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Find creative ways to spend family time

January 2, 2010
By BEN SIMMONS, Staff Writer

Spending quality time with your family can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life. The time spent today with your spouse and children can make some of the fondest memories of tomorrow.

So what can you do to bring the family closer together? The answer is easy - anything that involves everyone interacting together in a positive atmosphere. Several fun opportunities are available, you just have to be creative and willing to spend the time.

Something as simple as having together time can make a family stronger. Many family experts stress the importance of families eating together at the dinner table. At dinner time, families can talk about the day's events, share their successes and talk about their problems. Additionally, children can benefit from having the stability and security.

Another helpful tip is to commit to a "Family Night" each week. During that time, play a board game, pop some popcorn and watch a movie, or do another activity together.

Taking the family to the cinema can be another fun experience. It's important to select a film that is appropriate for the entire family to enjoy. Before going to the theater, it's probably a good idea to choose the movie the family is going to watch and stick with it once you get there. Elkins Cinema 7 shows lots of family friendly films.

"Traditionally, and especially during the holiday season, we see a lot of families who are wanting to spend time with one another, that's why movies like "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Blindside" play so well," owner Nick Kostakos said.

Fact Box

"My whole family takes advantage of the many different activities the YMCA offers. Families can swim together, they can play together on the basketball court, or take part in specialized activities like kindergymnastics and kinderplay."

Dee Oldaker

"Our business is skewed very heavily in favor of families and it doesn't necessarily correspond with the national performance of movies. When I make decisions regarding booking films, I place priority on family films in place of movies that may be tracking higher nationally.

Recently, the Elkins Cinema 7 added a digital 3-D theater. Kostakos said the experience is on par with theme park attractions.

"It's a new thing for us," Kostakos said. "3-D has been a round for a long time, but this presentation is really exceptional. In my opinion it's not really the same thing as previous incarnations of 3D. It's a totally different experience. It adds a lot of depth, it's not just a novelty thing. I think for families locally it would be comparable with major attractions at a theme park. I think for families locally it's kind of a treat, they don't have to go a long way to see something like that."

If your family is more interested in live action, the Randolph County Community Arts Center and the American Mountain Theater host a variety of performance-based activities for audiences of all ages.

"The Randolph County Community Arts Center is a family friendly atmosphere and it's very affordable," said RCCAC Executive Director Beth King. "We have lots of things for families to do. We have a family concert series, we have exhibits and we have lots of art classes to take, all of which are a great way for families to participate together. It's also a good opportunity for families to experience live performances together, which is something that isn't available often in Elkins with that quality of performers."

Getting fit and healthy can bring a family closer together. Several workout facilities including the Elkins/Randolph County Family YMCA and the Belington Clinic Wellness Center offer family packages to involve the entire family in physical exercise.

"The YMCA is a safe place where you pretty much know everybody," Elkins/Randolph County YMCA Administrative Assistant Dee Oldaker said. "It becomes an extension of your family. My whole family takes advantage of the many different activities the YMCA offers. Families can swim together, they can play together on the basketball court, or take part in specialized activities like kindergymnastics and kinderplay. We also have Nautilus equipment and a free weight room."

The old saying, "The family who prays together, stays together," may be good advice for those looking to strengthen their families spirituality. Several area churches are ready to welcome new members to their congregation and share the word of Jesus Christ.

"Families that share a spiritual journey and practice will be a stronger family as a result of it," said Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church Pastor Peter Vial. "Certainly sharing time of prayer, whether around meals or bedtime prayers, devotional time or family bible study time, all of those things could help strengthen the family's spiritual journey. Families can also become stronger by participating in the church's worship services regularly and learning with fellow congregants in an education setting."

Families who are interested in sports may want to visit one of the local college campuses. Alderson Broaddus College, Davis & Elkins College and West Virginia Wesleyan field teams in a variety of sports, so it should be easy to catch a game or two. Area high schools also have sports teams, drama clubs, musical performances and other activities for the entire family to enjoy.

For families on a budget, nearly every town has a park. These places are free to use and offer several recreational opportunities including picnic areas, playground equipment and other fun activities.



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