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Let Your Kids Turn Work Into Play at National Trust Historic Hotels of America

Kids enjoy trying out new roles and learning about work experiences. This summer, you can turn your family vacation into an experience that your kids will treasure for a lifetime. Special programs at select members of National Trust Historic Hotels of America allow kids to be a part of the action, from creating culinary delights for the whole family to greeting guests as an honorary doorman. Kids get the chance to try their hands at a whole host of hotel and resort activities and tasks in supervised programs that are designed to both entertain and enlighten them. For more details on each of these programs, contact the hotel directly.

At the Fairmont San Francisco in San Francisco, doormen have welcomed presidents, world leaders and the Hollywood elite for more than a century. Now, children can experience the thrill of greeting guests from around the world as a Doorman for a Day. Sporting an official doorman cap, kids can hail a cab while blowing their keepsake whistle. Mom and dad can capture the moment on a commemorative Fairmont camera. This program is complimentary to guests of the hotel, including “kids” of all ages.

Kids will think The Peabody Memphis in Memphis, Tenn., is just “ducky.” For decades, the hotel has been home to the famed Peabody ducks, a collection of feathered friends who reside on the hotel’s rooftop and parade daily to the lobby fountain. The hotel employs a uniformed Duckmaster who cares for the ducks and escorts them to and from the fountain each day. The Peabody’s Ducky Day Family package lets children act as the Duckmaster’s Assistant, marching the ducks on one of their daily treks. The package also lets visitors explore the city by land and water with tickets for the Duck tour. It is priced at $290 per night for a family of three and $330 per night for a family of four.

The Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vt., offers a Junior Staff Program that allows children 12 and over to choose to “work” in a department for two hours and learn how it’s really done. Positions available are bellman, hostess, boat captain, gardener, bag boy, front desk and host/owner (available positions are subject to change.) For budding journalists, the Teen Escape encourages teens to play reporter during their stay, reporting the news on special events, biggest fish stories and/or anything else that is fit to print. The information is compiled into a newsletter prior to departure for them to take home as the memories of their vacation. Click here to view a sample of the "Teen Breeze" newsletter from Basin Harbor Club.

At Skytop Lodge in Skytop, Pa., the kids are truly cooking up something special. The Kids Cook in the Clouds package (November 30 to December 2, 2007) gives children the chance to plan and execute a dinner party, from beginning to end. Children ages 7-10 will create invitations, set the table and select the menu. Older children, ages 11-14, don an apron and actually prepare the meal. All participants invite his or her family to share the finished meal. Teaching a child to cook not only passes on culinary techniques, it enhances life skills such as timing, responsibility, coordination and attention to detail. Teaching a child to plan a dinner party helps them share the pleasures of good food, table manners and entertaining.

The Junior Naturalist Experience at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, N.Y., helps children see nature with new eyes and appreciate the world around them. This summer, daily events include climate lessons that feature instruction in using weather instruments and taking scientific readings, flora and fauna expeditions, and the creation of a rain gauge. Children can take home their rain gauges, along with a special chart, an official Junior Naturalist certificate and an eco-kit that allows them to continue their naturalist activities. The program is designed for children ages 4–12 and is complimentary to overnight guests of Mohonk Mountain House. Activities change on a seasonal basis.

The Jekyll Island Club Hotel on Jekyll Island, Ga., offers many opportunities for family fun. This summer, the Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Center will open within walking distance from the hotel. Children enrolled in Club Juniors, the hotel’s day camp for children ages 5-12, will help with various projects at the center. Nighttime turtle walks on the beach are popular, but the lights can be confusing and disorienting to the turtles. The children will create colored filters that can be fitted on to flashlights, essentially muting the bright beams. This is just one project that encourages interest in these magnificent creatures, while at the same time keeping them safe.

The Barn Buddies program at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H., strives to build essential skills in budding equestrians. This hands-on session in the resort’s stables allows kids to assist the staff with horse care and maintenance. Following a lesson in equestrian skills, kids are ready to hit the trails. A similar program at Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg, Ariz., encourages youngsters to nurture and care for horses. Kids generally ride the same horse throughout their stay and are responsible for the animal’s grooming. In addition, they learn the basics of equine care from the ranch’s professional staff.

For more information about these properties, visit the individual resort websites or the National Trust Historic Hotels of America website at www.historichotels.org.

Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Historic Hotels has identified more than 200 hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. To be selected for this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized as having historic significance. A directory of member hotels can be purchased for $4.00 by sending a check to National Trust Historic Hotels of America, P.O. Box 320, Washington, D.C. 20055-0320. Rooms at any of the member hotels can be reserved by calling 800-678-8946 or at www.historichotels.org. Reservations made through Historic Hotels of America support the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization of 200,000 members that provides leadership, education and advocacy to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities. Historic Hotels of America is aligned with Historic Hotels of Europe, a federation of 16 European hotel associations in 16 countries, and with Historic Hotels of Mexico, an association of hotels and restaurants located in buildings of historical significance including haciendas, palaces, monasteries, convents, fortresses, country estates and more.

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