From Stables to Strawberries

November 3, 2011

A Spectacular Stable Tour

Just after midnight on March 30, 1970, a large chestnut colt was foaled on a horse farm in Caroline County, VA. Three years later, this colt would become nothing short of a celebrity, electrifying the horse racing world and becoming the ninth horse to win the coveted Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing. His name was, of course, the legendary Secretariat. While many often think of Kentucky as the epicenter of thoroughbred racing, it’s important to remember that many racing champions began their careers and were trained right here in the Commonwealth. There’s no doubt that future champions will also trace their beginnings back to some of Virginia’s most impressive farms and training facilities.

On the weekend of May 29, a handful of Virginia’s top farm owners invite you down their cozy drives and into their stables and training facilities as the Hunt Country Stable Tour celebrates its 51st year. Presented by the Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, this self-guided tour is a once-a-year opportunity to visit some of the most remarkable hunter and show jumper barns, breeding farms and polo facilities.

Tickets may be purchased at any of the venues, with the exception of the Stone Bridge over Goose Creek. Be sure to visit the Trinity Episcopal Church and browse the wares of the many vendors at the country fair on the church lawn. Next, follow the map provided with your ticket and make your way through the Middleburg and Upperville area to the various venues on the tour.

One stop on the tour you won’t want to miss is the Middleburg training track, but you’ll have to get there early on Saturday to catch all the action. Bring your camera and grab a rail-side spot as you watch young thoroughbreds rounding the 7/8-mile track during their training sessions. Several champions, including Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Spectacular Bid, began their training here. Come early, as the horses run before 9 a.m. — and only on Saturday.

Not far from the training track is the Northern Virginia Animal Swim Center and Stables. We all know how beneficial water and swim therapy can be when recovering from surgery or an injury. The same holds true for our equine and canine friends, and what a unique facility they have for just that purpose. The swim center will be open Saturday only, with equine demonstrations throughout the day.

In addition to these training facilities, be sure to make your way to the many beautiful private stables on the tour, including Willow Bend Farm, Windsor Farm, Rock Hill Farm, and Rokeby, just to name a few.

For more information and a complete listing of all venues on the tour, check out www.huntcountrystabletour.org.

A Delicious Festival

Strawberries: sweet and delicious, they’re one of the first treats of summer and a definite reason for celebration. This delectable snack derived its name from the berries that are “strewn” about on the foliage of the plants. “Strewn berry” eventually became “strawberry,” and the rest is history. In fact, strawberries actually date to medieval times where they symbolized prosperity, peace, and perfection. Today, it’s tradition for spectators to enjoy strawberries and cream between tennis matches at Wimbledon.

This year, beautiful Sky Meadow State Park is once again host to the Delaplane Strawberry Festival on May 29 and 30. Celebrating its 17th year and presented by the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane, this festival has something fun for everyone. Catch a hayride through the park, then grab a bite to eat from one of the many food vendors and have a seat on a hay bale as you enjoy some great musical entertainment. Car enthusiasts will enjoy looking at the beautifully presented antique cars from the Bull Run Antique Car Club of America. And of course, there will be strawberries. Buy some to enjoy at the festival, and be sure to pick up some extra to take home. There’s no shortage of fun for the young ones either. Pony rides, a 4-H petting zoo, puppet shows, jugglers, clowns and children’s games are just some of the activities on tap to make this a special day for the kids.

For additional information about the festival, visit www.delaplanestrawberryfestival.com.

In Good Company


When we were little, our friends and social network influenced our choices, thoughts and behaviors. If Dave played basketball then so did Colin. If Marie wore her hair in pigtails, Andrea thought it was cool. When we grow up, we look at our friends and those who construct our social network much differently. We are led to believe who you know can lead you to opportunity and success. The number of names and phone numbers in our Blackberries are supposed to grow, especially in our nation’s capital, where building one’s social network is not only an event, pastime or lecture topic, but a way of life. We’ve all been told that “who you know” can get you in the door to a job, inside information or get you into a sold-out event. But studies say who you know and how well you know them can make a much more remarkable impact on one’s life than having an “in” with backstage security.

In recent years, sociologists, psychologists, scientists and physicians alike have shifted their attention and broadened their focus of study subjects by examining the relationships and characteristics of those closely connected to them. While an individual’s social networks have not unveiled connections resulting in lucrative jobs or insider information, they have instead revealed a profound influence and vital effect over many facets of one’s health and wellness. The characteristics of those who run in a person’s social circle and how closely connected they are to that person have proven to play a factoring role in matters diverse as belt size to coping ability.

So just how much are we influenced by our relationships? Let’s start with behaviors. It may sound rudimentary to assume that if the people you associate with are drinkers, you’ll likely follow suit. After assessing the social networks of 12,000 people from 1971 to 2003 — the subjects of the famous Framingham Heart Study — researchers from Harvard and the University of California, San Diego concluded in the Annals of Internal Medicine last month that not only do those in your social network affect your alcohol consumption, so do those in your social network’s network — this relationship held through three degrees of separation. If the people you surround yourself are heavy drinkers, it is 50 percent more likely that you will also drink heavily. If a friend of a friend is a heavy drinker, you would be 36 percent as likely to be one as well. And if that friend’s friend — the third degree of separation — is a heavy drinker, your chances of drinking heavily increases 15 percent.

It may be easy to enjoy another cocktail among your friends or share ideas of social acceptance when it comes to alcohol consumption, but what about body size? Could obesity spread from one to another just like the tendency to drink within a social circle? Take the people in your life, your friends, significant other, colleagues and family. Look at your body size in comparison to theirs, taking extra note of your closest friends. Do you find any parallels? Researchers from the Harvard/UCSD study found that it may not just be about diet and exercise, but that obesity is spread through relationships. The most statistically significant (and shocking) relationship influences were with close friendships of the same sex. A person’s chances of becoming obese increased by 57 percent if he or she had a close friend who became obese throughout the study. In pairs of people who each named one another as a close friend, the likeliness that both would gain weight if one became obese jumped to 171 percent. It didn’t matter how near or far the friends were from one another geographically, as long as the person being named was a close friend. This correlation has proved to be stronger than genetics and marriage. Between adult siblings, the likeliness that one would become obese after their brother or sister had increased by 40 percent; for spouses they found a 37 percent increased risk.

Don’t get upset just yet, not all relationships increase negative outcome. But if you are unhappy, perhaps you should find a new group of happy friends, hopefully ones with their own happy friends. Analyzing over 50,000 social ties of nearly 5,000 Framingham participants from 1983-2003, researchers concluded a key determinant of a person’s happiness lies in the happiness with whom they are connected. The degree of closeness to one’s friends and family also ascertained the likeliness of happiness in the future. In the study, happiness was found to be dependent on a person’s social connections extending (again) to three degrees of separation. What this means is that your close friends, siblings, spouse and neighbors all can impact your happiness, and if they are happy (and their friends, and their friends’ friends), there is a greater probability that you will also be happy. Luckily, happiness seems to spread much more consistently through a social web then does unhappiness. By mapping out a network of social connections, it was found that happy people are found in clusters, and the more central one is in the network of relationships, the more likely they are to be happy and stay happy in the future.

Need more reasons to embrace friendships? Want to live longer? Keep your friends, make new ones and continue your relationships in your old age. While having a spouse had little impact on survival, a study of 3,000 nurses with breast cancer published in the Journal of Oncology found that women without close friendships were four times as likely to die then women with 10 or more friends. Another study, this time focused on longevity, found that when people aged 70 and above maintained close friendships and social ties, they had a 22 percent higher survival time. Australian researchers in this study also found no correlation between relationships with their children and relatives, just the friendships the subjects maintained.

Maybe it is all about who you know in life that makes a difference when it comes to attaining health and happiness. It’s not just a mind and body connection we need to be aware of. There is a third component, a person’s social ties, which can play a major role in one’s wellness, thus unveiling the mind-body-social network connection. It turns out, in one way or another, we are all influencing one another, spreading cheer or weight gain, and not only is it important to choose friends wisely and rekindle old friendships, it’s never too late to make new friends. It’s also important to remember you are part of larger phenomenon, influencing and leaving your mark in others’ lives.

The Upperville Colt & Horse Show


I look forward to the first full week of June every year. My colleagues automatically know I will be out of the office that week — on vacation, but not out of town. I’ll be where many horse lovers and enthusiasts will be: in beautiful Upperville, VA, just an hour outside of Washington, at the one and only Upperville Colt and Horse Show. For me, this event is nothing short of a full blown therapy session — but without all the psychobabble. The sights and sounds of the hustle and bustle around the show grounds renew my spirits and senses like nothing else can — the smell of the fresh horse stall bedding, the sound of the farrier’s hammer carefully shaping a horse shoe, and the gentle non-verbal conversation between horse and rider as they make their way through the course. It is truly magical and makes me anxiously anticipate my arrival at the barn every evening to tend to my own horses.

Celebrating its 157th year, the oldest horse show in the United States is set to run June 7 through 13. Attracting competitors from all over the United States and abroad, Upperville boasts seven full days of exciting hunter, jumper and breeder competitions.

Hunters and Jumpers
The term “hunters” refers to horses that participate in the sport of fox hunting, including their manners, ability to jump and how well they maintain a steady pace as they encounter each jump or “fence.” The criteria they are judged upon in the various hunter competitions or “classes” relates to the traits they must demonstrate to be successful in the hunt field. With hunters, it’s all about their style and stride. Some hunter classes also judge the horse’s body structure, which is referred to as its “conformation.”

Speed, stamina, and the ability to clear the course obstacles are what count in the various jumper classes. This is no easy feat, considering many of the jumps are three feet six inches to five or more feet tall, with spreads of up to six feet. Unlike the hunter classes, style, pace, and manners are not important, and are not judged. What matters is that horse and rider complete the course in as little time as possible without knocking down any of the obstacles.

A Week Under the Oaks
This year, the competition begins Monday, June 7 on what many refer to as “locals’ day” at the show, with the majority of hunter classes offered that day restricted to horses owned by residents of counties within a 60-mile radius of Upperville. Compared to the rest of show week, it’s a somewhat quieter day, perfect for kicking back in the newly renovated grandstand and taking it all in as the horses and riders leap through the hunter course under the beautiful and majestic hundred-year-old oaks of Grafton Farm. It’s also a great time for shopping. While some vendors are in the process of setting up their displays for the week, there are many that are already up and running and ready for business. It’s the perfect opportunity to pick up that one-of-a-kind item before it’s scooped up by other shoppers later in the week.

A full schedule of hunter classes are on tap for Tuesday, and the action kicks into high gear as the jumper classes begin across the street amid the rolling green terrain of Salem Farm. In the afternoon, the Founder’s Cup, restricted to horses bred and foaled in Virginia, honors the memory of Colonel Richard Henry Dulany — an avid horseman and the driving force behind the establishment of the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. One of the many highlights on Wednesday’s schedule of events is the “Paul and Eve Go as You Please Handy Hunter” class, held in memory of Paul and Eve Fout, two of Virginia’s most prominent and accomplished equestrians. On Thursday, the ponies come out to strut their stuff. Unbelievably adorable and the dream of many little girls, you won’t want to miss these pint-sized equines with over-the-top personalities. Don’t worry if you miss the ponies on Thursday — you’ll have the opportunity to catch them on Friday and Saturday too.

The weekend, of course, tends to draw the largest crowds, so plan to come early and spend the day. There’s plenty to see and do, and once you get there, you won’t want to leave soon anyway. Saturday morning features the Cleveland Bay breeder classes, and the ever-so-elegant ladies’ side saddle classes. Come see Upperville’s youngest riders (ages one to six years) make their appearance in the leadline competition on Saturday afternoon. With an adult handler keeping the pony in check, you won’t be able to stop smiling as you watch these young riders — dressed in proper attire, of course — make their way around the ring. On Sunday morning, additional breeder classes are scheduled, including those featuring the Irish Draught breed. The classic sport of carriage driving also takes center stage on Sunday with the Carriage Driving Grand Prix and the Concours d’Elegance.

The week-long event culminates Sunday afternoon with the Budweiser Upperville Jumper Classic. Not to be missed, this challenge features many of the top riders in the world. Bring a picnic of your own, or pick up something to eat from the food vendors at the show. Then grab a spot on the lawn overlooking the course and get ready for an exciting, hold-your-breath type of contest amid a colorful and extremely challenging course. It’s the perfect way to end an extraordinary week of competition. The only downside? Well, the show is held only once a year. But, like me, I’m willing to bet you’ll be looking forward to next year’s show before you leave your parking space.

For a complete schedule of events and information, check out their Web site at www.upperville.com.

Upcoming Events
The summer season in hunt country is kicking into full gear. Here’s just a few of the many upcoming events you may want to consider adding to your calendar.

Vintage Virginia Wine Festival
June 5 and 6, 2010
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bull Run Regional Park Special Events Center
Centreville, VA
www.vintagevirginia.com

Magnolias at the Mill Beer Festival
June 17, 2010
Magnolias at the Mill
Purcellville, VA
www.magnoliasmill.com

Twilight Polo at Great Meadow
Every Saturday through September 18, 2010
6:30 p.m.
The Plains, VA
www.greatmeadow.org

Fourth of July at Great Meadow
July 4, 2010
The Plains, VA
www.greatmeadow.org
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Slimming Down? Books for Dieters


Getting reliable nutrition or diet information is a challenge in today’s information super-highway. Out of the thousands of diet books out there, I have found maybe a handful which merit recommending. My specifications?

• The content is based on verifiable facts and good science
• The recommendations, if followed short or long term, will improve your health, rather than damage it
• It advocates a variety of foods, and doesn’t cut out important, nutritious food groups
• It promotes a positive attitude toward food and eating
• It’s practical and doesn’t require special drugs, diet foods, packaged foods or supplements which would be impossible to maintain
• It doesn’t advocate a way of eating with unacceptable side-effects
• It advocates a well-balanced existence, including physical activity, which is known to be essential to good health
• The reading is interesting, while the recommendations are simple and easy to follow.

My choices for some of the best diet books out there, authored by academic researchers and dietitians:

“The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan,” Barbara Rolls
Hands-down, “Volumetrics” is my favorite diet book. Barbara Rolls is a respected Penn State University nutrition researcher and the first to recognize the importance of high volume foods for weight loss and weight maintenance. Her philosophy is “Don’t deprive yourself — lose weight while eating more!” and it works. I live by this rule and have taught countless clients to do the same. I feel so positive about this approach I’ve adopted the “Volumetrics” concepts, among others, for my own book, “Diet Simple.” “Volumetrics” is full of practical ideas which work, and are proven by science and my own experience. The author treats the reader with respect by explaining the science behind the theories. It essentially includes 60 recipes, which my clients have found to be excellent.

“Thin for Life,” Anne M. Fletcher
Anne Fletcher is another author who knows her stuff. “Thin for Life” is based on highly respected research which has followed and studied people who have lost weight and kept it off for many years — the real pros. The chapters are divided into ten “keys to success.” “Thin for Life” refutes the oft-quoted claim that it’s impossible to lose weight and to keep it off. One of my favorite “keys” to success in the book, which I try to drill into my own clients, is “nip it in the bud.” Research has found that everyone experiences the same number of “slips” and stressors in their lives. The difference is the weight-relapsers let the slips turn into prolonged relapses and re-gain their weight. Successful weight loss maintainers view the “slip” as natural, as something to learn from, and get right back on track.

“Mindless Eating,” Brian Wansink
“Mindless Eating” is written by Cornell researcher Brian Wansink, an eating “behaviorist” who specializes in the passive ways people eat too much and how to change them. He’s discovered that we’re basically clueless about how much to eat (and if it’s in front of us, we’ll eat it!). If you’ve ever wondered why you ate all the popcorn at the movies or the whole serving of nachos for dinner — and have felt terrible — this book is for you. Wansink does ingenious experiments where he rigs bowls of soup to keep re-filling (with an apparatus under the table the subject knows nothing about) and finds the person keeps eating, and eating, and eating. He has found if food is less convenient, we are 10 times less likely to eat it. If the label announces “fat free,” we’ll eat more! If our food is on a smaller plate, we’ll eat less without realizing it. You get the idea. I use his research every day to improve my own eating habits and those of my clients.

“Weight Loss Confidential,” Anne M. Fletcher
This is a great book for teens (and their parents) that proves teenagers have the resources, with the proper support, to eat healthy, achieve appropriate weights and enjoy it.

“How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much” and “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense,” Ellyn Satter
A registered dietitian and clinical social worker, Ellyn Satter has written the best books to teach you how to raise your children to love healthy food and live healthy lives, without adverse side-effects of eating disorders or weight problems. Some of her topics include: “Is Your Toddler Jerking You Around at the Table?” “The Individualistic Teenager,” “How Much Should Your Child Eat?” “What is Normal Eating?” and “Nutritional Tactic for Preventing Food Fights.”

“Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right,” Joanna Dolgoff
This is a great book with simple techniques for teaching children healthy eating and how to lose weight healthfully. I recently heard the author, Joanna Dolgoff, give a presentation about her book and found her very practical and insightful — she advocates strategies I’ve used and know they work. Her philosophy: no food is off-limits, but she divides foods into three categories to make it easier for children to make decisions without being hung up on calories. Green light foods mean: Go! (unlimited, first choice foods), yellow light foods mean: Slow! (caution, eat in moderation), and red light foods mean: Uh oh! (an occasional treat).

Katherine’s favorite healthy cookbooks:
1) “The French Culinary Institute’s Salute to Healthy Cooking,” Jacques Pepin, et al.
2) “Mediterranean Light,” Martha Rose Shulman
3) “The New American Plate,” American Institute for Cancer Research
4) “Provencal Light,” Martha Rose Shulman

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. will customize an easy, enjoyable nutrition, weight loss, athletic or medical nutrition therapy program for you, your family or your company. She is the author of “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations,” and national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Contact her at katherine@katherinetallmadge.com or 202-833-0353. [gallery ids="99128,102659,102700,102691,102682,102675,102668" nav="thumbs"]

Steeplechase Races


Following is a sampling of the race meets and point-to-points scheduled for the spring of 2010. For a complete list of Virginia’s 2010 steeplechase events, visit the Virginia Steeplechase Association’s Web site at www.vasteeplechase.com.

Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point
Saturday, March 13, 12:30 p.m.
Airlie Race Course
Warrenton, VA
540-219-1400

Piedmont Fox Hounds Point-to-Point
Saturday, March 20, 1 p.m.
Salem Course
Upperville, VA
540-687-3455

Bull Run Hunt Point-to-Point
Sunday, March 21, 12:30 p.m.
Brandywine Park
Culpeper, VA
703-866-0509

Orange County Hunt Point-to-Point
Sunday, March 28, 1 p.m.
Locust Hill Farm
Middleburg, VA
540-687-5552

Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point
Saturday, April 3, 12 p.m.
Ben Venue Farm
Washington, VA
540-364-4573, 540-636-1507

Loudoun Hunt Point-to-Point
Sunday, April 11, 12:30 p.m.
Oatlands Plantation
Leesburg, VA
703-777-8480, 540-338-4031

Middleburg Spring Race Meet
Saturday, April 17 1 p.m.
Glenwood Park
Middleburg, VA
540-687-6545, 540-687-6595

Fairfax Hunt Point-to-Point
Sunday, April 18, 1:30 p.m.
Morven Park
Leesburg, VA
540-687-0611

Middleburg Hunt Point-to-Point
Sunday, April 25, 1 p.m.
Glenwood Park
Middleburg, VA
540-454-2991, 540-687-6069

Virginia Gold Cup Race Meet
Saturday, May 1, 1 p.m.
Great Meadow
The Plains, VA
540-347-2612

Raising Change


When it comes to educating the nation’s children, the talk always comes back, boomeranglike, to the almighty dollar — funding from the state, from the federal government, funding per student and household, funding for teachers and administrators.

The volatile combination that makes up the education debate — that is, students and how best to budget their scholastic upbringing — sparks some of the most heated name calling and bluster in the public forum.

Snips over the District’s public school budget have kept the newspapers working hard lately (as evinced the city council’s recent spat with DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee) but what you won’t hear about is the daily challenge for some schools to foot their own bill, that is, without help from taxpayers.

Enter the world of private education.

While the phrase conjures images of blazers and bookish upper-crusters, many private and parochial schools — which nationally are responsible for educating around 10 percent of students — operate on a lean budget, and aside from non-profit tax breaks and D.C.’s now-frozen voucher program, receive no public funding from the government. The business of keeping cash flowing freely, then, is a big one, and most of the nation’s private institutions have whole departments devoted to it.

Their job is to think of ways to drum up the dollars when tuition revenue won’t quite pay all the bills. And while most private schools are happy to accept donations from the general public, advancement departments usually have a few target markets in mind, with alumni and parents naturally serving as primary benefactors.

Most schools set a fundraising benchmark in the form of an annual fund, which aims to reach a certain dollar amount by the end of the school’s fiscal year. Annual funds are easy to donate to, are trackable — many schools keep a running tally on their websites — and can be tailored to commemorate a significant individual or date, say, the school’s centennial. They’re lucrative, too: Gonzaga College High School and St. Albans School report around 10 percent of their operating budget comes from annual fund revenue. In only 15 years, Woodley Park’s Maret School has increased its annual fund earnings from $250,000 to $1.6 million. Figures at other schools are smaller, but across the board annual fund revenue is cited as a gap-bridger when tuition, as it often does, only covers 80 to 85 percent of operating costs.

But advancement departments don’t just serve as liaisons for deep-pocketed alums. Most are composed of talented fundraisers with a knack for making donations worth the benefactor’s while. That means events — auctions, galas, golf showdowns and the like — which form a nicely symbiotic arrangement to earn money while fostering a lively social scene within the school community. Think of Washington’s storied gala scene on a smaller scale — and with higher-caliber small talk.

St. Albans, for example, is home to an active parents association that conducts the annual Christmas House Tour of five stately homes in Cleveland Park. The houses are typically owned by alumni or relatives of students, and through ticket and sponsorship proceeds, the tour has raised an average of $350,000 annually since 2004.

The yearly effort is contributed to the school’s Centennial Campaign, which is aiming for a hefty $80 million goal by the end of the year.

Sidwell Friends, the prestigious Quaker school with the Obama family bragging rights, recently passed — a year ahead of schedule — the $56 million benchmark for its Call Us Friends campaign, begun in 2002. The project was a grassroots effort by the school and over 150 volunteers (parents and students alike) to fund a new athletic center and fill out financial aid coffers for needy students.

The school’s annual auction and book club also directly benefit the Dollars for Scholars program, which has proved so successful that Sidwell Friends averages a guarantee of two-thirds tuition for its aid recipients — generous, given the school’s $30,000 price tag.

Many schools also maintain a long-term planned giving program, in which a lump sum is contractually placed in trust and supplies annual payment to an agreed-upon party. Georgetown Visitation’s Charitable Gift Annuity arranges for annuities to be paid to the donor for the duration of their life; afterward the original gift is bequeathed to the school. Opposite that is a Charitable Lead Trust, in which the school receives annuities for a slated amount of time before the gift is returned to the donor. Gonzaga, National Cathedral School and Maret School all conduct similar programs.

Talk about a step up from the bake sale.

2010 Summer Camp Guide


 

-Ah, summertime — the apogee of every kid’s year. The quarter-long punctuation of an existence measured in semesters and three-day weekends. The annual big kahuna of all vacations.

Adults living in Washington think of it as something of a dreadful time. You still go to work, you pay bills, you race around — just the same as any other season, only sweatier, and perhaps with a twinge of bitter animus that you, too, could once clear your schedule from Memorial to Labor Day, and you thought it endless.

But that is the great allure of summer: that children, who in many ways are always wise beyond their years, somehow convince themselves with astonishing zeal that it will never end, which is maybe what makes the experience so formative and special.

With the innocence of youth in mind, we’ve selected some of our favorite summer camps around the city and region. They have a funny way of making these hot three months fly by, but you can be sure the memories will endure.

Audubon Naturalist Society
www.audubonnaturalist.org, 301-652-9188
Where: Headquartered in Chevy Chase, MD; the Society operates two other camps in Leesburg and Clifton, VA.
When: The first programs begin June 21 and extend through mid-August. Full-day (9-4) or half day programs are available, depending on the child’s age and schedule. Overnight trips are available for older students.
How much: Classes start at $165.
Offering unique programs for children aged 4 to 15, Audubon’s camps are designed to foster environmental awareness among the nation’s youth. They feature direct experiences with our natural world through hands-on activities, games, crafts, experiments, and explorations. Campers can expect to spend most of their time outdoors, but every camp has an indoor classroom to use as a home base.

Levine School Music and Arts Day Camp
www.levineschool.org, 202-686-8000
Where: Campuses in D.C. (2801 Upton St., Van Ness), Bethesda’s Strathmore Center and Arlington (Ballston).
When: Full-day (9:30-3:30) and half-day (9:30-1:30) programs available from June 28-July 16 and July 19-August 6.
How much: $1044 for full-day students, $720 half-day.
Levine’s summer camp has a loyal following, with many campers returning each year. Levine nurtures the total musical child in a supportive and stimulating environment. Through singing, dancing, playing instruments and sharing artistic experiences, children develop skills for creative expression and aesthetic awareness that will last their entire lives.

TIC Summer Camp
www.ticcamp.com, 703-241-5542
Where: GWU’s satellite campus at 2100 Foxhall Road. Classes also available in Bethesda and McLean.
When: 8:30 to 3, five days per week. Four sessions are operated throughout the summer, the first beginning June 21. Each lasts about a week and a half.
How much: $800 per session.
Total nerd camp this isn’t: from the beginning, campers are divided into two age groups, juniors (6th grade and younger) and seniors (7th grade and older). Each day, one group takes technology courses geared for kids, while the other is immersed in an athletic program; after lunch the groups switch places, so that each camper gets three hours of technology instruction and three hours of sports each day.

Camp Arena Stage
www.arenastage.org/camp, 202-554-9066
Where: Georgetown Visitation School, 1524 35th St.
When: 9-4, five days a week. The camp offers a four-week intensive session beginning June 28 and a two-week half session beginning July 26.
How much: $1600 for full session, $900 half
Camp Arena Stage empowers young people to express themselves more fully through art by encouraging them to make art that speaks with their own voices. Campers create their own schedules, choosing from a host of classes in theater, music, dance, media and visual art. They can try unfamiliar art forms and/or pursue current artistic interests: it’s up to them.

Camp Shakespeare
www.shakespearetheatre.org, 202-547-5688
Where: STC’s rehearsal studios, 516 Eighth St. S.E.
When: 10-5 daily, sessions begin June 21.
How much: $695. And yes, the T-shirt’s included.
This two-week day camp aims to enhance the understanding of Shakespeare’s language through the exploration of movement, text, improvisation and performance. Young people ages 9-18 will analyze and interpret Shakespeare’s text, create dynamic characters with their bodies, voices, and imaginations and explore the art of stage combat. Camp will culminate with a performance for friends and family onstage at the Lansburgh Theatre.

Georgetown Day School’s Hopper Day Camp
www.gds.org, 202-274-1683
Where: GDS’ lower school, 4530 MacArthur Blvd.
When: Week-long sessions from 8:30 to 3, beginning June 21. Half-day options available.
How much: $395 per week, ages pre-K to 11.
For the youngsters. Start the day with 4 classes (arts, sports, drama, science, cooking & more) & spend the afternoons on water play, talent shows, field trips, Olympics and more. Each group of 5-10 campers will travel with a junior counselor; experienced teachers will lead each class.

Sheridan School’s Shenandoah Summer Camp
www.mountaincampus.org, 540-743-6603
Where: Sheridan Mountain Campus, Luray, VA.
When: All-day sessions beginning early July. Most last five days, but older students may opt for two-week programs.
How much: Sessions start at $565. High school-level “Ironman” programs run around $1300.
For the adventurer in every family, Sheridan’s classic outdoor camp centers on community building, mastering outdoor skills and back-to-nature basics. You also can’t get a more idyllic setting: the 130-acre campus borders the Shenandoah River and Shenandoah National Park near Luray (not to mention its famous caverns). Campers will have their pick of opportunities to view wildlife and woods, and certainly make a few friendships along the way.

Georgetown University Summer Day Camp at Yates Field House
yates.georgetown.edu
Where: Located right on Georgetown University at Yates Field House and Kehoe Field
When: Six weeks offered with the first program beginning June 21 and the last program beginning July 26. Camp hours are from 9am to 4pm. After care is available until 4:30pm.
How Much: Weekly tuition for Yates members is $275. Non-Yates members $375. Register online.
Yates Summer Day Camp is celebrating their 30th year as a comprehensive day-long camp at Yates Field House and Kehoe Field. Campers ages 6-10 years enjoy activities such as arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor games, swimming, movies, talent shows and much more.

At School Without Walls, A Theatre Without Limits


As the old adage goes, “Those who can’t do, teach.”

However, this is not quite the case for Tyler Herman, the 23-year-old theatre instructor of Washington’s acclaimed magnet school, School Without Walls.

Referred to by students and faculty as “Walls,” the institution is well recognized as the best public high school in the District, and one of the best in the region. Established in 1971, SWW is of a certain Montessorian ilk, helping students to expand their education beyond the classroom “Walls” and turn the nation’s capital into an equal player in their intellectual cultivation. With a student body of less than 500, the students are afforded plenty of individual attention to help shape their futures.

Backed by new principal Richard Trogisch and Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the school has recently been restructuring itself to achieve higher academic standards in an ever-expanding, open-ended classroom environment. The new building, in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, forgoes lockers to keep the school looking less like an institution, and more like a welcoming environment for children to learn.

SWW has a partnership with The George Washington University to provide classes free of charge for qualifying juniors and seniors. The newly established GW Early College Program offers students the opportunity to achieve an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts while they’re still in high school, granting them access to all the educational amenities that GW has to offer. The school’s Gilder Lehrman Initiative funds historic field trips around the region with visiting historians serving as guest lecturers and seminar leaders.

The list of student electives — of which they are free to take plenty — rivals some colleges, and there are mandatory internships within the city for graduating seniors.

Yet, as of last November, there was no theatre department. Enter Herman.

A recent graduate of Cornell, Herman came back to the area, having grown up in Silver Spring. With a degree in theatre and dance, and a minor in music, he didn’t have much intention to teach upon graduation. “I wanted to be an artist,” he says.

Picking up small work in a number of local theatres, he began instructing youth theatre programs part-time at Round House Theatre and other local high schools. “I had heard a lot of horror stories about public schools,” says Herman. “Students are unruly and uninterested.” But when Walls approached him to take on a position in their theatre program’s maiden voyage, he was surprised at what he found.

“A 99 percent graduation rate, and a 95 percent college-bound rate,” he exclaims. “These kids are smart. And they want to learn.”

Still, Herman maintained that he didn’t want to simply be a teacher. He laid out his objective in starting the theatre program as a working actor. “I’m big on creating work,” he says. “I am a working actor in this town, so I want to bring it around to the community, create a mindset of not just fun, but a career.”

Herman’s mission is to use the school’s fresh program as a way to reach out to the community, producing relevant work with as much input from the students as possible. The productions are not just for the public, but are inspired from within the public.

As SWW’s first main-stage production, Herman chose Molière’s “The Miser,” a satirical comedy about a rich moneylender and his children who wish to escape his penny-pinching household (allude away, my fellow metropolitans).

However, the copy Herman had was a translation from the 1950s (Molière was French), which, according to Herman, “Felt stuffy, not very timely or relevant.” So Herman, fluent in French, took it upon himself to re-translate the show, change a few characters around, put in a song and dance break, and fill in plot holes from the original script.

The style of theatre is actor driven, the leads played their own instruments, most being members of the high school band. Herman even decided to have the students play their own songs, which they began improvising onstage, creating a different theatre experience every night.
In many sections of the new text, Herman would merely write down framework and recommendations, then had the students “Create their own moment.”

“They made the show their own by crafting the characters they were creating, making it genuinely funny for them and the audience every night. Taking ownership of the theatre … I come in with my ideas, and they take it and do their own thing, and sometimes it’s even better. So, encouraging that creativity has become a huge part of the process.”

He wants his students to tell their own stories. “I don’t want to create high school-level work,” he says. “I want to create real work that’s done by high school students.”
Herman is now looking to get certified as a teacher — no teaching degree, just to be clear, but a vocation degree.

As far as his own work is concerned, he is working through the summer with Young Playwrites Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and Round House Theatre. He will soon be appearing in “In Faction of Fools” with Welders Theatre Company.

A year out of school, and Herman is entrenched in theatre. He is beginning the framework of a winter festival at SWW with work primarily written by his students. A Shakespeare drama in the fall, a musical in the spring, all while working on his own theatre projects outside the classroom.

If the old adage had come about with Herman in mind, it would surely read a little differently: “Those who teach, do.”

Farm Dogs


In the morning he would explode from the stable doors, a chaff-colored blur of lolling tongue and drumming footpads and ears all aflutter. As he ran he flung little clods of grass in every direction, meandering through the field as if it were an airy forest of his own design. Behind, the wood barn, light brown, stained with rain and standing in the shadow of quiet limestone mountains. Below them, the coal shelves and the strange subterranean reaches of mystic Appalachia.

But none of that was on Peanut’s mind. The sun was out, he was free, and if you thought it impossible for a Labrador to smile, you’d have been mistaken. Five years later, the Georgetown pooch has since graduated to more celestial pastures, but the Shenandoah Valley barn remains with a standard roster of around 25 canine guests. The boarding facility is the property of Country Dogs, started by Mark and Victoria Cave, who found their first customer in Peanut. The lab now graces the front page of the company’s website. “I spoke with [Peanut’s owner, a Georgetown resident] a year ago or so and said, ‘You know, we’ve never taken down that picture of Peanut. He was our first boarder.’ She was tearing up … We still have those real solid relationships with our old customers,” Mark Cave says.

It isn’t surprising. After all, it’s not always easy for vacationing dog owners to find a place to stay for their best friend, let alone a door-to-door service that carts dogs between the Washington
metro area and the 17-acre farm just south of Front Royal, converted in July 2004 to accommodate dogs. Cave and his wife — both former teachers at the Maret School in Woodley Park — got the idea from Josh Tuerk of Puppy Love Petsitters, who mentioned the high demand among dog lovers for boarding that wasn’t, well, dungeonlike.

That’s the draw of Country Dogs. After the shuttle ride from the city, boarders are led to spacious,
oversized stalls in what was once a barn for horses. Each dog is let out, off leash, into a giant fenced run for four to six hours a day and is free to explore the pond and fields with other furry guests.
Sounds like summer camp, only without the cafeteria food.

For the Caves, that’s exactly what makes their business unique. They eschew the concrete
paddocks and noisy corridors of traditional kennels in favor of a healthier, more peaceful setting, one that affords their boarders some freedom — and a chance to shake off the stress of being away from home.

“I don’t try to cut people down who are in the industry who are doing it other ways,” Cave says. “But we do believe strongly in the idea of fresh air and exercise.”

It’s catching on. Although the Caves count Washington as their original target market, they have since expanded to serve New York and Philadelphia with a 69-acre farm in Bethel, PA. Another facility serving Boston is in the works.

Both farms are designed for long-term boarding, with an average stay of 13 days. Some canine companions drop in for only a weekend, but Cave says the farms have hosted canine companions for six months or more.

He warns that customers can expect limited availability during the holidays— the D.C./Northern Virginia farm is booked for Thanksgiving and Christmas — but says last-minute spots do open up occasionally. Naturally, reservations are more easily obtained during the post-holiday lull.
Which, as any smart traveler knows, is the best time to leave town anyway. But don’t forget
your dog just might be having more fun.

Country Dogs charges a boarding rate of $35 per night, with a $22.50 transportation fee each way. Find out more at [www.country-dogs.net](www.country-dogs.net).

Debate ensues over winery noise levels


 

-It’s a battle fought over noise, lighting, property and business rights, with outspoken and vehement players on both sides.

And it was waged at Warrenton’s Green Building with surprising civility.

Virginia wine country residents and owners gathered in the sleepy Fauquier town Nov. 12 to debate the proposed amendment to a county ordinance outlining rights for the region’s burgeoning — and wildly successful — wine industry. Per the request of neighbors, the amended version curtails wine tasting hours to a traditional window of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Evening events are limited to one per week with up to 60 attendees, and one per month with up to 200.

Under the amendment, outdoor amplified music is prohibited, and lighting must conform to the county’s light shielding specifications.

Neighbors say the proposal is the only way they can guarantee a little peace and quiet for themselves since the advent of the wineries over the past decade. Farm wineries are known for hosting events frequently as a publicity tool and to gather a community around their product.

Opponents of this approach denounce it as an excuse to throw raucous parties.

“The public welfare is abused by wineries when they establish a massive industrial processing
plant,” said neighbor Jack Holtz of Delaplane, who said the trucks, traffic and party noise destroy the region’s rural magic. One accuser even said — almost jokingly — that local wine quality is inversely proportional to the winery’s social scene.

Wyla Layton of Marshall called the behavior of many wineries “self-defeating,” saying that frustrated neighbors will eventually be forced to sell out to multi-use developers.

Other neighbors simply took exception to amplified music. Wayne Peterson of Broad Run, who lives near the popular Pearmund Cellars, said, “Our biggest issue is noise. We can hear everything at that winery.”

Winery owners spoke passionately in defense of their businesses, but for the most part seemed to listen closely to their neighbors’ cases.

Dan Mortland of Fox Meadow Winery said the county already has a process to regulate wineries that is underused, and further restrictions would prove stifling.

“Just use your process,” Mortland said. “We’re not interested in being a party business, but events are necessary.”

Brian Roeder of Barrel Oak Winery sought to temper some of characterizations engendered by neighbors.

“We are not industrial complexes, we are artisanal businesses,” he said, pointing out the small-sized vintages and cozy tasting rooms of each establishment. Roeder also cited sharp rises in California property values due to the farm wine industry, and said Virginia’s industry
brings in $4 million in annual revenue to the state.

“You guys are in a bind financially,” Roeder told the Fauquier Board of Supervisors, who earlier
reported a loss in revenue resulting from the economic recession. “Don’t knock down the wineries.”

The hearing served primarily as a discussion forum. Board Chairman R. Holder Trumbo said testimony would be gathered for another month before the issue is taken to a vote.