Family Time Family Time 3/7/16

Herald Journal Publishing, Inc. PO Box 129 Winsted, MN 55395 PRESORT STANDARD ECRWSS U. S. POSTAGE PAID Herald Journal Publishing Inc. Postal Customer Family Time March 7, 2016 Timely information for today’s busy local families Happy campers F amilies share tips and ideas for close-to-home getaways BY STARRLA CRAY Associate Editor For many families in the area, there’s no need to travel far to have a good time. “We started camping when our daughter was 1.5 years old,” Amy Bettcher of Lester Prairie said. “When the kids were little, their favorite spot was Baylor [Regional] Park.” Bettcher remembers her husband taking the children for walks on the floating boardwalk, and seeing how many frogs and turtles they could count along the way. Although their daughter Bethany is now 18, and their son Nick is 21, the family still likes to camp together. Each September, they look forward to a trip to Baylor Regional Park with a group of friends from Lester Prairie. “We have a theme every year, and decorate our campers,” Amy said, explaining that they have someone from the park judge them. The winner gets a trophy, created by the previous year’s winner. “The first year we did a Hawaiian theme,” Amy said. “We’ve had Christmas, Halloween, and one year we had a redneck theme. We get kind of into it.” For the Christmas theme, for instance, the group had a white elephant gift exchange, made a Christmas dinner, and baked Christmas cookies. Camping close to home works well for families with kids or grandkids who are busy with school activities. Bethany, for example, is a senior at Lester Prairie High School, and was part of the royalty court for homecoming week. Although the Bettcher family was camping that weekend, they were still able to attend the parade and football game. Biking and swimming Matt Tonn of Lester Prairie and his wife, Melissa, like to take their children (ages 14, 12, and 11) to Flandrau State Park in New Ulm. “We enjoy the peacefulness of the park (and the beach), and also some of the attractions nearby such as the Herman Monument and the August Schell Brewing Company gardens,” Matt noted. “Plus, it’s only about an hour away.” The beach at Flandrau State Park features a chlorinated, sandbottom swimming pool that’s open from Memorial weekend to mid-August. “We’ve gone there for years,” Matt said, adding that the campground’s quiet trails were great for his kids when they were learning how to ride bikes. Colbie and Layna Ernst, the granddaughters of Gary and Denise Ernst of Lester Prairie, also learned how to ride bikes while on camping trips. “Layna has been camping with us since she was about 2,” Denise said, adding that Layna is now 9, and her sister, Colbie, is 6. The family typically goes to Baylor Regional Park early in the season for biking and walking, and spends time at Collinwood Regional Park near Cokato when it’s swimming weather. “Collinwood has a nice beach and playground,” Denise said, explaining that it’s a convenient location for the girls, who live in Cokato. Because they camp close to home, the family is able to go on 12 to 15 trips per year. The weather is usually good, and they have fun even when it rains. “We’ve got boots and umbrellas, and the girls have coloring books and movies,” Denise said. In nice weather, most campers spend as much time as they can outdoors. Popular activities at Baylor Park, for example, include beanbag toss tournaments, volleyball games, scavenger hunts, disc golf, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, and checking out Onan Observatory. “We don’t leave the campground once we’re there,” Denise said. “We bring a grill and cook everything there. The girls are now old enough to help with breakfast – Colbie makes pancakes, and Layna makes the scrambled eggs.” Campers big and small Years ago, when Denise and her husband first started camping, they traveled by motorcycle and slept under the stars. Now, in addition to motorcycle trips, they have a comfortable fifth-wheel camper that features a queensized bed, couch, table, kitchen, and bathroom. Jeff Gordon, a 2005 DasselCokato High School graduate, builds and sells campers with room for two to four people. The business, called The Little Camper, caters to people who may not have a vehicle to pull a large camper. “Business has been good,” Jeff said. “It’s pretty much non-stop this time of year. We’re loving it.” Jeff and his wife, Leanne Harper, are excited to take their 14month-old son on more camping trips this summer. “We want to do a lot of hiking, and stop to let him explore and get in touch with nature,” Jeff said. “We want to create those memories with him.” ‘We have a theme every year and decorate our campers’ – Amy Bettcher, LP resident Jeff Gordon, a 2005 graduate of Dassel-Cokato High School, builds small campers that can be towed by almost any car or truck. SUBMITTED PHOTO Long Term Care Close to Home! PERSONALIZED SENIOR LIVING We are here to help with this difficult decision. Before you call a nursing home, see what Cedar Crest can offer at a lower price! � We provide ALL Levels of Care! • All Private Rooms with suites available • Memory Care Unit at no extra cost • Medicaid Residents Welcome • Personalized 24 Hour Care • 33 Services and Amenities INCLUDED in our LOW Base Rate! Gary Ernst of Lester Prairie and his granddaughters, Layna and Colbie Ernst of Cokato, love camping at Collinwood Regional Park each summer. SUBMITTED PHOTO Cosmos • 130 Neptune St. N • 320-877-9100 Silver Lake • 1401 Main St. W • 320-327-6577 A Place to Call Home! Call today with questions or to schedule a personal tour! Papa’s Shoe R