Packed & Ready for the Next Excursion with Mark’s Outdoors

Packed & Ready for the Next Excursion with Mark’s Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

For quality luggage and everything else you need for your next adventure, visit Mark’s Outdoors in Vestavia.

Vacation, vacation, vacation. That’s what summer is all about, right? Whether you are spending time with the family at the beach soaking in the strong summer sun, or looking for that next hill to climb to check off your summer bucket list, you need to be prepared with the best-equipped luggage. Summer vacations are rendered useless without the proper luggage at your hip and why not do it in style and with the peace of mind that it will last you for life?

This is where Mark’s Outdoors has you set and ready to go. Stop in and take a look at their amazing selection of Filson Luggage. In business since 1897, Filson has thrived on a reputation of honesty, quality, durability and listening to what their customers want. With a lifetime warranty, these canvas goldmines will give you the style and toughness needed for any type of vacation, business trip, or overnight weekend in the great outdoors.

Mark’s Outdoors selection of Filson pieces include everything from small excursion bags to rolling check-in bags. Depending on the size, pieces range in price from $175 to $600. Filson uses only the best materials obtainable and guarantees it on every piece of merchandise.

Visit Mark’s and set yourself up for the long haul, knowing you are putting trust in over 100 years of experience in the Luggage industry with Filson and the customer care of Mark’s Outdoors.

– Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822- 2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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Fishing at its Best: Mark’s Outdoors

Fishing at its Best: Mark’s Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

“Super Dave” McLaughlin helps customers at Mark’s Outdoors find the rod, reel and tackle best suited for them.

A day in search of a big catch is the perfect way to create quality time with family and friends while enjoying God’s great outdoors. To make the most of your next fishing trip, consider taking a few minutes to learn about the latest in fishing equipment. At Mark’s Outdoors, “Super Dave” McLaughlin takes time to meet with customers and teach them about what will work best for them when fishing on Alabama lakes or out on the Gulf. Dave covers all four of the basics of great fishing: Reel, Rod, Tackle and Electronics

Reel. Your choice in reels will depend in part on what type of fish you want to catch. If you are fishing for bream an expensive rod work will work well. If you want to catch a sizable bass, you will want to invest more in your reel. Dave suggests looking at the extensive Shimano line for a reel that will fit your needs ($69-$800).

Rod. Depending upon how serious you are about your fishing and where and what you intend to fish will dictate the size of your rod investment. Dave suggests G-Loomis ($190-$600) and Shimano ($10-$400). For the young fisherman in the family, Dave suggests starting out with a combo rod and reel ($20-$30) and then moving up to more sophisticated equipment.

Tackle. With summer temps rising, Dave suggests fishing in the evenings when the fish are more likely to bite and the weather is more comfortable. Mark’s Outdoors has a large stock of tackle designed specifically for night fishing on Alabama waters including lures ( about $6.99) made by Falcon, Dumaflodger and Davis Bait-all locally produced. As Dave says, “They know what works around here.”

Electronics. If you are serious about fishing, consider investing in a quality depth finder. Dave suggests Humminbird electronics for a great product with superior customer service. Depth finders start at about $500 and go all the way up to $3100. Depth finders equipped with GPS, larger screens and side imaging will increase the price of your investment but also make your fishing experience that much more exciting.

-Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822-2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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Alabama Splash Adventure: A Koch Family Masterpiece

Alabama Splash Adventure: A Koch Family Masterpiece

Are We There Yet?

Alabama Adventure offers great rides like the Drop Zone and Tea Cups. Alabama Splash Adventure Owner Pat Koch is seen here (third from left) experiencing Drop Z.

Alabama Splash Adventure owners Pat and Dan Koch have a unique amusement park to say the least. The goal of the mother son team is simple. Provide guests the best family atmosphere a park can offer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Many amusement parks can be very draining on a family’s bank account but the Koch’s park is different in that regard. “We offer seven stations of free drinks called the Pepsi Oasis so our guests don’t have to wait in line,” Koch said. “We also want to keep our guests healthy and hydrated with water and Gatorade.” When the Alabama summer heat gets to guests, the park also offers the Star Theater for groups to meet and greet other guests.  The Koch’s also offer free sunscreen stations throughout the park for guests to take care of their skin. “We are a family,” Koch said. “We want to offer a great family atmosphere, which is what we strive for.” In order to do that, mother and son hardly ever leave the park. They are constantly adapting and upgrading the park in any way possible to enhance visitors’ experience.

The Koch’s take pride in keeping the park litter free and the attention to detail is evident. The rides have been updated and new ones added like the Drop Zone which takes riders 30 feet in the air and Teacup which is a fun, easy ride for the whole family to experience.

Despite the ups and downs of owning an amusement park, Pat Koch always keeps her faith in perspective and feels blessed. “My faith plays a role in everything that I do,” Koch said. “Two women say to me we pray for you every time we pass the park because we want you to be successful.”

If you are looking for a fun venue to take your family at a reasonable price, Alabama Splash Adventures has everything and more, www.alabamasplash.com.

Plus, this month Birmingham Christian Family is giving away a Family 4-Pack (four general admission tickets) to the park. To enter, simply Like and Follow our Facebook Page, Facebook.com/BirminghamChristianFamily and Share the Alabama Splash Adventure Family 4-Pack post. Offer Ends July 18, 2017.

-Brian Hill

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Active Summers Build Lasting Memories, Stronger Families: YMCA

Active Summers Build Lasting Memories, Stronger Families: YMCA

Healthy Living

Going about our busy lives, we brave daily the challenges of adulthood, parenthood, and livelihood. For the sake of our families, we will confront any foe, dispute any injustice, and dedicate our lives to working overtime. Ah, but these are not the things we’ll remember most. Families are built and bonded with love, the kind of love that sticks beyond the spitballs and hair-pulling years. They’re tied by the special and FUN memories they share together.

Family outings are one of the best investments you can make with your time – and often with very little expense. Remember the excitement of outdoor picnics, scenic road trips, weekend sporting events, and long, magical summers spent swimming at the lake, playing volleyball, climbing rocks, catching frogs, and hiking through the woods.

When we commit early to spending quality, active time together as a family, we are strengthening our relationships with each other, while creating many happy memories. However, we are also establishing lifelong, healthy habits our children will take with them into adulthood. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Start children off in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.” This can apply both spiritually and physically – we train our children first in the walk of God; we can also train them toward leading a healthy lifestyle.

This summer, when you participate with your family in sports, outdoor games and other physical activities, you are helping your kids build strength, coordination, and heart-health. Physical exercise will also help your kids avoid obesity, and has been known to improve their self-confidence, social skills, and mental clarity. Great news for struggling young students!

It has often been said that laughter is the best medicine, a maxim inspired by Proverbs 17:22: “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” There is nothing as beautiful as a child’s laughter. Take the time to make your children laugh this summer. Make playtime a priority. Get outside, get involved, and exercise! It’s a fun way to spend time with your family, and a sincere, outward expression of your love and dedication. You’ll be starting your children on the road to a healthy, active, and happy life. And you’ll be making special family memories your children will always treasure.

Summer is a great time at the YMCA of Greater Birmingham. Here, families socialize, kids splash and people of all ages learn and grow together. The Y is more than a gym. It’s a gathering place that strengthens the community, inside and out. Join the YMCA of Greater Birmingham online at ymcabham.org/join.

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org 

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Dad & the Outdoors: Mark’s Outdoors

Dad & the Outdoors: Mark’s Outdoors

The Great Outdoors  

Looking for that perfect Father’s Day gift? The staff at Mark’s Outdoors is ready to assist you in finding a gift Dad will love and use. Besides being a one stop shop for hunting and fishing needs, Mark’s also carries a wide variety of lifestyle products for the husband or father in your life. Here are just a few ideas for Father’s Day.

Keep it Cool. Out in the Alabama summer heat, Dad is sure to appreciate a Yeti or Orca gift. Mark’s has in stock Yeti coolers ranging in size from 20-210 quarts and they all come with a five year warranty. Orca coolers are also available in 26-58 quart sizes and each comes with a lifetime warranty. Mark’s also offers both Orca and Yeti beverage options from small to tall to keep Dad’s drink ice cold or piping hot ($20-$30).

Play it Safe. Shirts with sun protection are a great gift for the dad who spends anytime outdoors. Mark’s has sizes ranging from small to 3x in great colors and styles from the top men’s sportswear brands including Columbia, Simms, and AFTCO.

Enjoy Function, Style & Craftsmanship. Mark’s Outdoors knife specialist Chris Thompson oversees the inventory of the Southeast’s largest and best selection of knives ranging from “mild to wild” in design and price. In stock selections include brands like William Henry ($350-$2200 range) and Chris Reeve ($400-$500 range). Besides knives, the William Henry brand also offers a great line of men’s jewelry that has the same distinct style as their knives. Particularly popular is the William Henry bracelet made from leather and forged damascus steel and accented with gem stones ($400).

Besides remembering your Dad with a gift this Father’s Day, most importantly, we hope you will have the opportunity to spend some time with your Dad- if at all possible, in God’s great outdoors.

Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822-2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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Super Summer Camp Opportunities 2017

Super Summer Camp Opportunities 2017

Ballet
The Alabama Ballet
is hosting summer camps for children ages 4-12. Tutus & Tiaras is for ages 4-7 and offered July 17-21 and July 24-28 from 10am-2pm. The Cost is $250 per week. Junior Camp is for dancers ages 8-12 and is offered June 26-July 7, 10am-3pm. The cost is $475 for 2 weeks or $285 for one week. The camps will be held at the Alabama Ballet, 2726 1st Avenue South, 35233. For more information call 205-322-1874 or visit www.alabamaballet.org.

 

 

Basketball

Coach Paul Brown Camps. Learn from an outstanding teacher of fundamentals, June 19-23 Riverchase UMC, June 26-30 and July 31-August 4 Green Valley Baptist/Hoover and July 24-28 Trinity UMC/Homewood. Boys and girls ages 6-13. Full day 9am-4pm ($195), half day 9am-Noon ($125). Register at coachpaulbrown.com

Wrestling

Warrior Wrestling Club, Alabaster. Four weekly sessions for boys and girls, June 5-8 (6-12th grade), June 12-15(K-12th), June19-22 (6-12th), June 26-29(6-12th), 9am-8pm, $175 per week (includes breakfast, lunch and dinner), 2469 Highway 31, 35040, behind Southeastern Pond Management. Under the direction of Coach Shawn Weltzin, Coach of the Thompson High School 5X Alabama State Wrestling Champions along with Warrior Wrestling Club Head Coach Shad Rissler and All State Champ Counselors. Includes technique, drills and live wrestling. To register email shadrissler@gmail.com, visit www.warriowrestlingclub.com or call 845-978-4924.

Nature

Aldridge Gardens, Hoover. Weekly camps offered June 5 through June 30, Monday through Friday 9am-Noon for children entering 5K-3rd Grade. Themes include Construction in Nature, Engineering FUNdementals, Cool Art, Paper Circuitry and ever popular American Girl Doll camps. All the fun takes place at Aldridge Gardens, 3530 Lorna Road, 35216. $115 per camper for Aldridge Garden members, $135 for non-members. Visit aldridgegardens.com for more information and to register. E-mail Debbie McDonald, Education Director at dmcdonald@aldridgegardens.com or call 205-682-8019, ext. 104.

Overnight Camps

Deer Run Retreat, near Franklin, Tenn. June 4 to July 28 age-graded overnight weekly camp experiences for completed grades 3–12. Campers discover their strengths, explore exciting adventures, forge friendships and complete challenges. Registration includes all activities, a themed camp shirt and a video of your camper’s week. Passionate and engaged staff and counselors lead your child to authentically grow in faith, character, confidence, respect and leadership. The staff-to-camper ratio is higher than required standards allowing for closer supervision, deeper relationships with the counselors and other campers, plus a more powerful camper experience. One- and two-week sessions. Cabin activities include zip line adventures, 45-ft climbing tower, paintball, archery range, rec games, human foosball, 33-ft leap of faith, giant swing, archery tag, lake activities (waterslide, aqua park, swimming, round Corcl boats, kayaks, canoes, zip line), age-appropriate small group Bible study. Large group activities include games, challenging cardboard boat regatta races, worship and a dynamic, challenging speaker each night. Campers also choose 1 track for the week to develop abilities in specialized areas such as fishing, wilderness skills, self-defense, drama, percussion, ukulele and more. An Open house will be held at Deer Run on Sunday, May 7, 2-4pm. Includes come and go guided walking tour and opportunity to meet the camp directors and some of the summer staff. For pricing and registration visit www.DeerRun.camp or call 888-794-2918. †

Cheer

Impact Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders will host Cheer Camp July 17-21 at Shades Mountain Baptist, 2035 Columbiana Rd, 35216, 9am-3pm with after care provided til 5:30pm, Mon-Thurs. Ages 5-18. To register visit www.shades.org/cheercamp, call 370-3994, www.impactcheerleading.com.

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Are You Ready for Family Camp?

Are You Ready for Family Camp?

Ahhh…just thinking about summer vacation gets me excited about warmer weather, longer days, and meaningful family time together. The options of where to go and what to do are countless, and trying to please my crew had become more of a dreadful chore than an enthusiastic adventure…until a couple of years ago when we had the opportunity to experience family camp. Our days were preplanned, the variety of activities engaged each personality type, and everyone agreed it was our best vacation ever!

So what’s at the heart of choosing to spend time together in the woods at Deer Run Family Camp? In the words of my fifteen-year-old, she loves being removed from technology and enjoys “real time, not screen time.” My thirteen-year-old agrees wholeheartedly that communicating “with our mouths not our thumbs” is refreshing. There’s just something about being in nature…where the stillness draws you together and closer to Christ. This paradox is something many may not ever be exposed to in their chaotic, noisy lives. The scriptures remind us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know I am God.” Nothing is more powerful than being in nature together, to have purposeful quiet time and down time, to truly sense the presence of the Lord.

For many people, vacation is simply a break from the daily stress and overloaded schedules throughout the year. While this is great, wouldn’t it be better to come back rejuvenated with a stronger sense of direction and purpose than when you left? At Deer Run Family Camps, one of our biggest goals is for parents and children to grow spiritually as they recommit to what is most important in the overall picture of life.

Making memories are at the center of family camp. Whether it’s at the lake, on the zip line adventures, during outdoor movie night, on a hike, acting in a hilarious skit, or building a cardboard boat for the regatta — the possibilities are endless to create special moments together! Relationships are naturally strengthened as family members bond by participating in relaxation and recreational interests. Friendly (and sometimes fierce) competition allows for teamwork to emerge and for parents and siblings to see and appreciate different perspectives of each other.

Although stopping by the camp store to purchase memorabilia and apparel is always a favorite, families are sure to leave with unforgettable “souvenirs” that can’t be purchased — the priceless benefits of mom and dad reigniting their marriage, new and deeper friendships, a mindset to value people over things, and a sincere desire to cherish the gift of family.

We would love for you to join us this year for one of our two family camps at Deer Run — either July 2-8 for a 4th of July weeklong adventure or September 1-4 for Labor Day weekend. Visit DeerRun.camp/camps/family-camp for more info and to register your family or call 615-794-2918 if you have questions.

-Jada Daves, Family Camp Director, Deer Run Camps & Retreats

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Super Hero 5k with Hometown Lenders

Super Hero 5k with Hometown Lenders

“Super Hero 5K Run a Success!” 

The recent Super Hero 5K Run and Easter Egg Drop hosted by Hometown Lenders at Oak Mountain State Park resulted in raising enough money for several scholarships for children of our local police offers and participants had lots of fun!

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Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Music Notes

Van Sykes the 2nd generation owner and pit master of Bob Sykes Bbq Restaurant, says “We’re excited to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bob Sykes Bbq at our yearly Bbq & Blues Festival!”

Bob Sykes Bbq will celebrate its 60th Anniversary while hosting its 8th Annual Bob Sykes Bbq and Blues Festival on Saturday, May 20 from Noon-8pm. The event combines the music of award winning local and national blues musicians with great bbq at DeBardeleben Park in historic downtown Bessemer. The blues musicians set to perform include Chris Simmons, Albert White and the MusicMaker Revue, Eight O’Five Jive, Markey Blue, The Norman Jackson Band and Joe Louis Walker. There is something to do for the entire family including a large kids corner with activities and games, arts and crafts, outdoor exhibits, and legendary Bob Sykes Bbq.

A portion of the festival proceeds will benefit the Birmingham based non-profit, Ady’s Army (www.adysarmy.org) whose mission is “serving God by serving special needs families.” Money raised will be used to support programs like “Fins,” which teaches special needs children how to swim and “Paws,” which helps families secure service dogs for children with severe autism. “This is massive for us. We are thrilled and honored,” says Brian Shubert who founded Ady’s Army with his wife Chrissy. The organization is named after their daughter Ady, who has autism. “We are a literally a mom and pop non-profit. This is huge for us.” The organization’s goal is to “defeat the financial stress and loneliness caused by autism, providing resources one ‘piece’ and one family at a time.”

The festival will also be honoring National Armed Forces Day by offering Military Discounts to all active and retired military. Simply present your Military ID at the gate to receive $10 off your general admission ticket. General admission and VIP Tickets can also be purchased at www.bobsykesblues.com or at Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant. Children twelve and under are free with a ticketed adult. †

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