Some ideas for restless student vacationers

Posted Feb. 16, 2011, at 6:35 p.m.

Today students across the state are eagerly awaiting their February school vacation. Not long after school lets out, however, many will start to show their impatience.

“I’m bored,” some will surely say.

“What are we going to do now? Others will certainly ask.

After a few rounds of that, we adults will get frustrated. We’ll get cranky. We’ll start to think that a year-round school schedule (with absolutely no vacation time) sounds like a grand idea.

Unless, that is, we’ve got a plan.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your own impatient vacationers busy over the coming week.

Here are a few options:

  • Hit the slopes — or the trails. Here in Maine we’re lucky to have plenty of skiing options, whether we’re looking for a big mountain experience, a smaller, family-run mountain or some trails to cross-country ski on.

The Ski Maine Association website lists 18 downhill ski areas and 20 organized Nordic trail systems you can check out.

We’ve had plenty of snow. The conditions are fantastic. It’s prime time to return to skiing, to try it for the first time or to introduce a kid to a true life sport.

  • Step back in time. Just a few miles outside of Bangor, visitors can relive a bygone era at the Maine Forest and Logging Museum at Leonard’s Mills.

One perennial hit that the Leonard’s Mills folks offer up: Horse-drawn sled rides.

Visitors can pay $8 (adults) or $4 (children) for an enjoyable ride through the forest, around the lumbering settlement and back to the blacksmith’s shop, where hot chocolate will be served in front of the wood stove.

The rides will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and are fun for the whole family.

  • Go to camp. The Fields Pond Audubon Center is offering vacation camps at its Holden headquarters Tuesday through Friday. Students are invited to come for a day or attend all four sessions.

On Tuesday, attendees will study snow science, taking a trek through the fields and forests, making their own crystals and learning about snow’s insulating properties.

Wednesday’s theme: Migrate, hibernate, activate. Students will find out what various animals do during the winter, study tracks, create a shelter to “hibernate” in and explore the migration practices of favorite critters.

On Thursday, the focus switches to birds as students learn which birds to expect at their winter feeders.

On Friday, a life under the ice program will give kids the chance to ice fish — but not just for fish. A variety of traps will allow them to find out which animals remain active under the ice.

For more information, call 989-2591 or e-mail hwebber@maineaudubon. org

  • Find a derby and go fishing. If you’ve always wanted to introduce your kids to ice fishing, a fishing derby offers an exciting way to do so. This weekend, there are no fewer than 24 ice fishing derbies on tap on waters across the state.

Two you may want to consider:

The MAINEiacs Charities Ice Fishing Derby will take place on five popular Hancock County waters on Saturday. Once one of the largest derbies in the area, it has been brought back and rejuvenated over the past few years.

An overseas deployment by the principal organizers forced the cancellation of last year’s event, but anglers are sure to flock to Beech Hill Pond and Green, Branch, Phillips and Graham lakes for this year’s event.

Anglers can register at Dunn’s Aviation Hangar on Beech Hill Pond’s West Shore Road. Tickets are $5 apiece and can be purchased in advance.

The derby runs from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weigh-in of fish ends at 5 p.m.

More than $4,000 in shore prizes — always a staple of the MAINEiacs derby — will be up for grabs.

If you’re looking for a derby a bit farther north, you’d do well to consider the 49th annual Schoodic Lake ice Fishing Derby.

Fishing will take place on Schoodic, Ebeemee and Seboeis lakes, and the derby will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

Tickets cost $5, which includes entry to the derby and random chances in the shore prize drawings.

Prizes worth $14,000, including $9,300 in shore prizes, will be up for grabs.

Proceeds benefit Milo Fire Department charities and events.

For more information, call 943-2303 or e-mail milofd@onix.net.

If you’re looking to introduce your young anglers to fishing in a kids-only environment, there is a pair of options available this weekend.

The Machias Valley Sportsman’s Club is sponsoring a kids-only derby on Hadley Lake in East Machias on Saturday. The weigh-in will take place at Palmer Landing.

And in Lamoine, a kids-only derby sponsored by the Hooked on Fishing program will be held at Blunts Pond on Saturday. The Lamoine Parks Committee is organizing the event, and the weigh-in will take place at the town’s snowmobile club.

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