4. A POSTCARD FROM: SUMMER CAMP (FAMILY STYLE)
Canoeing and kayaking? Check. S’mores by the campfire? Check. Picturesque, lakeside setting? Check. Luxury accommodations? Oh, yeah, now we’re talking. When it comes to having a camp-style vacation with the kids, we grown-ups want all the activities, but let’s face it — we’d prefer to land our tired heads on a goose-down pillow and 400-thread-count sheets when it’s lights-out time. So in selecting a place to spend some serious playtime with my family, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation beckoned. Located on the Lake Oconee waterfront 75 miles outside of Atlanta, the resort is a 30-acre playground for kids and adults alike.

Every camp needs a good mascot to make you feel welcome upon arrival; this Ritz-Carlton has Dooley. Dooley, a lovable chocolate Labrador retriever, gave us welcome wags as we entered the stunning resort. From the lobby windows, our children quickly spied what would be our first activity: the seated rope swings. The three kids took turns rocketing into the air, their feet kicking up as if to reach the needles of the towering Georgia pines. When they were finished, they started to run off to explore more of the grounds, thinking, no doubt, that we would be right behind them. But not so fast; I, too, wanted to try soaring into the trees, which left the children pleasantly perplexed. Family camp was officially in session.

It didn’t take us long to get acquainted with Lake Oconee, and many of the resort’s activities are indeed lake-based. We took a pontoon tour, raced around on Jet Skis, and tooled around the lake in a canoe. At day’s end, when the adults were ready for a break and the kids’ never-ending energy required a new challenge, we retreated to the beach, where the children splashed in the water and made sand creations as my husband and I lounged nearby.

Nights, we dined lakeside at Gaby’s by the Lake or Georgia’s Bistro, where we took in the Sunday-night pig roast. Afterwards, we headed to the fire pit to roast marshmallows for s’mores, then played games like basketball and horseshoes before, happily exhausted, we retreated to our room.

Too quickly, our family camp vacation was ending. We hadn’t taken advantage of even nine of the 99 holes of golf, nor had we utilized Ritz Kids so that the children could have fun, sans parents, and my husband and I could have time together, sans kids. Ultimately, though, this getaway was about bonding as a family through outdoor activities. And, of course, getting a really good night’s sleep in between. -BY LORI STACY



TAKE AWAY: Sometimes kids forget that adults were once young too. This trip will remind them — and you — that you know how to have fun.    

TIPS:  On an action-packed vacation, you’ll want a multitasking camera. I used the compact-but-powerful Sony NEX-3N, with interchangeable lens capability and an expansive lineup of features and effects.  $499
store.sony.com  


DETAILS: The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation
(706) 467-0600
ritzcarlton.com