Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Whatcom County Winter Sports Lessons

In the winter months, it’s sometimes hard to get motivated for physical activity. But participating in a winter sport might be just the thing to help keep kids active and having fun through the coldest season of the year. Take a look at some of the options for winter sports lessons available in and around Bellingham and Whatcom County.

Two children ice skating. Take a spin on the ice at the Sportsplex.

Ice Skating

If your kids are interested in skating, head over to the Bellingham Sportsplex. Kids can participate in Public Skate for $4 ($5 for 18 and older), and general admission is only $2 during Community Skate (times are subject to change, check Public Ice Skating for details). Skate rentals are $2.50.

The Sportsplex also offers Learn to Skate basic skills programs that include a weekly 30-minute lesson, 2 practice sessions per week, skate rentals, guest passes, and more. Kids can also hone skills in regularly scheduled drop-in Freestyle sessions, and sign-up for Private Instruction too. Contact the Sportsplex at (360) 676-1919 for details.

If your kids would like to skate competitively, consider joining the Bellingham Figure Skating Club. It’s also a great way to connect with other skaters, swap skate gear, and participate in recitals and competitions. Visit their website to find out more.


Maybe your kids want to hit the ice, but they’re more interested in a flat pass than a triple lutz. Luckily, the Sportsplex also offers hockey lessons. Kids ages 4 to 7 and 8 to 14 can learn basics of the game, signing-up for a season’s 12-week session ($169), or just drop-in ($17.50 per session). And when you register for Learn to Play Hockey, you can participate in weekly “Stick-N-Puck” sessions (regularly $5).

Full gear is required for participation in youth hockey programs. Call (360) 676-1919 to sign-up or get more information.

A boy snowboards on a snowy mountain. Kids and adults can take skiing and snowboarding lessons at Mt. Baker.


Living in the shadow of Mount Baker means that skiing and snowboarding lessons are just a quick drive across Whatcom County. The Mt. Baker Ski Area offers lessons to kids ages 7 to 15 for seven weeks in their Komo Kids Program. These classes cover basics and include more advanced skills as kids make progress. Participants also get to take part in Kids Komo Race Day, which includes a race, barbecue, music, and tug-o-war.

Mt. Baker also offer ski lessons for kids ages 5 to 6 in a program called Dads, Moms & Groms, which includes three sessions and allows parents to teach their kids with the help of an instructor. Class sizes are limited to four parent/child teams, and lessons focus on making the learning process fun for the whole family.

Kids can follow up both programs with the 3-week Spring Fling session (starts March 15, 2009) so they can continue developing ski and snowboard skills in the mild spring weather.

And keep in mind for next season that middle and high school skiers and snowboarders might be interested in the Winter Ride Program, which provides a chaperoned bus ride to and from the Heather Meadows Base Area and includes lessons and rentals (if desired).

You can sign-up for Komo Kids and Winter Ride at the Mt. Baker Online Store. Contact the Bellingham General Business Office at (360) 734-6771 to register for Dads, Moms & Groms and other programs. Remember that season passes and lift tickets are not included in instructional program rates, and don’t miss out on Mt. Baker’s 5th Graders Free Program, which allows skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 9 and 11 to get a free lift ticket during the ski season.

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Celebrate Bellingham 2008

LLooking for something to do with the kids during the last days of 2008? Bellingham parents will be stoked to learn that Bellingham Parks and Recreation and local organizations are hosting a variety of events that the whole family can enjoy, with lots of free activities all around town to keep the kids busy during the hazy days leading up to New Year’s Day. From music to magic to ice skating, there is something for everyone of every age.

Celebrate Bellingham 2008 Have some fun with Celebrate Bellingham 2008.

Admission to the Whatcom Children’s Museum will be free from Saturday December 27 to Wednesday December 31 (closed on Monday December 29), so you can enjoy their “By the Bay: Working on the Waterfront” exhibit. They will also feature special afternoon performances by the Museum’s Magnificent Magician, Clay Martin’s Puppet Theatre, and Charlie Williams—the Noise Guy.

The Whatcom Museum will also offer musical performances by local artists, such as Dana Lyons, Prozac Mountain Boys, and Juba Marimba, that will appeal to grown-ups and kids alike. Admission to the Whatcom Museum is always free.

And there are several places to visit, if you’re looking for some activities that will get kids moving around. On Tuesday December 30, North Coast Gymnastics will open its doors for free indoor rock climbing and supervised gymnastics. You can also enjoy an afternoon of indoor ice skating at the Sportsplex, then head over to the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center for all-ages open swim in the evening.

You’ll definitely want to swing by the Bellingham Sportplex on New Year’s Eve for the Get Movin’ Kick-Off event with carnival games, face painting, an obstacle course, and more from 6 to 9 PM. The Get Movin’ Program is a countywide initiative to help families stay fit, eat right, and have fun together during the winter. You can sign-up to participate at the kick-off event, and find out about other free events for participating families in January.

And what better way to start off the new year than with a Resolution Walk/Run on January 1 at Lake Padden Park? After the run, the especially brave can join in the annual Polar Dip in the lake. There will be warm showers and goodies to eat under heaters after the cold swim.

For more details about all the events, check out Activities and the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation.

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Santa, Family Traditions, and Responsibilities

Santa Claus leaves presents under a Christmas tree. Do you include Santa Claus in your family’s holiday traditions?

As soon as Halloween is over, Christmas bleeds through the world of marketing and the complaints soon arise. But, it seems to be our annual ritual. While parents may have little hope of changing the trends of media and marketplace, they might be wise to focus their attention on something they have a bit more of a probability of impacting: helping kids understand the value and truth about Santa.

There are many perspectives as to how to celebrate, or even whether to celebrate Christmas and Santa. Christmas as observed in our day is a combination of religious traditions and cultural rites. It is recognized by many families with a combination of seasonal celebrations and mystical stories. The hope is that this piece may provide ideas to consider in developing values that can guide family choices related to Santa as a component of Christmas celebrations.

Here are some points about the positive implications of including Santa in holiday traditions.

  • Santa can be an extension of a family’s religious traditions/faith. In learning the roots of the Santa story, you’ll find that St. Nick is central and thereby this is clearly religious based matter.
  • While not part of everyone’s tradition, Santa (or other similar Christmas figures) is found in many cultures. It is also part of the unique American Christmas history. Culture and traditions are part of what shape and build family dynamics, and Christmas celebrations are often some of the strongest memory builders in a child’s life.
  • Santa is a heroic symbol of having a giving spirit. For some it is about the idea and the story, and it may or may not be faith connected. For these families, the focus of Santa is about communicating values that strengthen family and community, and encourage children to become caring, contributing adults.

As a counterpoint, here are a few examples of complications that can arise from a belief in Santa.

  • Caution may lead a parent to consider, “How does the image of Santa impact my child’s perspective of God?” The idea of a mystical figure that loves and cares for us can create confusion if overstated. The concept of Santa “keeping a list” when transferred to God can also create a judgmental view. Eventually there may be tension when the child learns that Santa is a fable. Some may wonder, based on parents’ presentation, “…if Santa is a story, will they someday tell me that God or Jesus is a story too?”
  • Some kids may struggle with concepts of truth and trust based on how the family practices a Santa tradition. Be careful to develop a healthy balance between family play and fantasy, and “truths.”
  • Santa and Christmas can easily drift from good intentions into another excess of materialism and consumerism. Be careful to keep the work of Santa in balance. Consider what is generous and appreciated, as compared to what is over-indulgent and possibly detrimental.
  • Have a reasonable idea of when and how to help kids transition from a childish belief in Santa to a realistic understanding and acceptance of the story. A friend, Kristi, tells the story of her school teacher calling her parents to express the need for them to inform Kristi, then ten years old, of the Santa reality (or lack of reality). The teacher feared that Kristi’s intense defense of Santa as real might result in a conflict with other students. I doubt many parents want Santa to go from a fun family tradition to a classroom scandal.

In all, I think that Santa and Christmas offer great opportunities to strengthen family ties and learn deeper values. Making international choices about the why and how a family celebrates Santa can enhance the experience for all.

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