Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vacations with Kids: The 'Stay-Cation'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Vacations with Kids: The 'Stay-Cation'

Article excerpt

Ah, summer vacation! With gas prices pushing $4 a gallon and the once-friendly skies full of congestion and delays, many folks may be thinking twice about what to do during those few precious weeks.

My nephew, James Marks, would like to offer an idea: a stay- cation. That's right, a vacation where you stay right at home. James first heard the word from his third-grade teacher, and it has appeared in the occasional travel column over the past year or so. But the idea was vague. So James would like to clarify just what constitutes a stay-cation. And, with the help of a travel expert, explain to parents everywhere why a stay-cation can be as educational and character-building as, say, a rather pricier trip to the Louvre.

First, James would like to start with the obvious.

"On a stay-cation you get to sleep as late as you want," he says after his aunt wakes him up at 8 a.m. on a Friday of his spring break. "Like for me, this is really late."

Another benefit is breakfast. His mother, who always insists on whole grains and no sugary cereals, allows James and his brother a sweet treat on stay-cation: "Cap'n Crunch" - albeit with organic milk.

"Sweet," says James, pouring himself a bowl. Then there's just hanging around the yard, pitching baseballs, practicing batting, and knocking around with a basketball.

"And then you can have your friends over," he says.

Indeed, his friend Will does come over. They have a toy-sword fight, then head to the woods, where they start to cut a path to another friend's house but get diverted by the discovery of a cave in some rocks. And all of this before 10:30 in the morning.

"Between the baseball and the soccer and one kid doing this and the other that, [children] are so scheduled it's like they never get to stop," says Donna Simpson, the executive director of Connecticut's Eastern Regional Tourism District. …

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