I received complimentary camp for my boys in exchange for this blog post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Summer is here, so parents all around Tampa are looking for ways to keep their kids busy, engaged, and happy while school is out. I was thrilled when I came across a summer day camp that met all of those requirements! Code Ninjas Carrollwood has an amazing line-up of camps this summer, and my boys had a blast at their week of Game Builders Camp!
What is Coding?
If you don’t know, code is what is written to tell a computer program, software, a robot, a website, etc. what to do. Learning how to think and problem solve is where the real value of Code Ninjas lives. But it's not only about teaching children to be problem solvers. Game Builders Club at Code Ninjas is a great place for kids to learn how to build their very own video games! Every day your kids' skills at game building will progress further, and they will have a blast while they learn how to code. Games are made on MIT's Scratch coding platform.
About the Camp
Upon arrival at Code Ninjas, we checked in and met the staff. The boys loved their name tags and were so excited to find their own laptop station ready for them! My husband and I are former educators, so my hubby had already spent some time showing the boys a couple of coding games, but neither of them have received formal instruction before. They just knew how fun it could be!
The “curriculum” at camp followed a great workbook that provided my boys with the opportunity to complete multiple activities each day. For my sometimes easily-distracted or easily-frustrated son, he was SO PROUD to share what he had created each day. They had a great ratio of “senseis” to students, and the staff were all so supportive and kind.
Do You Have a Roblox Fan?
Code Ninjas also offers a Roblox Create camp! In this camp, kids learn how to build and create in Roblox (a family-friendly, user-generated online gaming platform similar to Minecraft). By learning to use Roblox Studio, your child can create much more than just a game. Every student will design, plan, and build their own 3D world!
Would We Return to Code Ninjas?
We ABSOLUTELY would return to Code Ninjas Summer Camp! Every day, my kids asked if they were going back, and there was no whining or complaining about being away from home. I was a little worried that they would get bored doing the same thing every day, but they were able to create something different every day, and they also took breaks to use some of the other STEM toys and materials in the room.
Camp Details - How to Sign Up
The Roblox Create and Game Builders Club camps at Code Ninjas Carrollwood are offered as both half day (9 am – 12 pm) and full day (9 am – 4 pm) camps for kids ages 7 - 14. They are filling up fast, so reach out today if you’d like to sign up, and tell them Tampa Housewives in the City sent you!
Text/Call: (813) 603-6509
Also – available for our Tampa Housewives’ audience, we have the opportunity to book a free 30-minute intro to coding lesson at the Carrollwood center to learn more about their programs (especially their summer camps)! Visit http://bit.ly/housewivesinthecitycodeninjas to sign up!
We received complimentary tickets in exchange for sharing our thoughts about TreeHoppers.
As always, all opinions are our own.
We are always looking for new ways to spend a quality family day together. TreeHoppers in Dade City was a perfect way for my family to spend a fun day! My husband and I brought our three boys for a 3 hour climbing session, and everyone had a blast. Located just north of the Tampa Bay Area, TreeHoppers is an aerial adventure course with fun (and challenging!) obstacles, along with zip lines through the treetops.
What to Expect on Your Visit
At first glance, I assumed the courses would only be fun for my oldest son who is 9, but TreeHoppers made sure to design courses and elements that were suitable for the younger crowd as well. They have a total of nine different courses, and each course has a rating to designate how challenging it is. They have an amazing staff on hand to answer all of your questions! They told me that one of the things people do not realize about TreeHoppers is that it really is an obstacle course in the air. Many of their guests arrive thinking it is solely a zip line course, which is not the case. Definitely come ready to flex your muscles and have fun trying out your skills!
Upon our arrival, we checked in at the welcome counter because we had already completed our waivers online (I highly suggest doing this if possible!!). The amazing staff fitted us all with our harnesses and took us through a detailed safety orientation. I loved that they also had a small practice course for us to try out the process of using the safety clips. It was not difficult, but having the time to practice definitely helped us all feel ready for our time in the trees.
After completing our practice, we were able to proceed to the starting platform to begin the courses. All courses start in the same place, and the staff directs you to the correct level based on age. The three hour time frame allows you to complete multiple courses, but can vary based on how busy the park is and your skill level. We all had so much fun on the courses!!
Little Lemur's Course
The course I appreciated the most was the Little Lemur's Course that is for children ages 1 - 6. I am not exaggerating when I say that my 2 (almost 3) year old was able to entertain himself in this area for nearly the entire three hours of our time there! The area is roped off and conveniently located next to the base starting point for the other courses. I was able to stay with my little guy to supervise him, but also look up and watch my other two boys with my husband on the courses above us. I also traded places with my husband so I could do a course and he took a turn watching our littlest. It was perfect!
If you're looking for a family-friendly activity in the Tampa Bay Area, make sure to put TreeHoppers on your list! Our family had a great day, and we definitely plan to return. For more details, including hours and pricing, please be sure to visit their website and social media pages.
Address: 27839 Saint Joe Road, Dade City, FL 33525
Phone: (813) 381-5400
Summer is right around the corner, and our kids need enriching experiences to make this the best summer yet! Check out these camps in the area!
For ages 6-18, Camp Weed Summer Camp helps campers experience God and experience nature through our core values of love, enthusiasm, open-mindedness, creativity, and faith.
Barrett School of Music
Join us for our second annual Music Summer Camp in Brandon!
Students will try out a variety of instruments including the piano, percussion and their singing voice in several different settings such as drum circles, garage band, songwriting and choir. Join us at the end of the day on Thursday for our talent show and Friday for our final group performance.
In addition to a our amazing lineup of music activities, students will alos get to spend plenty of one-on-one time with our awesome teachers and professional musicians. They'll make new friends with fellow campers, and everyone will enjoy age appropriate crafts to develop into well-rounded musicians.
Group rates, one day drop in rate, sibling discounts and bring-a-friend specials are available upon request.
Camp Dovewood is a non-profit dynamic Interdenominational Christian camp for girls 7-17 in North Florida. This year will be our 41st! We offer one of the most fun-filled and best all- round equestrian programs in the Southeast featuring: Western pleasure, Rodeo, English Equitation, Dressage, Trail rides, horse shows, vet care, grooming and stable management. We also have 22 other great activities for the girls: archery, tennis, ballet, cheerleading, gymnastics, art, drama, swimming, water ballet, music, photography, river rafting, volleyball, softball, baton, cooking, basketball, leadership and great books . Dovewood is accredited with the American Camping Association ,Certified Horsemanship Association and Christian Camp and Conference Association.
Directors: Jim and Roberta Richmond
Phone 386-935-0863 or 386-209-1908
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
For more than 25 years, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has provided children with inspiring and educational experiences with some of the best Tampa summer camp options found anywhere! Busch Gardens offers two exciting options for campers: Day Camp or Resident Camp. Home to more than 12,000 animals and world class coasters, Busch Gardens has camps for both animal lovers and thrill seekers alike.
What a crazy 10 days Hurricane Irma put us through. Floridians know that hurricanes are an unfortunate way of life for us in exchange for the amazing months of weather we have from November to May. But as this Washington Post article pointed out in July, the Tampa area has been largely spared from major damage from a hurricane for quite a long time. Perhaps for that reason, many people feared that this was going to be the big one.
Was your experience like mine?
Labor Day Weekend There is a hurricane they're talking about out in the Atlantic. They're saying it's big and strong. Eh, I'll worry about it later. Time to relax and party with friends. I will look more closely after the weekend is over.
Tuesday morning after Labor Day After a Disney trip and a morning at the Florida Aquarium over the weekend, I need gas so I head to Costco. I also plan to pick up a few random grocery items like Cheerios. I arrive to the lot to see that there are no grocery carts, and the gas line is backed up into the parking lot. Apparently people are concerned about this storm and need to buy all. the. things.
Tuesday afternoon Okay, maybe I should go ahead and grab some non-perishables. If we don't need them for this storm, my family will use them soon. I shop for crackers, bread, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and pasta. Water is already hard to come by so I plan to grab some as soon as I see it. Obviously they will restock.
Wednesday Irma is all over the news. I discover Denis Phillips and Mike the Weather Guy and start watching their coverage because national news makes it look like Florida is a lost cause and we're all done for. My friends who are not from Florida start to look pretty concerned, but I tell them that we can prepare, but it's still early. There is talk of plywood and generators. My dad, who lives on the Gulf in Palm Harbor, doesn't seem concerned yet, so I don't need to worry since we're not even in a flood zone.
Thursday School has been cancelled. We still have not found bottled water and I am starting to formulate a plan that includes a "safe room." I'm glued to the spaghetti models and concerned about my friends on the west coast of Florida. I hate that I know what a "cone of uncertainty" is. I-75 is a parking lot and gas is hard to find. I've never evacuated for a hurricane, and my new mantra is, "Run from water, hide from wind."
Friday morning We never found bottled water so we pulled items such as milk containers from our recycling bin, cleaned them, and decided to fill them with water for cooking if needed. My mother-in-law called me to ask what our plan was. "Still staying put, and we have an emergency plan. All is well. Don't worry about us! The news is making it look worse than it is! We live in a block house!" She's not impressed and I'm confident she questioned my sanity. ;)
Friday afternoon Panic has begun to set in with this Florida native. I watch every update from Denis Phillips, Paul Dellegatto, and Mike the Weather Guy. Then comes the 5 pm update. Irma's projected track puts her at a Cat 4 and aimed directly at Tampa. As in, the eye coming THROUGH Tampa Bay. She's not messing around, and now decisions must be made. My husband comes home from bowling with my two oldest boys, and we labor over the decision. We finally decide that we should pack up the boys, drive overnight, and take advantage of the situation to visit our family in Rochester, NY. We wanted to visit them this fall anyway, so we may as well get out of Irma's path.
Friday night The trip itself was fine - not too much traffic; we didn't have any gas trouble. But the emotional toll was great. I cried for our community, our friends, our family. We were leaving with no idea what we would come home to. We saw full rest stops of families who were leaving Florida, and it was just surreal.
Saturday and Sunday passed in a blur. We were weary travelers, safely away from the storm, but I felt like I left my heart behind with our city. I was grateful to know everyone back home had a plan, including my dad, who in fact did leave his home before the storm. I feel like I am in a unique position where in the past year, I have met so many Tampa business owners, mothers, professionals, citizens, and we were all connected in the uncertainty of this storm. Every shift of the track was felt by us all, and we hoped for a miracle.
Monday morning The Tampa Bay area was the grateful recipient of that miracle. After all of our worrying, many people's prayers, our preparations, everything we did in the week before the storm, we were spared from the wrath of a Category 4 storm.
There exists some guilt after this storm as well. As we watch our neighbors in our own state repair and deal with power outages, devastating flooding, downed trees, and more, we are still relieved that it wasn't worse. We see images of areas that were hit harder and imagine what could have been, what almost was, and we know that Irma spared us.
None of the images featured on this post are my own. Sources unknown.
This week's Fashion Friday features the St. Pete-based online swimsuit shop, First & Oxford. With our tropical climate in the Tampa area, I am excited to showcase the amazing swimsuits available in this shop. I feel it is always a struggle to find quality, well-priced suits, and it is so helpful to have options with our proximity to the beach and year-round sunny weather.
I had the opportunity to speak with the owner, Samantha, and her passion for her shop shines through! She assisted me with choosing a suit of my own, and I can really speak to its quality. The material feels different that the store-brands I am used to, and the cut and print are so unique! Samantha shared some background about herself and the boutique that I know will have you excited to check out her amazing selection of swimwear!
Meet Samantha and First & Oxford
I was born in Michigan, but grew up here in sunny Florida. (I guess you can call me a Floridian!) Like many that live out here, cold weather and I do not get along. I enjoy sunny winters and watching the beautiful Florida sunsets. My background is in marketing and ecommerce, and I have worked with several businesses to help create and expand their online exposure.
First & Oxford was born from the passions of two globetrotters who appreciate and love good quality products and the finer things in life (at an affordable cost, of course). After researching and taking into account what several women look for in a swimsuit, we have found the perfect balance in the products we offer here at First & Oxford. We encourage all women to browse our store and take a dive into tranquility. They won't regret it!
Why Did You Launch First & Oxford?
First & Oxford was launched through passion and with the help of some poorly made swimsuits. In the past, I have personally had issues with swimsuits being too expensive, uncomfortable, and simply not lasting. We knew that I wasn't the only female out there going through these issues, so we've decided to take matters into our own hands and come up with a solution!
What Sets You Apart From Other Boutiques?
Our swimsuits are made with high quality fabrics and materials such as Lycra and OEKO TEX certified fabric. This makes our swimsuits both durable and helps you move more freely. As a bonus, our swimsuits also provide UV protection and SPF 50+. In addition, most of our swimsuits are sourced from exotic places, such as Bali and Brazil - places that are naturally surrounded by beautiful beaches and experience a lot of sun. In terms of pricing, we strive to offer great quality swimwear that is affordable - truly the best of both worlds, right?
Where Do You Look for Inspiration?
We found a lot of inspiration through traveling to exotic places around the world with friends. We've come across lots of different textile patterns and styles, so when stocking products for the shop, I look for their uniqueness. On a more local level, I think of the women here in Florida and what they would look for in a swimsuit. Taking these factors into account, we stock a mix of minimal coverage to fuller coverage products. We truly pride ourselves on quality swimwear made from the world's most exotic places.
How to Find First & Oxford
While all thoughts are my own, this post was done as part of a partnership with First & Oxford.
Looking for a great resort to spend time with your family? We had the immense pleasure of spending a weekend at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra, and we all had an amazing time! The resort is located in Ponte Vedra Beach, between St. Augustine and Jacksonville, Florida. Its location off of A1A made it convenient to the beach, local shopping (Publix is just off the property), and of course the famous TPC Sawgrass Golf Course.
This Marriott has recently undergone renovations, and the rooms were fresh, bright, and new! There are not only standard hotel rooms, but the villas on the property provide more space and even kitchenettes. If you are staying for a longer amount of time or want to splurge, the villas are a great option. Traveling as a family of 5, we loved the ability to add an adjoining room. My husband and I shared a king-sized bed, we had a comfortable living area with a couch and chairs, and our boys were able to have their own beds (and bathroom!) in the adjoining room.
My favorite area of the entire villa was our balcony! We had a view of the main hotel and could even see the TPC Sawgrass course!
Fun for the Kids
My initial thought was that my three boys, ages 6, 4, and 10 months, wouldn’t have much to do at a golf and spa resort. I was so wrong! It only took about 3 hours into our stay for our 6 year old to proclaim that he “loves this place!” He and his brothers enjoyed the restaurants, pools, cornhole game, ping pong, putt-putt golf, Surfstream (more on that later!), and the beach. The Marriott even provided a pack n play for our baby to sleep in, complete with fresh sheets.
Marriott has really thought of everything for the children of guests here. They recently added the Mighty Oaks play area where parents can accompany their children for some quiet play time with a great selection of toys and even foosball! There was never a dull moment during our stay!
Sawgrass Marriott has an amazing selection of restaurants with a variety of fare for every desire. We were lucky to sample delicious food ranging from beach casual, brunch buffet, Mediterranean themed dinner, and the fine dining selection at Vernon’s. I loved that our kids felt welcome and had great choices at each of the restaurants, and my husband and I were able to enjoy delicious food as well! Just a few of our favorites include: the swordfish and desserts at Vernon’s, the burrata at 619 Oceanside, the crabcakes at the Sea Porch Bar & Grill, and the chili glazed gator nugget tacos at the American Gator Club!
We all can use some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The Sawgrass Marriott has a secluded, quiet location that provided comfort and beautiful views! If that’s not enough, you can enjoy time at their spa for a variety of services including facials, massages and body treatments for men, women and couples, and manicures/pedicures.
If you prefer to relax by exercising, the workout studio has a great selection of cardio and strength-training equipment.
Fun in the Sun
I am a beach girl at heart. I hadn’t visited the Atlantic Ocean in about three years, so it was a delightful treat that the resort offered a free shuttle to their Cabana Beach Club for our enjoyment! Our kids played in the sand, enjoyed the surf, and then transitioned right over to the pool at the beach club. The resort had toys on hand, towels by the pool, and clean bathrooms. The Sea Porch Bar & Grill and 619 Oceanside Restaurant are both located at the beach, so you can spend the day here without any problem at all!
The first Surfstream American Wave Machine in the continental US just opened at Sawgrass Marriott, and it was the highlight of my trip! The instructors gave us the safety equipment and training we needed, and were so supportive while we tried out this fun activity! My husband, my 6 year old (height requirement of 42 inches), and I had a blast taking turns riding the waves right at the resort! They had boogie boards and surf boards available so everyone was able to ride a wave without trouble. I was a nervous wreck, but it was such an amazing experience!
You can’t stay near TPC Sawgrass without feeling the influence of the game of golf. Adjacent to Alice and Pete’s Pub is a floating hole challenge. For a small fee, guests can try their luck at hitting a golf ball into the “floating” hole 65 yards away.
A Wonderful Family Getaway
The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa was a perfect destination for our family. We were able to sample delicious food, have fun, and relax on the property and at the beach club. The Marriott staff all went above and beyond to make our weekend memorable, and we would gladly return! You can find many more details and book accommodations on their website.
We were invited for a media weekend as a guest of Sawgrass Marriott.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!
All photos are my own unless otherwise noted.
Looking for something to do this summer? Check out Summer Movie Express at Citrus Park!
Admission to the Summer Movie Express is only $1, and movies begin at 10 am. I suggest arriving early because you have to purchase at the box office. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute.
Check out the schedule below! Each week, both movies play on both days.
USF Pre-College Camps
Do you have a high school student who wants to experience college life? With USF’s Pre-College summer programs, they can!
Teens can now spend their summer break pursuing academic interests, discovering career opportunities and exploring the independence of university life. All of our programs are enriched with experiential learning, select field trips and guest speakers – all of which put theory into practice. Some programs even offer the opportunity to earn college credit.
To learn more about the USF summer camps, visit http://hubs.ly/H071Fgp0
Tampa Music School
Tampa Music School will be rockin' out this summer to 80's themed summer music camps. Learn the piano, guitar, drums, rock band and steel pans to age appropriate 80's themed music for ages 7-13. With three professional musicians on staff, and a cap of 12 students, your musician will enjoy 20 hours of music camp, select weeks June - August 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
Visit http://www.tampamusicschool.com/ for more information.
Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps
Wilson Collegiate Tennis Camps are the premier camps for young players who strive to learn the game, improve their skills and/or participate in middle school, high school, USTA team tennis or tournaments. Both commuter day camp and overnight camp options are available! They break the campers into small instructional groups of similar age and ability so each child is working in a group that is commensurate with their experience level. They tailor each program to the level of the players.
Barrett School of Music
Come join us for our first ever Brandon Music Summer Camp! Classes will run from 11am - 3pm, Monday through Friday, the week of June 12. Students will choose between a variety of musical ensembles and activities such as drum circles, pop band, choir, guitar ensemble, and songwriting. We will have a talent show on Thursday and group performance on Friday for friends and family. Register here.
Hi! I'm Diana. I love the beach, my family, chocolate, coffee, and meeting new people. I host monthly events in the Tampa area and cannot wait to meet all of you!