By Victoria Stibrik
The era of online learning and COVID-19 is no walk in the park for many families. No recess, no time with friends and no activities, except for homework.
Great Wolf Lodge Arizona resort and indoor waterpark has presented families with a creative solution, combining school and vacation with its new Howl ’n Learn package to give families a safe, fun and productive way to conduct their e-learning.
“We put the Howl ’n Learn Package and Wiley’s Schoolhouse together to be a convenience factor for families,” says Jason Lasecki, director of corporate communications for Great Wolf Lodge. “As more and more schools went to remote or e-learning, we put this together so families could have a place to come where they could do their e-learning.”
The package can be added on for a flat rate of $85, which includes program participation, a pre-packaged snack, and late checkout at 2 p.m.
Students can complete their schoolwork in the on-site classroom, which has high-speed internet access and supervision by the kids’ entertainment team. Snacks, crafts and recess breaks are also provided to create a happy and healthy learning environment.
“We’ll have Wiley (the Wolf) come in, in the morning, and get people going by doing some stretching exercises and getting the wiggles out,” Lasecki says, adding that this can help kids really focus on their learning.
To ensure everyone’s safety, face coverings are required, hand sanitizer will be applied and reapplied, and desks are spaced 8 to 10 feet apart, with plexiglass barriers. “Physical distancing is a huge thing,” Lasecki says.
Pack members at Great Wolf Lodge Arizona monitor guests, making sure they aren’t huddled together or wandering off near other families. In addition, there are hand sanitizer dispensers placed every 10 to 15 feet within the resort, and efforts have been made to make everything as contactless as possible.
“I think that with all those measures that we have in place, we’ve seen that families are interested in coming to Great Wolf Lodge and getting that getaway or that escape that they’ve been craving,” Lasecki says.
The beauty of this program is that parents have uninterrupted time all to themselves. Parents can relax, catch up on their own work or go down waterslides—the possibilities are endless.
The Howl ’n Learn package has not been implemented at all Great Wolf Lodge locations across the country. “We’re actually piloting it at five locations,” Lasecki says.
The five include the Arizona location and the ones in Grapevine, Texas; Gurnee, Illinois; Pocono Mountain, Pennsylvania; and LaGrange, Georgia.
“If we see it perform well at those five resorts, then there’s very much a likelihood that we can expand it to others,” Lasecki says.
Wiley’s Schoolhouse e-learning adventure is available through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but it does have some potential to get extended for longer.
“We’ve definitely designed it as a convenience for those families who are dealing with remote learning right now, and if we see remote learning continue on after the Thanksgiving break, it’s definitely something that we would look to continue to extend,” Lasecki says.
Since it was launched on September 21, the program has been received well by participants.
“We’ve seen a really nice acceptance thus far of families who are really looking for that option to have a little different, change of pace with their e-learning,” Lasecki says.
Once the online learning is done and the crafts are completed to perfection, the resort awaits.
“I think the light for the kids is the fact that you can’t have a better after-school activity than going out of your e-learning classroom and going to play in the waterpark,” Lasecki says.
“Playgrounds at your school? That’s nothing. Coming to Great Wolf Lodge for e-learning and having that amazing waterpark as your after-school activity—that’s something that I think a lot of kids will remember for a long, long time.”
Great Wolf Lodge’s Howl ’N Learn, 7333 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.948.9653, greatwolf.com/howl-n-learn.