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Guest Post

Unplugging: The Gift of Camp

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One thing that has been truly beneficial to me this summer was actually going out of town with OUT my computer.  I got to really enjoy my time with my family.

Here's a great way to do it with your family......

Unplugging: The Gift of Camp 

Throughout the school year our children can be overscheduled, stressed out and plugged in to some or multiple electronic devices. It is pretty unavoidable; between iTouches, iPads, computers, video games and TV, kids spend a good amount of their day "plugged in". Summer is the ideal time to literally unplug your child. There is no homework and the weather is perfect for outdoor fun and learning. When you send your child to camp in Maine, the majority of camps do not allow any electronics whatsoever. At some camps the older kids can listen to music during quiet time in their bunks... but for the most part it's all about enjoying the beauty and nature surrounding them. Ronald Hall camp director of O-AT-KA feels "When you are enjoying what Maine has to offer, you don't need any outside distraction. You learn to appreciate the sounds of the wilderness." Kids these days have a lot of pressure on them, whether it's academically, socially or even when it comes to material objects; there is always competition over who has what. For those glorious weeks they are at overnight camp, they don't have to worry about all that. Everyone is on the same playing field. Pam Cobb, Director of Camp Runoia says "Some campers feel relieved to not be plugged in. They have a chance to decompress." When you give your child the gift of sending them to overnight camp, they grow in so many ways, and unplugging them for that time is priceless. Interacting personally with peers and staff, connecting with the incredible water and nature, encouraging self-discovery and skill development, are all the rewards of unplugging at Maine camps. To find out more about all the amazing overnight camps in Maine, please visit Maine Camp Experience and start planning the best summers of your children's lives now!

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Sponsored by the Role Mommy's writers network. To read personal stories by real camp parents, visit http://www.mainecampexperience.com/camp-reviews/

Luxury Maine Vacation

The east coast always has such gorgeous getaways!  And this vacation in Maine is no different.  Another fave of living in the east coast is how many families that send their kids away to camp!  I grew up camping...my husband?  NOT so much! ha. But I love the thought of Boston being a camper.


Win a Luxury Maine Vacation and Save 25%!

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There's nothing like summertime in Maine! If you've never been to Maine, summer is a magical time to go. If you're contemplating sending your child to overnight camp in Maine, you don't want to miss taking part in this amazing opportunity! Migis Hotels, a collection of award-winning luxury hotels and resorts in Maine, is partnering with MaineCampExperience.com to give away two fabulous vacation packages AND offering 25% off new reservations throughout summer 2011 when touring a Maine Camp Experience member camp this summer. Migis Hotels and The Maine Camp Experience know that summers and camp belong in Maine...and they're sure you'll agree.

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MaineCampExperience.com is a newly launched informational and resource-based website to help parents explore the culture and offerings as well as learn more about visiting overnight camps in the best state to send kids to camp. The website is represented by a community of premier American Camp Association accredited Maine camps that are dedicated to providing children with the highest quality summer camp experiences. Migis Hotels is a collection of luxury hotels and resorts dedicated to creating an unparalleled world of relaxation and recreation at extraordinary waterfront settings in Maine. Breathtaking views, gourmet food, and attentive, personalized service distinguish Migis Hotel Group's portfolio. Each property - including Black Point Inn, Migis Lodge and The Inn at Ocean's Edge - has a unique and distinctive character that conveys a strong sense of place and ensures an authentic Maine experience. As one reviewer said "It's like summer camp for adults!" Visit Maine Camps this Summer and Save on your Stay The best way to explore the wonder of camps in Maine is to visit them with your kids. Plan a family tour at Maine Camp Experience member camps this summer, because families won't want to miss out on the 25% discount Migis is offering on new reservations (subject to availability). Stay at these quintessential Maine hotels and lodges, and tour our camps, to truly understand why Summers and Camp Belong in Maine! Call any of the Migis properties and mention Maine Camp Experience to receive this special offer. Win a Family Summer Vacation in Maine Also at MaineCampExperience.com, families can enter to win one of two complimentary luxury summer vacations valued at up to $5,000 at any of Migis' three award-winning properties. Vacation packages include accommodations, food, and activities for up to 4 people. Families considering a Maine Camp Experience camp for their child in 2012, can schedule a camp tour of any member camp this summer, and be eligible to win the Tour-A-Camp Vacation (drawing will be held on September 1st, 2011.) Families with a child(ren) currently enrolled as a member of a Maine Camp Experience camp are eligible to enter The Camper-Parent-Appreciation Vacation (drawing to be held July 25th, 2011.) For more information about qualifying and entering this exclusive Migis Hotel Group discount offer and luxury vacation drawing, and to learn more about visiting and attending some of America's premier camps in the best state to send kids to camp, families can visit www.MaineCampExperience.com/visit.
For more information on Migis Hotel's award-winning accommodations, visit Migis Hotel Group.

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Disclosure: This compensated post was sponsored by the Role Mommy Writer's Network (www.rolemommy.com).

Mexican Getaway!

A Mexican Getaway by Marcie Pickelsimer Marcie Pickelsimer, founder of Grown in My Heart and a member of the Villa Group travel affiliate network, got the chance to visit Nuevo Vallarta and shares priceless vacation memories and tips.

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I'm beginning to think that living in Mexico might not be so bad as long as I can live at the Del Palmar Flamingos and had my food delivered to me poolside everyday. I don't think Jenny Craig would go for it though and with all the money I've been paying her lately it would be such a waste, wouldn't it? Oh, but I could dream. The entire family returned home last Saturday from Mexico, sun drenched and beer logged (at least the adults, that is). After literally living in paradise for seven days the leaves on the ground were not a welcome sight. But I digress...Since this is a review I'll make it easy and outline a few things. The Food: While the resort only sports two restaurants and two bars (open at different times), the food is fabulous. The Bellavista Restaurant offers a causal breakfast buffet or menu dining, à la carte lunches, and buffet or à la carte dinners with themes such as lobster, Mexican, Argentinian grilled meats, and pasta. The open air Cafe is both pool and beachside and serves pizza, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican items, and tropical drinks (and beer and liquor) from late morning to early evening. The Cafe turns into an Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, at 6 pm for beachfront dining. They serve fabulous pizza, onion rings, quesadillas, and fruit plates. They also have the most incredible gelato. During the day, servers cater to quests every whim: one only has to raise an empty glass or lift an eyebrow to signal their attention. Servers are hospitable, kind, gracious, and very child friendly. Although the all-inclusive information states no tipping the servers do expect tips and because the minimum wage in Mexico is so low we actually didn't mind. It is the way they make their living. The all-inclusive package: My family chose the all-inclusive package because we took two young children and knew they would want to snack during the day. This was actually a great deal for us and in my opinion the only way to go if you eat more than one meal and drink more than two drinks at the resort per day. The daily cost for the all inclusive is $70 for an adult and $35 for a child under 12. When you add up food prices and drink prices it makes complete sense. Additionally, the all-inclusive package includes all of your non-motorized water sports, kids club, and the fitness center. Children's activities:

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I have two boys that LOVE the water but they can only get so much of the beach and the pool. SO, it was a great option for us that the Flamingos had a Kid-Certified Staff. Everyday there were age-specific activities for our seven year old (two was too young). He could make bracelets, paint ceramic animals, play bubbles, join movie time, or even join in some good Pirate fun. During Prime Vacation season they also have Kids Nights that include dinner, arcades, discos and movies. My boys were exhausted by 5 pm because ALL they wanted to do was surf the waves or play in the pool waterfalls. The resort also offers babysitting services which we used once. The service is $15 an hour and if you use it after 10 pm you will also need to pay $15 for a taxi. Pretty reasonable. The babysitter we used was the concierge from the hotel next door (also part of the Villas) who had a child the same age as our oldest. The BEST activity of the week was the Sea Lions. Every Tuesday the resort brings in a Sea Lion named Maggie for all of the hotel guests (and neighboring hotel guests) to see. (It's part of a tour promotion) Maggie was absolutely gorgeous and super sweet. She smiled, gave kisses to Gus, and was a blast to see. Adult Activities: My husband loved the adult activities, as he was able to play some vigorous beach volleyball, pool volleyball, and water polo. The resort also has theme dinners on Sunday nights. It's a little over the top but they have interesting Mexican entertainment, good food, great drinks, and entertainment for the kids. Additional Activities: Because my family was at the resort to review the property the General Manager offered us some fabulous extras so that we could see all the resort had to offer. I would not generally pay for these activities because, well, we can't really afford these extravagances on just my husband's salary. However, I do HIGHLY recommend that if you get the chance to try one or two of these please, do. They were absolutely fabulous. Spa treatment; My husband and I were offered the Honeymoon spa treatment at the Tatewari Spa that would include a European Seaweed Facial, Therapeutic Hot Towel Massage, Tropical Exfoliation, a bottle of champagne and Hors d'oeuvres. It is valued at $225. However, my husband is not really into spas. So, I offered to take my mother who was along for the trip with us. We were able to choose whatever treatment we wanted and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The spa is absolutely beautiful, a little pricey (but they are always offering deals), and the treatments are incredible. We both chose the mud massage and a facial and I honestly LOVED it, as I had never had either. Dinner at La Casona; Um, Heaven? We hired a babysitter for this evening because we wanted to be able to have at least one dinner without a child on our lap or food flung at us. It was well worth it. Chef Eugenio knows his way around organic foods, raw foods, gourmet delights, and even fabulous desserts. The menu includes specials like Kobe beef and his own specialty, Creme Brulee. Dining at La Casona is not included in the all-inclusive. En Villa Dining with Chef Eugenio The Villa La Estancia directly next door to Flamingos is an ownership community that is absolutely divine. We were invited to tour THE Penthouse and enjoy dinner created by Chef Eugenio and his staff. I can't explain how special this was to my family. We were able to enjoy the sunset from the top of the resort, sip a cocktail, and dine with one of Mexico's premier chef's. Cooking Lessons with Chef Eugenio

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The last day of our trip Eric and I had the unique opportunity to have an afternoon cooking lesson with chef Eugenio. Yes, me...the one who does not cook. I actually learned to cut vegetables the correct way, learned a fabulous secret to REALLY good guacamole, and I now have an incredible recipe for Tortilla Soup (that I can't wait to try!). The afternoon included a Personalized Chef Jacket, lunch and wine, a recipe book, diplomas, and the lesson. The afternoon is valued at $200 per couple. You can take a tour of the entire facility online at the Villa Del Palmar Flamingos. *As a member of the Villa Group Travel Affiliate Network, The Villa Group Resorts gave my family the spa treatment, several dinners, the cooking class, and a portion of our stay in return for this review. Visit Marcie online at Grown in My Heart, an adoption community where everyone can grow together.