Hot fun in the summertime |

Hot fun in the summertime

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Finding summer day care just got a little less challenging.

Charles Merritt and Craig Root, who have operated Kinderhut Children’s Center ski program in Beaver Run for the past 12winters, are expanding their services to include summer activities for children in Summit and Park counties.

“We’ve had a lot of requests to do this in the past, but we’ve steered away from it,” Merritt said. “Our focus has always been a day care, but we decided this year to make it a fun drop-in or weekly care.”

Kinderhut is arguably best known for its winter ski programs. But it has remained open in the summer to provide drop-in day care needs for conventioneers.

The center still will feature its full- and half-day infant (six weeks to one year) and toddler 1- to 3- year-olds) programs but will now include an Adventure Camp for 3- to 6-year-olds.

Activities will include arts and crafts, puppet shows, hiking, movies and outings to Carter Park, the library, fire station, the Riverwalk, alpine slide, the human maze on Peak 8 and the recreation center.

“There are a lot of local kids out there who don’t have anything going on,” Merritt said. “If we can make it fun, we can provide a service to the community, offer a quality program and make a little money.”

Merritt, father of a 4-year-old girl, said he looks forward to being able to provide the service, particularly since he knows how difficult it can be to find day care.

“I’ve been through day care hell,” he said, recalling the six-month wait to get his daughter into Carriage House. “I know what’s not there.”

Although Merritt’s wife, Cindy, has been a stay-at-home mom for much of the past four years, she and Merritt want their daughter to socialize with other children and get an introduction to formal schooling as is done at Little Red Schoolhouse and Carriage House in Breckenridge and Summit County Preschool in Frisco. Merritt wants Kinderhut’s summer program to emulate that, as well.

“When we needed something, we had Kinderhut in the winter, but we wanted something more like preschool,” he said. “And this is not just babysitting. We want to do something more than go to the park and play.”

He remembers the repercussions of the Peak 8 nursery closing a few years ago, when local parents were given a deadline to find alternate day care because the ski resort needed the space for its customers’ children.

“That left a hole in the community,” Merritt said. “We’re trying to fill that void.”

Finding day care isn’t the nightmare it used to be in the early 1990s, Merritt believes.

“A lot of people out there are in the situation I’m in,” he said. “They don’t absolutely have to have day care, but they’d like something fun for their kids to participate in. There are classes out there, but nothing that’s a half- or full-day program.”

The terrorist events of Sept. 11 also have affected day care, Merritt said.

“People have become more family oriented, less day-care oriented,” he said. “I think that will be short-term. People will slowly drift back in to the, “Gosh, it sure would be nice to have two paychecks again.'”

Kinderhut will have three or four spots available for infants, 10 for toddlers and up to 50 for the older set. Until the ski area closes for the season, Merritt is offering locals one free day in the ski program to introduce children to the center.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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