We debated a bit before the trip began, but ultimately we decided to trade familiarity for money in our pockets, and reserved our annual week at the Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs, Vermont. The price tag is admittedly high, but the family-run resort is the best place in the world to take a vacation rather than a trip with your children. The Tyler family has run this resort for 80+ years (I remember the current owner’s mother from when I was a little girl), and they do a great job of making their guests feel like part of the family. We love Ted, Cathy, Chad, Quentin, Julie, Hector, Charlotte, and the rest of the Tyler gang. Our family has been going pretty much every year without fail since Elizabeth was not quite three years old (including the year in which I was almost 9 months pregnant with Julianna). This was my 16th summer at Tyler Place (6 as a kid and 10 as an adult) and it is my Happy Place.
What sets Tyler Place apart is that your kids go off to their incredible and varied kids programs (there are groups spanning no more than two years/grade levels for kids ages 0-15) with warm, loving counselors and the kinds of activities we grew up doing (or wishing we had done). My kids have played Kick the Can and SPUD, built rafts and then tested them to see if they would float, built forts in the woods, learned silly songs, and played epic games of Capture the Flag. The kids go to morning program from 8:30 to 1:30, and then they go back to evening program from 5:30 to at least 8:30 (maybe later, depending on their ages). What this means in practical terms for parents is 21 meals without your children… In other words, at dinner time, you drop your kids off at group and then head to what I like to call “Grown Up Group” — in other words, cocktail hour followed by dinner.
While the kids are off doing activities during the day, the adults are free to do — or not do — various adult activities ranging from yoga to arts and crafts to cooking to canoe, kayak, and mountain bike outings. In the family-together afternoons, we took the kids for pony rides, to try sawing a giant piece of wood, to hammer nails into a log, to the pool, banana boating, for a bicycling lesson, and so forth although every afternoon virtually inevitably ends up at the pool/hot tubs/splash pad.
Julianna on a pony ride.
My friend Debbie and I have been friends since we were in first grade together. She’s come to Tyler Place with us each year since the birth of her oldest daughter, who is the same age as Julianna. They’re best buddies at Tyler Place each summer, and otherwise wouldn’t see much of each other, as Debbie lives outside Boston, and we are normally in New Jersey. Debbie and her husband, Dave, kindly fed us when we were up in the Boston area a few weeks earlier.
The splash pad.
The outdoor pool (there’s also an indoor pool).
This year at Tyler Place, I decided to be more active than reading in a hammock (especially since I’d just spent a bunch of time doing that in Maine). I broadened my horizons by firing a shotgun for the first time in my life when I went on the skeet shooting outing, and I worked on my archery skills.
Me, with a shotgun.
The skeet shooting machine.
My Katniss impersonation.
I was also super impressed by these owls that folks made in a fiber arts class (I spent that time sitting in front of the fire, I think, as it was a chilly day).
Tyler Place is one of those parts in my life that I can’t really explain to anyone who hasn’t been there. But if you’re someone who appreciates Podcasts like Campfires and Color Wars, loves camp, and also appreciates good food, interesting people, and adult conversation, Tyler Place is worth a look if you can make it fit into your budget (admittedly sometimes easier said than done). It is our place to recharge as individuals, a couple, and as a family.