AVOCA - Sometimes, it takes fresh eyes to see the beauty in a situation. That’s certainly the case with Village of Avoca resident and trustee, Dawn Dahms. According to Dahms, the village is blessed with a beautiful park and campground on the banks of the Wisconsin River, a boat landing, and a sand beach for families to enjoy. Dahms appreciates what the village has to offer, and says “we need to do more to let the public know what we have here.”
“The age of the population in our beautiful village is getting older, and we need to do something to attract younger people and families,” Dahms explained. “One crucial thing that I saw was needed was to provide safe, free things for kids to do.”
For this reason, Dahms, herself a mother of young boys, decided to charge ahead and form the ‘Avoca Kids Club.’ The club meets weekly throughout the summer, and provides a variety of entertainment and enrichment experiences. Dahms said the number of participants has grown steadily as word has gotten out, and ranges from 23 to more than 100.
Dahms reports that this summer, the day of the Club will change to Mondays, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., starting on June 13. The Club will run from June 13 until school starts again in the Fall.
The featured entertainment at that meeting of the Kid’s Club will be ‘Jenna’s Reptiles.’ Children will be able to learn about reptiles, and have fun doing it. Other events coming up will be hiking, with kids receiving compasses, and a presenter talking about hiking and the natural world, and an oyster event where kids will be able to learn about oysters and experience the fun of seeing what color pearl they get when they open their oyster.
“We get kids not only from Avoca, Muscoda and Blue River, but also from surrounding communities like Highland,” Dahms said. “With every activity, we try to incorporate an act of kindness, so the kids learn that giving back to their community makes them feel good too.”
Dahms said that originally, she had paid the cost of food and other expenses for the Club, but now the Village Board is helping to fund some of the activities. Those activities have included bowling, roller skating, clowns and magic tricks, face painting, making animals out of balloons, cake decorating, flower arranging, and a holiday-themed, ‘Polar Express’ movie event, to name a few.
“I got a cake decorator from Hillsboro to come, and teach kids and even adults how to decorate a cake,” Dahms said. “That event attracted ‘kids of all ages,’ and we had 88 people participate.”
Another event involved floral artist Katie Bailey of Bailey’s Floral in Muscoda, who taught the kids how to make a floral arrangement, and create a bow. She said she had collected vases, so that everyone who participated got to take home their floral creation.
Dahms said that the act of kindness involved in that event, which also featured Udder Brothers ice cream, was for the participants to gift their floral arrangement to another resident.“Including an act of kindness in the event teaches kids how to help others,” Dahms said.
Another event, around the holidays, involved a showing of the movie ‘Polar Express.’
“We had huge, plywood cutouts of train engines, and gave the kids conductors hats and whistles,” Dahms said. “Each kid passed through the train to receive their ticket to the movie.”
As the act of kindness associated with that event, the children made 50 mini Christmas trees, cookies and cards, and those trees, cookies and cards were donated to residents of the Riverdale Nursing Home.
Another event brought local first responders to the park to talk to kids about what EMS and Fire Departments do for the community. Kids were able to explore the vehicles, try on gear, and imagine themselves volunteering to give back to their community.“The event was dedicated to the memory of local first responder Sunny Everson, and each kid received a $2 bill in his memory,” Dahms said. “They also received a beanie baby from the EMS.”
Also popular were the bowling and roller-skating activities. In those events, kids got to travel to Richland Center, bowl or skate and eat some food. At the skating event, each kid got to skate, and received a glow necklace, cotton candy, pizza and popcorn.
In addition to serving on the village board, volunteering with the Avoca-Muscoda-Blue River Lions Club, coordinating the kids club, and placing themed ‘Little Free Libraries’ around the village, Dahms also operates the ‘Avoca Guesthouse.
A brochure about the Guesthouse, an ‘Air Bed and Breakfast,’ describes it as “a cozy, clean and comfortable place to stay while on vacation.” It can be a jumping off point for an exciting adventure, or a quiet getaway from the stresses of everyday life.
The Guesthouse sleeps 5-6, with a queen bed, two twin beds and a sofa sleeper. It boasts a fully-equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, and a gathering area with a game nook. Guests can also enjoy movies on VCR, and a Roku for a phone hotspot.
Popular, family-friendly things to do in the area include canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, bicycling, road trips on UTVs and bikes, hiking, birding and sightseeing. Area attractions include Avoca Lake and Campground, Avoca Prairie State Natural Area, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, Governor Dodge and Tower Hill State Parks, Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area, American Players Theatre, House on the Rock, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, Eagle Cave – Wisconsin’s largest onyx cave, Frank’s Hill Effigy Mounds, and Spurgeon and Wild Hills Wineries, to name a few.To make reservations for the Guesthouse, call 262-939-4710, or find them on Facebook at TheAvocaGuesthouse. You can e-mail them at TheAvocaGuesthouse@gmail.com. Rates are $85 per day or $510 per week, with check-in at 2 p.m., and check out 11:30 a.m.