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Family Reunion Forum

Have a Child-Friendly Family Reunion

This came from Ebony Magazine.....

ONE of the most difficult tasks in planning a family reunion is creating space and excitement for children of all ages. We've all witnessed reunion disaster--children running around the hotel or jumping in and out of the hotel swimming pool without supervision or sitting around bored out of their minds.

The wise family reunion planner can prevent these disastrous situations and make their event one to remember for everyone by planning a children-friendly reunion that entertains and informs everyone.

Whether it's a trip to the zoo or amusement park, putting together the family tree or planning a video game tournament, experts say that family reunion organizers should plan activities that include and focus on the youngest generation.

Daphne Brown-Williams of Bellwood, Ill., a Chicago suburb, is the president of the Brown Family Reunion that will be held this month at the Lake Tiak-O'Khata Resort in Louisville, Miss. The organizing committee for this year's reunion realized early on that young people need to be a key part of the planning process. They also realized that reunions can be expensive, particularly for families with more than one child.

So far, they are expecting about 25 to 30 children and 75 to 100 participants. The Brown Family negotiated different price points for adults and children, and held fund-raisers--a dinner, raffle and bowling night--over the past year to raise money and to help expenses.

"I think it's important for the simple reason that they are going to be our next generation," says Brown-Williams, the director of a foster care program. "If we continue to leave them out, then how, when they get of age, will they be able to pick up and carry on where we leave off?. They need to come and see what the reunion is all about."

Family reunion planners and specialists also say that children should not be an afterthought. Special events planner Cynthia E. Tucker, owner and president of LadyBug Productions in Los Angeles, says she always begins planning a reunion by answering the question: "Give me reasons why the children should be present?"

The answer is that they are essential members of any family and the future is in their hands. For the reunions to thrive and survive, the entire family needs to be involved and considered.

"When I was younger and my father was planning our reunions, he would always ask me what I wanted to do," says Tucker. "And often, those were some of the activities we ended up doing."

Reunion planners also should consult the convention and visitors bureau in their reunion city. Often, those organizations have information on the attractions that are appropriate for children. Cassandra Taylor, director of convention services for the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the city has a host of museums and entertainment venues that would appeal to children and adults alike, including the Fire Museum of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum and Libertyland Amusement Park.

"That's probably the most important thing," Taylor says of planning activities for young people. "You always have to think about the children."

Other cities also have numerous entertaining and educational attractions. In Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African-American History and the Bronzeville Children's Museum--the first African-American children's museum--are great choices. And in Detroit, there's the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Motown Museum and in Atlanta, check out the King Center, SciTrek, or Zoo Atlanta.

TIPS For Planning A Children-Friendly Family Reunion

1. Get children involved in the planning process. They know what they want to do more than anyone else, and often their suggestions are the most practical.

2. Plan activities that are age-appropriate, says Tucker, owner of the event planning company in Los Angeles. Organize a nursery and story time for the newborns and toddlers. Plan a party with the latest songs for the teenagers.

3. If your budget allows, consider hiring a high school or college student to direct youth activities at the reunion, particularly swimming and other sports.

4. Bring bikes, skates, and scooters as well as board games, craft supplies, video games, CD players, DVDs or videos, children's books, and lots of snacks.

5. Plan activities that children and adults can participate in, such as sack races, water-balloon or egg tossing, three-legged races, relay races or scavenger hunts.

6. Try new forms of old favorites. Turn bingo into a game where your children have to learn about their family members. Who fought in the World War? Who had two sets of twins?

7. You should also consider planning some type of contest--such as video game tournaments, dancing or singing.

8. Don't leave the children to their own devices. Make the reunion as fun for young people as it is for adults.

9. Consider planning your reunion near major attractions, such as an African-American history museum or amusement park. Often, these places offer group rates.

10. Add a historical component by having the children make a family tree or listen to the family's oral history. Plan an oratorical program for older children and award scholarships for the winner.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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