Kid Spoken Here: Family-friendly accommodations at AMC

This is my second post about AMC’s “Kid Spoken Here,” a program launched earlier this month to make AMC’s huts and lodges more accessible to children and families. In my first post, I described new family-friendly activities at the Highland Center at Crawford Notch, expanded offerings in the center’s gear room, and new kids’ menus at mealtimes.

The “Kid Spoken Here” program also tries to address the cost of AMC accommodations for families. This is a matter of some personal concern for me. Like many other families in recent years, we’ve struggled to match our falling income to our rising costs. We’ve appreciated our time together outdoors, in part because being outside often costs us very little, and the rewards are priceless.

And we’ve taken a hard look at our costs, even for longtime and cherished outdoor activities. We’ve been priced out of downhill skiing as a family, so Jim and I have stopped buying lift tickets for ourselves. Instead, we put our money toward the kids' cheaper lift tickets, who get plenty of invitations to go skiing or boarding from friends and their families.

We haven’t spent much time in AMC’s huts or lodges, either, for the same family budget reasons. Instead, we take family backpacking trips, where we can pay as little as $20 for five days of backcountry camping.

So I was pleased to see that the “Kid Spoken Here” program reduces overnight lodging costs for AMC member children. It does so in two ways, first by cutting the cost for member children between the ages of 3 and 12, and then by creating a new lower “youth” rate for teens (ages 13-17).

Children’s rates have been reduced the most at Cardigan Lodge and Joe Dodge Lodge, from $40 to $29 per night, or more than 25 percent. Prices for the Highland Center and the Maine Wilderness Lodges have been reduced $8 for each member child, to $34 a night. The cost of staying in a hut for a member child has dropped less — $3, to $49 a night.

AMC has also introduced a new member teen rate, for ages 13-17: $57 a night at Cardigan and Joe Dodge Lodge, $83 a night for the huts, and $105 a night for AMC’s Maine lodges.

These changes are clearly a move in the right direction. The reduction in the child rate for Cardigan and Joe Dodge, especially, strikes me as significant.

The “Kid Spoken Here” program lives in nitty-gritty details: what kids eat for dinner, what they do if it rains, whether a pack or shoes fit, how much it costs to spend the night in a hut. This strikes me as appropriate and necessary. Family life is largely about such nitty-gritty details. Getting those details right is one way — one very important way — to live our family values.

By addressing the needs of families with children, and by acknowledging issues of cost and access, AMC has taken several very important steps. I hope that they are first steps, and that more follow.

Photos: Outside and inside Cardigan Lodge. Jerry & Marcy Monkman, Courtesy of AMC

Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.

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