Well as you may know by now, we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at our house. We haven’t for several years.
Each year we like to take off to someplace warm for a few days and thaw out from the winter freeze.
This year we had an interruption in our plans. Dylan was nominated by her school to be in the All-State Chorus for 4th, 5th and 6th graders. Their big performance was, you guessed it, the long weekend over Valentines Day; a.k.a. our escape day.
That Valentine’s weekend she actually had to arrive for practice on a Thursday. Then, practice all day Friday with their final performance Saturday morning.
We were very proud and happy for her. Mom drove the kids up after school that day. I drove up and went in to watch them practice after work. I didn’t know what to expect.
What would you anticipate?
When I opened the doors of the First Baptist Church in Columbia, SC all I could think was Wow!
What a huge church and what a spectacular choir loft! My whole church could fit in that choir loft I thought. I was impressed! What a cool site for this special gig for our kids!
And as I watched them practice I became equally impressed the Chorus Director. He coached. He taught. He was high energy yet patient. He spoke to the kids at their level and with some very bright ideas I thought. It turns out this was no simple choir director.
Henry Leck is known world-wide for directing children’s choirs. (who knew?) He has his own children’s choirs in Indianapolis. His back ground and feats was quite lengthy and impressive! He was summed up in his introduction that day as a Rock Star in the field of children’s choirs.
And he had those kids on track!
I tried to get some on tape to remember but my worn out phone was overwhelmed. Needless to say, during the long day of practicing no child was bored or lacked focus and he brought things out of the kid’s voices they were unaware they had.
So here is the final presentation Saturday morning. Can you find little Dylan?
Hint, she’s in the second row.
In a chorus full of 174 talented young 4th, 5th and 6th graders from the state of South Carolina,
could you spot my favorite one?
Well she spotted me and my family.
And she somehow knew I had the camera up looking for her too.
Here is that picture close up….
So it’s by no accident that I post one of my fav songs from the concert first, the last song in the event actually.
You see that morning, as I dropped little D off for her big day, I didn’t know how she was feeling so I offered some advice of just trying to be in the moment, enjoy it, and Have Fun!
Don’t be nervous or anxious (one child actually threw up during rehearsal on Friday). Just enjoy your day and have fun!
In this last song the kids were supposed to snap their fingers. I was kinda disappointed Dylan didn’t join in right away. So I motioned snapping my fingers from my seat in the audience. She saw me right away and just mimicked me and snapped away!
So if you don’t think you can find little D among all these youngsters, look for the one up there swinging her arms, snapping her fingers and swaying her hips and having a good time.
That’s my lil D!
Below is another one of my fav tunes, that actually had me tear up.
Mr. Leck was the one who chose all of the songs for the event and well-chosen they were! If you would like to see more go to my Youtube channel.
In the song below he introduces real well, especially in wake of the tragedy of the shootings in Florida that happened earlier that week….
Like I said, I didn’t know what to expect driving up for this weekend. I was their for support mainly. But the event really Wow’ed me.
Great job everyone!
It turns out this was the first time this event was held in this beautiful church with its wonderful acoustics. It was held in gymnasiums or auditoriums before. Also this was the 20th anniversary for the SC All-State Chorus. Mr. Leck directed the first one, the 10th one’ and now number 20. So I, or we all really lucked out.
Dare I say we, ‘Lecked out?’ 🙂
But our Valentine’s getaway did not end there!
Next we were off to the Great Wolf Lodge; a hotel and resort built for the amusement of kids.
Mom told me I could hang at the gym or the bar if I got too kidded out!
And there were lots of them!
It too was a spectacular place! It reminded me kinda like a cruise. There was a massive check in Saturday, and everyone is herded into certain areas than shuffled off to other areas for other events at various times of the day.
But if you had a child, they were all smiles!
We were walking down the hallway one morning and both our girls were smiling so much they were practically gliding.
It was well done in a Montana type wolf lodge theme…
The rooms were pretty cool too. I guess they might by Suites be definition, as the kids had their own room, designed to look like they were inside a tent..with a TV (!!)
Then, daily they had regular kid activities planned, mostly out in the lobby with the animated log cabin and a cast of characters and animals that would capture a kid’s imagination with an amusing story. Like the storytime I took Skye to that night.
She busted her way upfront and was completely engulfed in the robotics.
They also have a pretty good indoor water park there!
That is the wave pool above. You can also make out some water-coasters too.
Yes, the resort may be for kids but the water Tornado was pretty exciting too as you glided half way up the walls in the down flowing currents.
It was pretty exciting as you swirled around the sides, like riding in a giant toilet.
But the genius part of the Great Wolf Lodge was the Magi and Shadow Quest games that turned the hotel into an enormous treasure hunt activity.
You’ll buy, er, chose a magic wand, top it with extra powers as you find and capture certain magical runes. Then set off on a quest to battle Charlock, the evil dragon, once you have accumulated all the mystical powers needed. You immerse yourself in Vellara, a realm of enchantment, as you befriend the Treetop Pixies, to give them their magical powers back then return special gems to Ursa Major (in order) to restore that bear back to the constellations.
Well, Ursa is when we ran out of time.
We completed about 14 such quests to get to help Ursa, becoming Master Magi(s) status along the way.
You get to decide how much time you want to spend with Magi-Quest, depending on how many quests you undertake at a time. Play can last anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours, er, all evening, as you go for more and more mystical Runes with the aid of your magi-wand and deciphering the clues on where to find these powers. You can always take a break and come back later.
Now these clues for each now Rune (level) were hidden or riddled on three different floors. You usually had to find 5-7 items (treasure hunt) in order to acquire the new power, or Rune. One crystal would be at one side of the hotel, the next crystal on the other side of the hotel, then upstairs to the other side for a painting and then across to the other….
It truly captured (dozens of) kid’s imaginations as they raced through the halls (with their parents) to find the next secret.
They would play, tirelessly, for hours at a time. There seemed to be no end to it.
Their imaginations would be captured any given part of the day and energies worn down to zero.. so they could sleep well through the night.
Add to it the instructions asked you not to use the elevator in the middle of the resort but the stairwells on the sides (ahhhh!!!)
What a workout!
You had a list of clues on where to find all the crystals or amulets or paintings BUT not all information was given (like the Pixie Crystal above). Somethings you had to figure out for yourself!
Or ask the kid that was a step ahead of you what they did.
To defeat the dragon you needed a Powerful Shield, the Frozen Arrow, and the Freezing Spell; three items not easy to come by!
“The order of the Symbols is critical here.
Down the Forgotten Hallway you will find them.
Within a Great Painting these symbols appear.
You will be better served to mind them.”
But what they didn’t tell you is you had to offer these symbols in a certain order at the opening of the Dragon’s gate, plus one symbol not mentioned, to proceed just to wake him up to battle; otherwise he never knew you were there.
Like I said, a great place to be a kid.
As for me, MY special delight was….. are you sitting down…..
delivered right to your door in the morning for a breakfast!
This must be what heaven is like!
So that is where we spent this year’s Valentines Day vacay.
Wonderful singing, fancy hotel rooms, over-chlorinated pools, magical story times, magical quests, and Dunkin Donuts delivered right to my door.
I think this beats Jamaica.
Have a great week knuckleheads!
I’ll try to do better next time!
Today only comes around once in a life time. Make it AMAZING!