Whether it’s a long weekend or a full-scale vacation, the age-old question, “What can we find for the kids to do?” no longer need plague concerned parents. It’s never been easier, particularly with the Virginia Kids Trail.
We asked Nancy Craun, founder of Go Blue Ridge Travel and the Virginia Kid’s Trail,
to tell us more.
Shenandoah Valley Travel Assoc. (SVTA): What exactly is the Virginia Kid’s Trail?
Craun: The Kids Trail features family activities, events, and businesses in the Blue Ridge – Shenandoah Valley. There are activities that can be done in a couple hours, a great 48-hour weekend outing or a week-long vacation:
● Activities such as river rafting, zip lining, children’s museums, hiking, historical tours, theater, and more
● Events, festivals, concerts, camps, and more.
● Businesses, family-friendly hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.
SVTA: How did the idea for the trail come about? When did it launch?
Craun: I was attending a Virginia Tourism summit in 2015 and learned that one of the criticisms Virginia was receiving from visitors was the lack of easy identification of family- friendly activities. I pulled together a focus group of family friendly Go Blue Ridge Travel businesses and within six months a grant was written to begin the Kids Trail.
SVTA: What is the value of the trail? How does it help people?
Craun: The mission of the Kids Trail is to get kids off the couch and away from digital devices. Our goal is to have parents enjoy playing with their kids.
SVTA: How many attractions are on it?
Craun: The Kids Trail has 70 different types of activities that vary seasonally. We promote both paid admission businesses as well as simple fun activities like skimming a rock across the Potomac River as you hike the C&O Canal. Parents want ideas on what to do with their kids.
SVTA: What is the geographical spread of the trail?
Craun: The Kids Trail concentrates on the Blue Ridge – Shenandoah Valley region, which is both Virginia and West Virginia–from Shepherdstown to Harpers Ferry, from Ashburn to Bluemont and from Winchester to Natural Bridge. We are also expanding to Charlottesville and Lynchburg.
SVTA: What are some of the features of the trail?
Craun: As the founder of the Kids Trail, as well as a mother and grandmother, I am well aware not all kids have the same interests. For that reason, our mascots represent different lifestyle passions kids may want to pursue. However, the bottom line is that they can be different and still be friends. The mascots are:
Bucket – has a “Nancy Drew” personality. Inquisitive, not scared of much, and very adventurous. Bucket’s passion is fitness!
Shenny – a girl loving all things beautiful, and like Bucket is a decade in age. Shenny’s passion is creativity!
Ridge – is an eight-year-old guy who is all about the digital world. Very much a nerd, Bucket does an incredible job of “getting him out of his shell.” Ridge’s passion is history.
Fungi – is all about “wellness.” As a mushroom, Fungi is drawn to the farms and the food’s cycle to the plate.
The most popular feature we offer is our Kids Trail Pocket Map. We also publish blogs as well as a “Kids Trail Going Out Guide” e-newsletter each week from June to August and then monthly.
SVTA: What kind of reaction have you gotten from families who ventured on the Kids Trail?Craun: Here’s one sample–
I wish I had recorded reaction of my children when I told them what we won. They were so unbelievably excited. Thank you for putting all of this together. We had so much fun going on all of our summer adventures. It made going back to work extra hard! —- New Mom in the Valley
SVTA: What sort of reaction do you get from members of the trail?
Craun: Mary Braun, Director of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, told us, “The Kids Trail, an arm of GoBRT is both inventive and resourceful in marketing pursuits. They work tirelessly on behalf of the Kids Trail partners. With financial support from Virginia Tourism Corporation, GoBRT has cultivated a savvy understanding of marketing opportunities. Their energy and fresh ideas have translated into successful experience for travel destinations and tourists alike.”
SVTA: We saw something about “Youth of the Blue Ridge” on the website. What is that?
Craun: The Youth of the Blue Ridge Contest is for 12 – 18 year olds to share how they are giving back to their ommunity. The contest is part of the American Evolution’s 2019 Commemoration Schools program celebrating history in the school and classroom environment.
Our founding state of Virginia has seen great accomplishments throughout history, but the best part about it is that history is still being made today! Our youth represent our state, so it’s great to see them putting amazing effort into making their communities a better place! Youth of the Blue Ridge is a voice for young people giving back to their community who want to share their story.
SVTA: To wrap up, what can you tell us about activities coming up this month?
Craun: October is a great month for family fun. The hot temperatures of Summer are gone and Fall color is starting to appear. Here in Virginia, there is apple picking, corn mazes, and pumpkin carvings leading up to Halloween. Lots of festivals with activities for all groups. Check out this blog for more.