62 Days of Summer
When I was a kid, bowling was a sport I wished I was good at, mostly because I didn’t know any kid who was.
I had friends known for their mean arms on the softball diamond, but we went bowling so infrequently that nobody seemed to develop a decent technique. How, for instance, to follow through gracefully, with one leg trailing smoothly behind?
I might have logged a few more hours at the bowling alley if Kids Bowl Free had been around 15 years ago. This program is as generous as it sounds: All summer, kids get to bowl two free games every day at nearly 1,000 bowling alleys across America. Even the definition of “summer” is generous, as the majority of local bowling centers run their free bowling programs from May through mid-September.
Just last month, lifestyle expert Elizabeth Mayhew came on NBC’s “Today” to recommend Kids Bowl Free as one of her top three summer bargains for kids. According to Mayhew, more than 2 million
kids have taken part in the program since its inception.
In the Capital Region, bowling alleys offering this program include Boulevard Bowl and Sportsman’s Bowl in Schenectady, Del Lanes in Delmar, Tippy Bowl in Ballston Spa, Town ’n Country Lanes in Guilderland, Middleburgh Lanes in Middleburgh, Hoe Bowl in Catskill, the East Greenbush Bowling Center in East Greenbush, and Alpha Lanes and Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy.
Before showing up at any of these bowling alleys, however, parents need to register their kids at http://KidsBowlFree.com. That’s the only hoop you’ll have to jump through, though, before coupons for free games arrive by email.
Most bowling centers require children to rent (or bring their own) bowling shoes. Group trips such as birthday parties can’t use the coupons. And it’s up to each bowling alley to determine the maximum age a child qualifies to play for free. Most Capital Region bowling centers set the age limit at 15.
Since the idea behind the free bowling program is to encourage family activity, a drastically discounted package — the Family Pass — gives up to four adults the right to bowl two games per day all summer long. Passes start at $24.95.
Tom Walsh, owner of Uncle Sam Lanes, said he sees kids trickling in to play for free during “bowling alley weather” — when it’s rainy or oppressively hot. And he’s watched the number interested in bowling climb steadily over the five years he’s been participating in the program. Every summer, he gets to see these kids on the trajectory from shakiness to confidence.
Bowling is just the sport for kids, Walsh said, “because it’s a lifetime sport. It’s the only thing you can do for the rest of your life.”
Once your kids start goofing off at the bowling alley a few days a week, it won’t be long before their form is better than mine.
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Categories: Schenectady County