Looking to spend quality time with your family this summer while also exploring your own interests? The Omega Institute in Rhinebeck may have just the right solution. From Aug. 8-13, Omega hosts Family Week, a program that allows parents and their children the opportunity to enjoy time together as a family, as well as time apart to pursue individual interests.
"Family Week is a lovely idea of a family vacation in a holistic setting," said Carol Donahoe, Omega's assistant director of programming. "There's a real feeling of family and community."
Throughout the year, the Omega Institute offers a number of educational programs for personal development. During Family Week, a special schedule is created that offers a variety of workshops for adults and children. Adults can choose from workshops such as "Whole Foods Cooking for the Family" and "Everyday Dharma," while the kids get to choose from different camps such as "West African Drumming & Fabric-Making" and "Little Forest People." The family meets for meals and enjoys the evening's entertainment with each other.
"While you get the opportunity to take a workshop you're interested in, you know that your children are in a basketball or photography camp having a great time themselves," Donahoe said.
Family Week was started 20 years ago by one of Omega's co-founders, Elizabeth Lesser.
"Elizabeth was raising her own children here at Omega and saw a need for this," Donahoe said. "It's one of those programs that people love and return to every year."
This year, the five-day program offers 12 camps total -- seven workshops for adults and five for children. The youngest age for kids to go to camp is 6, but there is also day care available for younger children.
"During the day both the parents and children have opportunities to take care of themselves and have fun," Donahoe said.
One of the children's camps is "New Visions Photography Camp" with Todd Shapera, a professional photographer and journalist. It is open to children from 8-13. This will be Shapera's fourth year teaching it. "It's not a technical class," he said. "It's about trying to see the world in new and different ways." Shapera helps the children look at ordinary things and see them in an interesting manner.
"It's very refreshing to see what the kids come up with," he said. "It's incredible, really."
Ellen Riley attended Omega's basketball camp for adults for many years. When asked to teach basketball camp for children during Family Week, she happily accepted. "I think Family Week is one of the most wonderful models I have ever seen," she said. "Everybody does his or her own thing for a bit, but then they come back together. The parents and kids just love it."
Riley's basketball camp is titled "Beyond Basketball," and includes basic drills and more. It is open for kids 8-12, many of whom return year after year. "It's all in the spirit of cooperation, camaraderie, fun and safety," Riley said. "It's a great kind of community. Families and kids grow up together."
Psychotherapist and expressive movement teacher Rachel Fleischman is teaching "Dance Your Bliss: Connect Motion with Emotion for Profound Healing & Joy," one of the seven workshops offered to adults. "I'm really excited to do Family Week," she said. "The climate of family week is immediate joy, and I'm very excited to be a part of that."
Fleischman also looks forward to helping people have fun while they heal. "I'm all about creating a safe space and assessing what each person needs in that space," she said. "I help people move out of their heads and into their bodies in order to heal."
Other workshops include, "Healthy Living From the Inside Out: Yoga, Walking & Self-Care" for adults, and "The Wayfinder Experience" for children. Family Week often has other little goodies; for instance, this year there will be a trapeze on campus that participants can sign up for.
"Family week is Omega at its most playful," Fleischman said. "It's really very rich, although every week at Omega is magical."
This post was originally written for Gannett Newspapers