register.

Kid’s Wilderness & Storytelling Camp (Ages 6-8)

7/14-18 Session 1: (Mon-Fri) – $275 (9am to 4pm)
7/21-25 Session 2:(Mon-Fri) – $275 ($525 for any two sessions)
7/28-8/1 Session 3:(Mon-Fri) – $275 ($775 for all three sessions)

Five days of outdoor fun including wilderness skills, animal tracking, Native American games, storytelling and daily visits to our adventure challenge course. Taking place at the Ndakinna Education Center with miles of nature trails, Native American wigwams, and other educational exhibits. In case of bad weather programming will take place inside our Education center with 3,200 square feet of teaching space. Session 2 builds on Session 1 with plenty of new stories and activities.Session 3 builds on two. If possible, first time campers should start with session one. Returning campers can take their pick. Bring a bag lunch and dress for the outdoors. $15 off for each additional immediate family member.

Wilderness Adventure Day Camp (Ages 9-11)

7/14-18 Session 1:(Monday-Friday) – $300 (9am to 4pm)
7/21-25 Session 2:(Monday-Friday) – $300 ($550 for any two sessions)
7/28-8/1 Session 3:(Monday-Friday) – $300 ($800 for all three sessions)

A full week of wilderness skills, Native American games, group challenges, Animal Tracking, nature awareness, hiking, Native stories and daily visits to our adventure challenge course. Also included is a full-day of flat water kayaking. In case of bad weather programming will take place inside our Education center. Session 2 includes a wealth of new skills, stories, and activities. Bring a bag lunch and dress for adventure. $20  off for each additional immediate family member.

Wilderness Adventure Day Camp (Ages 11-14)

7/14-18 Session 1:(Monday-Friday) – $300 (9am to 4pm
7/21-25 Session 2:(Monday-Friday) – $300 ($550 for any two sessions)
7/28-8/1 Session 3:(Monday-Friday) – $300 ($800 for all three sessions)

A full week of wilderness skills, Native American games, group challenges, Animal Tracking, nature awareness, hiking, Native stories and daily visits to our adventure challenge course. Also included is a full-day of flatwater kayaking. In case of bad weather programming will take place inside our Education center. Session 2 includes a wealth of new skills, stories, and activities. Bring a bag lunch and dress for adventure.  $20  off for each additional immediate family member.

Jr. Pathfinders Wilderness Training [Ages 10 -12 ]

(OVERNIGHT) 8/4-6 | (Mon – Wed) $275 9:00 am (Mon) – 4:00 pm (Wed).

Run by Ndakinna Director James Bruchac, This program is made for kids who want to learn some serious wilderness skills including spending at least one night in a shelter of their own construction. During these three days participants will learn both basic-advanced wilderness survival, animal tracking and awareness skills. Participants will also take part in both day and night wilderness awareness activities and Native games. Bring a bag lunch for Wednesday. Participants must provide their own camping gear.  $15 off for each additional immediate family member.

Pathfinders Wilderness Training and Adirondack Canoe Trip

[Ages 12 -16] (OVERNIGHT) 8/4-9 (Monday – Saturday) $600

Led by Ndakinna Director James Bruchac participants will learn a host of ancient and modern wilderness skills from the tracking of wild animals to survival skills such as shelter making, land navigation, and fire by friction. Along with plenty of hiking and off-trail exploration participants will take part in numerous basic to advanced awareness activities and games (day& night) as well as enjoy Native American Tales around the glow of the campfire. Transportation to and from the Adirondacks is provided from Ndakinna. Participants must provide their own camping gear. Space is limited – sign up now! $25 off for each additional immediate family member.

Martial Arts and Wilderness Camp [Ages 8-12]

8/12-15 (Tuesday-Friday) $225

Led by Ndakinna Director and fifth degree black belt James Bruchac and other trained staff, participants will learn the basics of kyokushin Karate, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and self-defense. Between training sessions, participants will also enjoy Native American storytelling and wilderness activities in the surrounding nature preserve. These team-based activities and native games have a special focus on leadership and character development. The martial arts portion contains partner drills, but will no full out sparring. Camp runs Tuesday thru Friday, August 12-15 from 9:00-4:00. Cost is $225 and each participant will take home the provided Martial arts attire. Participants should bring a bag lunch and dress for the outdoors. No prior experience is required!  $15 off for each additional immediate family member.

In addition to their Summer Camps they also have some great upcoming Spring Camps, click here for more info. For more camp spotlights and info on local programs, click here for the 2014 Mamatoga Camp Guide.

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{maple} weekend in photos

It was a touch rainy on Sunday but we were determined to make it to part of Maple Weekend so we drove up to the (not very far) Maple Valley Farm in Corinth. They had a tent set up with picnic tables inside where we got some of the most amazing pancakes I’ve ever had with their fresh, warm maple syrup (we had to buy extra syrup to bring home, it was that good).

Even with the drizzling rain it felt really good to just be outside, and the hayride took us to the top of a small hill, at the bottom of which was the Maple Sugar House. We took our time making our way down the hill, the kids collecting rocks from the tiny stream that had worked it’s way down the hill. They all loved the big whooshes of steam from the house, and we tasted some very fresh just made syrup while learning about the taps they use for the trees.

Afterward, Jack took a tremendous face plant directly into the deepest mud puddle in a ten mile radius and I thought we were going to have to call it a day, but in true toddler form he rallied, let Papa wash his hands off in a puddle and even took his first pony ride, which he loved. Levy got to pet Lady the bunny and Finn was satisfied with two very full pockets stuffed with special rocks he had collected. I even got to meet a few Mamatoga readers, which was really nice, and all in all it was quite a successful outing, even if I do have the wash the muddy carseat cover…

mw3mw11mw44mw33mw54mw5mw12mw1mw2

 

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Weekend Recipe: Pear & Apple Crumble {with Homemade Whipped Cream}

Screenshot 2014-03-30 15.27.30I am not a chef, my brother is. I am barely a cook, to tell you the truth, and I am one of those people that needs recipes. I like recipes too, I like the whole ritual of it all. I leaf through the book, finding the one I want to make, then go shopping for the ingredients, get them all set up and then take my time to make sure I do all the steps correctly. Once I’ve mastered a certain dish I might play around with it, add or subtract ingredients to make it my own, but for the most part I am a recipe follower and I have no shame in admitting that.

When I first had kids I didn’t know how to cook much, especially kid friendly food. My mother found this little British recipe book and I just adore it. The dishes are all simple and wholesome, easy to make and palatable for little ones. My favorite recipe is the Pear, Apple and Raspberry Crumble. I have adapted this to suit our own taste (no raspberries) and I do add rhubarb when I can get it at my father’s farm or the farmers’ market.

For this recipe, I bought all of the ingredients at Healthy Living Market and Cafe, they had some gorgeous organic pears and I adore their bulk section, I scooped out some fresh brown sugar, flour and oats. What is great about their bulk section is you can get as much or as little as you need, and it is also really affordable. The heavy cream and butter were from Healthy Living Market and Cafe as well, and I feel like using good quality butter (Kate’s butter is delicious) and cream really make a huge difference in this simple recipe.

crumble1ingredients:

  • three apples, peeled and chopped (use one less apple if adding rhubarb or berries)
  • two ripe pears, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

for the crumble topping:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 ounces of cold butter, cut into small pieces (make SURE it is cold butter, not softened)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of oats

crumble2photo 4recipePreheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the sugar over the chopped fruit and mix together with the apples and pears in an oven safe dish, I use an 8 x 8 baking dish.

For the crumble, mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter with your fingers to resemble large breadcrumbs. There is a little bit of a simple technique with the crumble. Start gently, trying not to smush the tiny cubes of butter but rather coat them all with the butter, separating the cubes so they don’t turn into bigger clumps. At first it won’t turn very crumbly, but you just have to keep at it, gently rubbing the crumbs in your hands. I usually push a handful together in between my hands and then separate them again and just when you feel like this mixture will NEVER become crumbs, viola! It will all start coming together nicely (this makes it sound much more tedious than it is, it really only takes about five to ten minutes, the important thing is to not give up when it doesn’t look crumby yet).

This is when you add in the brown sugar and the oats, again gently, keeping the crumbs nice and crumby. Spoon the crumbs over the top of the fruit mixture and bake for about 30-35 minutes, the crumb topping should be nice and golden brown but not too brown, and the fruit should be bubbling up nicely around the edges.

crumble7For the whipped cream, start with two cups of cold heavy cream and add two tablespoons of sugar, a dash of vanilla if you’d like. Start whipping it with a hand mixer on high for a few minutes, tasting as you go along. I prefer my whipped cream not too sweet, but you can add as much sugar as you’d like (slowly, add about a half tablespoon at a time and mix and taste in between). Beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Lick the beaters or hand them off to eager tasters (I usually have three small eager tasters and one very tall eager taster who are happy to take them off my hands).

dessertThis crumble is best served warm, topped with the whipped cream and some vanilla ice cream as well. Like I said the best part is that you can add in different fruit, this is such a fun little recipe to play around with and highlight the new fruits that come into season. Enjoy! xoxo

 

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jackme and baby Jack when he was born, click here to read more on how I feel about “post-baby bodies” and how we view them in tabloid culture in my piece on The Huffington Post…

xoxo

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Common Core Testing: Local Family’s Experience with Refusing the Test

commoncoreCommon Core is a hot topic amongst parents of school aged kids right now, especially as the time for testing draws near. In case you haven’t heard of it or are unsure exactly what “Common Core” entails, here is a little background.

“Common Core” is just a shortened version of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The state-run program, which was first proposed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, is intended to introduce a single set of newer, more challenging standards for math and language arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. Prior to Common Core, every state set its own academic standards. Proponents of Common Core argue that the new standards, which ostensibly require critical thinking and analytical skills, will make students globally competitive in a rapidly shifting economy. The standards are also accompanied by new standardized tests.

The new standards, which were approved by 45 states and the District of Columbia and are now being implemented across the country (though some states are reconsidering), also have their fair share of opponents. Many argue that the standards, especially for young children, are not developmentally appropriate. Many also argue against relying on test scores to make critical educational decisions about students or schools – or what is called “high stakes testing”. Common examples include retaining a child in grade or withholding a students high-school diploma solely on the basis their score on a test, or relying on test scores to determine whether a teacher or school should be sanctioned or rewarded.

Opposition to the standards, both their content and their implementation, has been growing in New York (and other states) among teachers, principals, superintendents and parents, some of whom have refused to allow their children to take the exams (testing begins in third grade). To read more about the Common Core, click here to read my piece in Mamatoga Magazine.

While there is no provision to opt out of these tests, parents do have the right to refuse them. Under NY state’s education law, there is a difference between refusing to take the test vs. opting out. Essentially, parents can participate in a civil disobedience movement by refusing to allow their children to take the tests. Refusing the testing has no affect on the children’s score, on the school or on the teachers.

The tests under the standardized system begin April 1st, and I wanted to find a local family that had taken the refusal route to see what the process was like. I spoke to Trent and Tara Sano who chose to refuse the testing for their son Carter, and have said that the experience for them has been very positive, citing a good relationship and open communication between their principal and teacher.

What was the process of refusing the test like? Was it easy to do, was the school/teacher accepting of the refusal, was there an open communication about the refusal?

We were fortunate enough to have a relationship with the school principal.  I sent an email letting him know that I’d be refusing the test on our son’s behalf and asked him how he’d like me to proceed in order to be as respectful as possible to the school and teacher.  He asked if we could sit down for a 15-minute meeting when I dropped off my letter, which we did.  We agreed to disagree on the necessity and usefulness of the test, but ensured we were on the same page about what both parties’ responsibilities were.

What was the dialogue like between you and your child about refusing the test?

We explained why we thought the test – in its current form – wasn’t right for him and, while we felt the same was true for other kids, we were only able to do what we thought was best for him.  We told him he had a responsibility to try just as hard – if not harder – on test practice and preparation, and we asked him not to share with other kids that he wasn’t taking the test, as we wanted to cause as little disruption in the classroom as possible.

Are there other parents you know that have also refused?

Yes, my sister (who is a middle school teacher) and a good friend (a former Elementary teacher) have both refused and helped us as resources.

What will your child be doing instead of taking the tests?

He’ll be reading at his desk.  While we wanted the opportunity for him to go to a separate location and/or have some other engaging activities, we understand that the school’s only responsibility is to not have him “sit and stare”.  And they’ve committed to allow him to read during the time.

Do you have any resources (online or otherwise) that you felt were helpful with this process?

There are so many resources it’s easy to get lost.  www.fairtest.org has tons of good resources.

What would you tell parents who are considering refusing the test?

Do your research, connect with someone who has done it in the past, and be very respectful and communicative with the school.  But, most importantly, ensure your reasons for refusing are in your child’s best interest and not because it’s becoming more trendy to do so.  Just because you disagree with Common Core or the direction of our state or federal education doesn’t mean refusing right now is what’s best for your child.  It may cause some children more harm than good.  Don’t make it a political or social statement – really look deeper at the reasoning and goal.

Many thanks to the Sanos for speaking with me and sharing their experience. If you’d like to share your experience, contact me at jenny@mamatoga.com to be included in upcoming posts in this continued series on the Common Core in our schools.

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#40Bags40Days

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAclick here for more #40Bags40Days

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Mamatoga Camp Spotlight: Riding Camp at North Country Horses

1080709_454046368028064_279271040_nWe are a horse family, and I have been riding since I was a child, so I was super excited to send my kids to horse camp at North Country Horses. I have known North Country Horses owner Amanda since I moved to the area, and she is one of my favorite people.

Located not far from Saratoga Springs in Gansevoort, the North Country Horses Summer Camp is a full day camp (camp hours are from 9am-4pm) for both experienced and new riders, where days are filled with horse activities geared towards developing riders into accomplished horse people. The rider must be 5 or older by their camp week, and kids are grouped according to skill level during lessons.

Part of what I love about camp, and about horseback riding for kids in general, is that along with the fun they also learn a lot about responsibility. They learn how to care for the animals and all pitch in to complete the work it takes around the barn from feeding them and getting them water to helping get them ready to ride. From the first feeding in the morning until it’s time to go home in the afternoon, the focus is on horses. Their unique program provides each camper the opportunity to care for a horse for the week. Levy would come home talking endlessly about Isabella, the horse she was taking care of for the week, and all the things that went into making sure Isabella was well taken care of. Campers are introduced to the many aspects of horse care and handling and learn how to handle and care for horses and tack in a safe and proper manner.

10008337_10202084224480037_1805366747_n 1974486_10202084220119928_1048027965_nGames and crafts round out the week and give the kids some downtime in between riding and caring for the horses. Levy’s favorite part was the “painting the pony” day where everyone gets to paint one of the white horses and the photo album she made at the end of the week full of photos from her experience.

I felt like the horsemanship camp gave Levy (who was 5 when she started camp last year) a great dose of self confidence which she needed as she started kindergarten. She felt capable and proud of herself for being able to haul the water buckets and find the tack and being able to do these things on her own, and she loved showing off her new riding skills. She also made a lot of friends, and was sad to see the week end, making me promise to send her back the next summer (we are already all signed up).

Here are some details on camp for 2014:

There are 8 sessions of Summer Camp on the following dates:

Session 1 July 7th – July 11th
Session 2 July 14th – July 18th
Session 3 July 21st – July 25th
Session 4 July 28th – August 1st
Session 5 August 4th – August 8th
Session 6 August 11th – August 15th
Session 7 August 18th – August 22nd
Session 8 August 25th – August 29th

A $50 non-refundable deposit and completed registration forms are required to hold your spot and the remaining amount is due 30 days before camp begins. The cost of camp is $300.00 per session and discounts are available for children participating in more than one session, children who have siblings attending, as well as children who are current boarders or leasers.

If you sign up before March 30th, receive $25.00 off! They also have a before and after camp program which will run from 8-9 am and 4-6 pm. Before or after camp will be an additional $50 per session or $90 for both am and pm after care.

For more information visit North Country Horses here, and here on facebook.

For more Camp Info click here to visit my Camp Guide!

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Do This as a Family: Maple Weekends

mapleJust like apple picking once fall hits and cutting down your own Christmas tree, Maple Weekends are right up there for a great family outing where you can get out there in the fresh air that also has the promise of something sweet and delicious as a treat. During Maple Weekend, producers from across the state welcome families to their farms to experience firsthand how real, mouth-watering maple syrup and other related products are made. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy fun, family-friendly activities, taste New York’s freshest maple syrup and purchase your favorite maple products. Click here to visit the NY Maple Weekend website which has tons of listings for places to visit, as well as a listing of the places that offer pancake breakfasts.

There are a few different options for a Maple Weekend day trip this coming weekend that aren’t too far away (and are also a very pretty drive to boot):

  • At Mapleland Farms in Salem you can join them on Saturday or Sunday for a hearty pancake breakfast served from 9am to 1 pm. They serve an all-you-can eat breakfast of sausage, pancake and farm fresh syrup right off the evaporator. They will be open each day until 4 pm for tastings and tours of their sugaring operation. Tours are free, and the breakfast cost is based on age.
  • Dry Brook Sugar House also in Salem serves a Pancake Breakfast featuring fresh hot maple syrup. They also offer horse drawn sleigh / wagon rides (weather permiting).
  • At Maple Valley Farm in Corinth they are having a Maple Weekend Celebration this Saturday and Sunday, March 29th and 30th. Located at 84 Harris Road in Corinth they will be boiling syrup and giving sugar house tours, hayrides, Dan Dan the Mountain Man, the bee hive display and the play area for kids. They have maple, honey products, Adirondack pictures, Handmade wood bowl and wood products for sale as well. They will have their famous pancake breakfast with very fresh warm maple syrup on both days as well! Call them at (518) 654-9752 for info and directions.

Want to stay closer to home? On Saturday, March 29th at 2 pm head to Saratoga Spa State Park for their Maple Syrup Workshop where the whole family can discover why sap flows out of the trees and how to make maple syrup. Learn about the history and science behind maple tapping, as well as the process of making maple syrup. Samples will be available in limited quantities and the event is appropriate for all ages. Registration is required, and the fee is $3 per person or $5 per family. Please call 518-584-2000 Ext. 150 to register.

 

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