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Hopkinton camp holds first Family Snow Bowl


HOPKINTON — Frigid temperatures didn’t stop families from enjoying winter activities over the weekend.

Snow tubing, sledding, cross-country skiing and pick-up ice hockey were just some of the activities at Mandaville Camp and Retreat, 165 Sheldon Road, offered from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday during the camp’s first ever Family Snow Bowl.

The event, which was free for children and $10 for adults, also included indoor crafts, hot chocolate and snacks inside the camp’s Hemlock Lodge.

Jim N. Meola, Richville, who was steadying sleds at the top of a hill, brought his four children out to enjoy a day of sledding.

“We like to do a lot of outdoor activities,” he said.

Mr. Meola said he’s good friends with Bob B. Emmett, director of Mandaville Camp and Retreat.

Mr. Emmett and his wife, Sharon L., Hopkinton, organized the “family fun day,” and said they planned it for the end of the children’s school vacation.

“It’s right before school gets going and they’re either bored or they’ve been cooped up,” Mrs. Emmett said.

Mr. Emmett said he was glad the thermometer rose somewhat for their afternoon outside.

“We were hoping to not have a deep freeze day like yesterday,” he said. “I mean, it’s still cold, but it’s warmed up a bit.”

He said the weather left them with the best tubing hill conditions they’ve ever had, because of the layer of ice.

Mr. Emmett said the weather also helped them out with an ice rink this year. Usually, they build one, using boards and plastic.

“But that’s a lot of work and if the weather’s not right, it’s a wasted effort,” he said. “God gave us an ice storm and set down three layers of ice, so I just capitalized on it.”

The weather didn’t cooperate for all Saturday’s planned activities, however.

“We didn’t really have packable snow to do snow sculptures or igloo making like we wanted to,” Mrs. Emmett said.

Mr. Emmett said that even without good packing snow, they had other ways of making snow art.

“We’re going to get water bottles with colored water in them and squirt it into the snow to make designs,” he said.

Mandaville Camp and Retreat is one of the only Christian camps in the area, according to Mr. Emmett, and is funded by Bible Centered Ministries International, a Christian ministry based out of Lancaster, Pa.

Mr. Emmett said the year-round camp has several winter overnight retreats, or snow bowls, for children of all ages, including one for grades 4 through 7 from Jan. 17 to 18, one for grades 4 through 7 Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, and one for teenagers Presidents Day weekend.

Mrs. Emmett said they wanted to have a one-day Family Snow Bowl to introduce more people to the camp.

“It’s a way for them to introduce their kids to camp and have some fun with the family,” she said.

Mr. Emmett said the camp tries to reach out to children and families within a 40-mile radius and partners with local churches for retreats and youth group camps.

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