By Emily Harrington
What do you do with a dozen rowdy boys (and one brave girl) with energy to burn? Give them a gym filled with padded play equipment, pizza and cake. Success.
We recently attended a 4-year-old boy’s birthday party at the Stephens Family YMCA at 2501 Fields South Drive in Champaign.
The host of the party chose among a list of party packages the YMCA provides. It’s important to note, you don’t have to be a member to host here—you just pay a bit more.
We attended the gymnastics-themed party. These kids bounced, jumped, wrestled and ran until they were literally red in the face. The gymnastics room was basically a gymnasium filled with mats, balance beams, hanging rings, spring boards, uneven bars and the most popular item—a trampoline. Other colorful, soft gymnastics equipment filled the space. The attendees were mostly preschoolers with a few older siblings. All ages had an equally great time. There were a couple little siblings present that also stayed occupied cruising and crawling along the equipment.
Each package contains an hour of activity, an hour in the party area and party invitations with the liability/release waiver on the back. This was nice to receive in advance, so I then had it in hand and didn’t have to fill when out when we got there. You also get all paper goods—tablecloths, napkins, plates, cups, utensils and streamers in one of a dozen colors to pick from. Our host supplemented the décor with added balloons. There were a few staff members present that were hands off, but they still had their eye on things. Setup, supervision and cleanup also comes with the package. A YMCA birthday gift is provided. In this case, the gift was a T-shirt that the host had the kids sign before they left. Our host supplemented with balloons.
All food and drink must be provided by party host. (Except for a collaboration with Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. You basically get a 20 percent discount. The YMCA’s party coordinator will also organize order and delivery.) Our host had pizza delivered, snacks, drinks and cake that we ate at one end of the gym. Although, I think you could just provide drinks and be OK, for the kids are so enamored with the equipment and each other they barely want to stop to eat!
After the activity time was over, the cake devoured and the presents ripped to shreds, the kids just wanted to keep playing. All of the equipment had been cleaned up and put away at this point. Luckily, they kept busy just running around the open gym playing chase for the next 30 minutes. No broken bones, bloody noses or potty accidents! Maybe a few bruises, but that’s part of the uniform. Overall a great success!
If you want your kid tired, full and happy after their party, contact the YMCA to host an event.
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.