Semi-Useful Training Camp Guide--Pt. 2: Kids

This is the second installment in our series of semi-useful tips for Minnesota Vikings Training Camp in Mankato, Minnesota. This time it is all about surviving a trip to Vikings Training Camp with your kids. Going anywhere with kids is a whole different experience. We have a few tips to, hopefully, make it a good one.

Family atmosphere
The NFL actively promotes football as family entertainment and that is very apparent at Training Camp. Vikings Village has lots of games geared toward young fans every day and there are a few special activities for kids during camp—mostly on Family Football Day (Saturday, August 5th). This is the same day as the night practice at Blakeslee Stadium, the team introductions, and the fireworks.

Click on this link for the full Family Football Day schedule.

These youth activities are free, but children must be registered in order to participate in the events. According to the information on the Vikings’ site, there is no pre-registration for these events. You must be at the morning walk-thru on the day of the event to register if your child wishes to participate in these activities. There will be a registration tent near the Blakeslee Stadium field entrance.

Click on this link for the full details on the Vikings’ Youth events.

  • Gatorade Jr. Training Camp—Open to boys and girls of all ages, this is a Play 60 Youth Training Camp activity and it will be at Blakeslee Stadium. There will be two clinics: Clinic #1 on Wednesday, August 2nd from 12:30pm to 1:30pm, and Clinic #2 will be on Saturday, August 5th from 12:00pm to 1:00pm.
  • The Minnesota Vikings Jr. Cheer Clinic—This free event is hosted by the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders and is open to children of all ages. It will be on Saturday, August 5th from 2:00pm to 3:00pm at Blakeslee Stadium.

Quick eats
Kids seem to go from uninterested in food to absolutely starving drama queens in seconds. Here are some food options close to Training Camp for when you need something really fast.

  • Vikings Village—The food options here are of the ballpark and snack variety, and as close as it gets.
  • Centennial Student Union—With the University being open and operational during Training Camp, the campus services are also open, like the Student Union. There are food court options, Chick-fil-A, and Jazzman’s Cafe and Bakery (7am-12pm). As an added bonus, you can soak up air-conditioning and there are large, clean bathrooms.
  • Chipotle, Weggy’s On Campus, Noodles and Co., Cold Stone Creamery, and Jimmy John’s—Located just about a block from the practice fields on the corner of Warren St. and Stadium Road, these are quick, easy options for hungry kids. With customizable food options, you can keep picky eaters happy without having to go too far. Plus, ice cream.

It isn’t just a nasty sunburn that can ruin your day at Training Camp, heat can be a serious health threat, especially to children. Children are at a greater risk for heat-related illness than adults because their bodies don’t adjust to heat changes in the environment as well as adults’ bodies do, and they sweat less but produce more body heat than adults during physical exertion. And kids may not want to stop what they are doing to drink water or go inside to take a break from the heat.

Every year at camp I see little kids at the afternoon practice who are on the verge of passing out from the heat. It’s better to prevent a problem than to have to deal with an emergency. Here are a few tips to help prevent heat-related illness in your kids at Training Camp:

  • Hydrate–If they will drink water, regularly remind them to drink water even if that means endless trips to the bathroom. If they won’t, find a liquid they will drink like Gatorade or lemonade or a shaved ice cone.
  • Take a break–Sure your kid might want to hunt down autographs between the morning and afternoon practices, but they need a break from the heat. On the MSU campus, the Centennial Student Union is big, air-conditioned, and has a food court. There are a few restaurants near the campus on Stadium Road too. You could also head to the movies or go for a swim. More on those ideas later.
  • Heat products–If you’re going to spend a hot afternoon watching practice you might want to invest in products to help you beat the heat. Clothing companies UnderArmor, Columbia, and Hanes all have clothing made with fabrics that claim to help keep you cool. There are also cooling towels that can be draped around your neck or small, handheld, battery-powered fans that can provide some relief.
  • Know when to call it quits–No practice, autograph, or picture is worth your kid’s health. Trust your instincts and, if you think the heat is getting to your child, pull rank and call it quits for the day.
  • First Aid–If you or your child should succumb to heat or get injured, you can head to the Ambulance/First Aid Station. It is located at the northwest corner of Blakeslee Stadium. Never hurts to locate the First Aid station as a precaution before anything happens so you know where to find it if you’re in a panic. It’s also a good place to assign as a family meeting spot if you get separated.

But I’m bored
Maybe we can blame it on the 21st century, but kids seem to get bored faster all the time. Here are a few additional activity ideas for while you’re in Mankato. Here are just a few ideas, look at the Visit Mankato site for more.

  • NatureMinneopa State Park is only about 7 miles from MSU, but a vastly different kind of experience. You can hike around waterfalls, see bison, visit a historic mill, fish, camp, and more.
  • Day at the MuseumChildren’s Museum of Southern Minnesota has a variety of exhibits for kids of all ages who want to get out of the sun and heat but still need to move. They can scramble around on six connected tree forts, see what working in a quarry was like, explore agriculture, and can use their STEAM skills to make things. Check the website for hours, admission prices, and current exhibits.
  • Water ways–Spend some time on the water with an excursion from Bent River Outfitter. They have what you need to kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board around the areas waterways.
  • Splash–Cool off with some quality time in the water at one of Mankato’s City Outdoor Summer Pools. With daily admission rates as low as $2.50 for children six years old or older, the city pools are affordable fun.
  • Bounce–It’s not just Tiggers who love to bounce. Bounce Town is an indoor play place where kids can bounce to their hearts’ content.
  • Relax–All worn out? There are three movie theaters in Mankato so you and your kids can soak up the air-conditioning and enjoy the latest super-hero reboot. The AMC Classic Mankato 6 is the theater closest to the MSU campus.