Monday, February 21, 2011

Memberships: A Good Investment

May I introduce the Great Lakes Science Center's newest members...

We are!

Our family was gifted some cash this past Christmas and we have been holding on to it for the perfect opportunity. I didn't want this money to be mindlessly spent on dining out and DVD's, which is incredibly easy to do. The idea of gifting experiences like concerts, park visits or mini-vacations, has been on my mind for years and I try to give stuff with lasting meaning. It has taken a while, but I'm finally realizing when you invest a little more up front, it is worth it.

The entire experience was awesome! Each child was engaged during the visit. We split up for a bit while the little girls played in the polymer playroom (picture a spacious room full of all things plastic: slides, pulleys, cannons and thousands of balls). The boys were able to test the speed of their pitches and defy gravity with mirrors. A bunch of our time was spent in a darkened corner watching our shadows get caught on a special photosensitive wall. A packed lunch saved us a ton of money, too. We ran around like crazies, but happy ones. After a short stop at the always overpriced gift shop and a visit to Mars, we departed at closing. I'm pretty sure three of the kids were snoozing before we even left the parking garage. As we pulled into our driveway, Eden woke up yawning and said, "I had fun." Sigh. That is all I could have ever hoped at the end of the day: that she had fun and that she (and her siblings) feel loved.

After the initial investment ($85 for a basic family membership), we have a year of unlimited visits. Not just to this science center but to over 200 centers and museums across the nation. There are already plans in the making for a visit to the Carnegie Science Museum in Pittsburgh. Even select children's museums are included. Now I've got a nice list of possible experiences to whisk my kids away for the day - prepaid! For six bucks (parking) we can head out to the city and have a blast at the drop of a hat.

This is an investment in our family. It is something we would not normally be able to afford on a visit by visit basis, but when purchased as a membership it is sure to be a major form of our entertainment. We even asked for a zoo membership as a Christmas gift. With these two purchases there will be plenty to do this summer that doesn't necessarily involve weeding the garden or other super fun farm chores. How about a free trip to the zoo of your own? Did you know there are days when zoos and museums give free admission to people who live in the same county. Do a little research and see what you can come up with. People who live in the city have such great opportunity for culture, with museums, parks and zoos right around the corner. Country people have culture too, just a whole different kind of culture.

What other places are you members?

** The money for the membership was gifted to the parents, not the children.

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