Black Hills Family 4

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2023 LET’S





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p. 10 ISSUE 4 2023
4 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM & IN-STORE & ONLINE 605.343.8722 • 329 Main Street, Rapid City and Kids ^ Newborn to 7Y. When you shop for Christmas - Buy Local! “You have the best brands here. It’s always super cute and I can trust the quality.” - Happy Mom • Baby Registry • Nursery • Baby Care • Car Seats & Strollers • Toys & Books • Top-Rated Brands
Kids All the essentials to welcome every milestone.
Baby Big


The baby of our family started kindergarten this morning and I’m both weepy and smiling as I write this. I have friends several steps ahead of me and felt deeply for them as they dropped their college students off at a dorm room, a mix of sad and sweet as they watch their kids take flight.

Maybe that’s the best analogy to run with as we kick off another school year – there’s space enough for both the joy we experience as our families grow, and the bittersweet reality of them spreading their wings.

Whatever stage you’re in with your family, the fall season ushers in the new – an adjusting of schedules, a change of weather, a shifting of sorts.

In this issue, we talk about navigating change and how to set your family up for success. We touch on the importance of sleep and healthy snacks to keep your family moving. We visit with local teachers about signs of struggle, the importance of routine and how to get extra help.

We also look ahead to the many celebrations to come this year. We do a deep dive into birthday party planning to help you stay organized, local and not break the bank.

Whatever space you’re in this fall –we hope you find pockets of fun in these pages, ideas to help draw your family together, whether it’s a hayride out at Dry Creek Farms or a drive through Spearfish Canyon. Consider this your deep-breath moment before the holidays begin. Enjoy.


Maybe that’s the best analogy to run with as we kick off another school year – there’s space enough for both the joy we experience as our families grow, and the bittersweet reality of them spreading their wings.

For the first time ever, this edition of Black Hills Family features two covers. The content is identical in both versions, but like your next party, adding a little variety in the mix can be a lot fun.

The Ideal Party Guest

Our guide on how to be a benevolent birthday party guest.


10 Life Of The Party

Jack Wellmen, owner and operator of Dakota Party, tells us his story.

14 Cake It Until You Make It

Some Black Hills bakers offer up some tips and tricks on making your next cake shine.

18 A Reason To Celebrate

Meet Brandon Rufledt, an inspirational young man.

26 Fantastic Gifts And Where To Find Them

Where to shop local for your next party gift.

20 Unexpected Birthday Venues

Paintball, pottery and pinball. Check out some of our favorite b-day venues throughout the Hills.


As families get back into the swing of things, keeping a consistent sleep schedule is paramount.

34 Learn, Explore, Relax

Dry Creek Farms is a local autumn experience that is teaching families about the roots of agriculture.

38 The Weekend

The school year means life schedules, schedules, schedules. Make sure to plan some time to recharge as a family, too.

43 School Calendar

All the important dates from schools around the Black Hills.

46 Snack Time

A couple of our favorite ways to refuel after school.

32 A Smooth School Year

We asked a couple of veteran school teachers their tips on fostering a great school year.

Publisher Rick DenHerder

Creative Director

John Edwards

Senior Content Editor

Stephen Simpson

Senior Designer

Erika Young Editor

Kayla Gahagan

Photographer Laurel Danley

Communications Manager

Dolsee Davenport


Birthday parties, Halloween parties — even Thanksgiving and Christmas — all have their own special treats around their celebrations. We all get to enjoy cake, pies, cookies and more during these festivities. Why should the furriest members of your family be left out of these scrumptious party treats?

Of course, dogs have different digestive systems than their human friends, so a slice of cake or a sip of punch is out of the question. So what can Fido sink his teeth into while the rest of us munch on sweets?

The canine nutrition experts at Healthy Paws have a few suggestions to make sure your pooch doesn’t feel left out whenever there’s a party. First, consider Unhide from Himalayan Pet Supply®. This innovative antler and cheese rawhide alternative is easy for dogs to digest and provides hours of chewing fun. Another chew that will have your dog drooling is Earth Animal No-Hide® Chews. These hide-less chews contain an all-natural extract from pineapples, bromelain, that aids in canine digestion.

There’s even more excellent options to treat your pup at Healthy Paws. Your dog will love these high quality treats because they’re tasty; you’ll feel good about giving them to your dog because you know that the wholesome ingredients of any treat from Healthy Paws is selected for optimal canine health.

Don’t be a party-pooper and leave your pooch out — make sure to pick up a few treats for them to enjoy, too — from Healthy Paws.

6 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM Do You Have Concerns With How Your Child Plays With Toys? • Have di culty playing with others? • Do they frequently break toys? • Lack coordination to play the way many children do? • Seem to have a very limited or repetitive way of playing? Our Pediatric Experts Can Help! To Schedule an Appointment or to Learn More Call 605.791.7400 SPONSORED CONTENT DON’T LEAVE YOUR PUP OUT OF
Bentley Lane, Rapid City, SD 57701
7 COMMUNITY (605) 341-7206 Family Child Care Nutrition Program YFS is an equal opportunity provider. Join YFS' Family Child Care Nutrition Program to get financial reimbursements for serving nutritious meals and snacks to children, ages 12 and younger. Any registered family or licensed group family child care providers can participate at no cost! Attention Family Child Care Providers! Did you know you could be reimbursed for serving healthy meals and snacks? SCAN TO LEARN MORE! SAVE $100 $20 off each of your first 5 cleanings when you mention this ad. Constantly on the go? Not sure where to begin? Whether you’re a long-time fan of cleaning schedules or just looking to get more organized this year, here are 5 quick tips to help you stay on track with your cleaning goals. Upgrade Your Cleaning Routine | 605-718-9064 1141 Deadwood Ave., Suite 4 Rapid City, SD 57702 Professional • Bonded/Insured • Guaranteed Quality New customers only. Not valid with other offers. Valid only at this location. Cash value of 1/1000 of 1 cent. © 2020 Merry Maids L.P. 1. Start Small. Master a single daily cleaning habit. From there, you can slowly introduce more and more tasks. 2. Create A Schedule. Try creating themed cleaning days. Monday can be laundry, Tuesdays can be the kitchen, etc. 3. Make A Checklist. Take a walk around your house and list every area that needs to be cleaned.
Get Creative. Create a cute DIY cork board and tack up notes about your daily and weekly tasks or a chore wheel.
Get Everyone Involved. As the old saying goes, two heads are better than one! Enlist your spouse and kids.
8 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM Specialized Dog & Cat Food Raw Gently Cooked Freeze Dried High Quality Kibble 425 Bentley Lane Rapid City, SD 605-791-4141 Year-Round Party Store Supplies for E V E R Y Occasion & Celebration! Birthdays • Seasonal & Themed Items AND MUCH MORE! • 605-342-5204 RUSHMORE CROSSING, 1165 EGLIN ST., SUITE 100, RAPID CITY Read More on Page 10

BLACK HILLS Birthday Club

Birthday Club


Free Birthday Fun!


When it’s your child’s birthday month, he or she could be randomly selected to win a BIRTHDAY BASKET FULL OF GOODIES from some of our favorite local businesses.

Story: Stephen Simpson Photos: Laurel Danley

When you walk into Dakota Party, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the rows of bright mylar balloons hanging over the front counter. Dozens of these balloons that feature famous cartoon characters, numbers, shapes and more wow customers as they enter. Below that expanse of balloons, you’ll be welcomed by the friendly Dakota Party team, donned in blue aprons and ready to offer some of the warmest customer service in the Black Hills.

Dakota Party’s selection is unmatched anywhere in the region, and the party inspiration that can come by just walking through the aisles at this Rapid City shop is hard to find anywhere else.

Deep roots

Jack Wellman owns and operates Dakota Party. He and this local party supply store both have deep roots in the community. “My parents opened the store in October of ‘89,” Jack recounts. “I worked here through high school.” This longtime party store, formerly a Paper Warehouse franchise and briefly a Party City franchise, started on the west side of Rapid City. Since 2009, Dakota Party has been independent, and a recent

How to get the most out of your balloons

The biggest seller at Dakota Party is their balloons. With their enormous selection, the creativity of your next balloon display is only limited by your imagination. Jack recommends starting with the size of the space that you’ll be decorating in mind when it comes to choosing the balloons for your next party — remember,

move to Rushmore Crossing creates even more convenience for an already excellent shopping experience.

Party experience

With an extensive selection of party supplies, seasonal decor, balloons and much more, Dakota Party is the region's go-to choice for parties. Jack explains that the Dakota Party experience goes beyond just the wide selection. It comes from a heart of service that he passes on to his employees. “The employees do their best to care for our customers. We treat the customers the way we want to be treated,” he says.

Jack’s proud of the team that he's assembled throughout the years. “A lot of my staff has been here a long time,” he says. Some of his staff have been with Dakota Party for 10 years or longer. Jack reports that even some of his part time employees have been a part of the team for a year or longer.

This rare combination of extensive selection, party-inspiration and topnotch customer service is what makes Dakota Party an unique experience when shopping for your next party. So, whether you’re looking to deck out a last-minute birthday party, are shopping for the perfect Halloween costume, are there to give your Christmas party that extra touch of charm, Dakota Party is your friendly, local source for party supplies.

Include the kids Jack says that when you’re planning the decorations for your next party, don’t forget to include the kids in the process. And don’t put too much pressure on yourself by trying to create the “perfect” looking party. Rather, aim to please the kids. “The kids will have fun no matter what you choose for decorations,” Jack says.

Helium balloons typically look better the fresher they are. If possible, Jack recommends having your balloons filled the same day that you’re using them.


Kid birthday parties are a fascinating element of life to navigate — for both children and adults. Planning and hosting a party is one thing, but what do you need to know as a guest?


Don’ts Not communicate

Double negative. Sorry. But the point is to find out what you need to know. Is this a drop-and-go situation, or are you expected to stay? Is your kid getting fed? Is there a snack? Any special instructions you need to know about? A good invite should let you know all the details, but sometimes you might have a few questions. It’s always better to find out than not. So, call or text that parent and get the scoop.

Don’t bring uninvited guests

That includes siblings. Despite hurt feelings or an inconvenience to your schedule, siblings shouldn’t tag along unless they’re expressly invited. Unexpected guests might cost the hosts, it might throw off some of the planned events. You could always call ahead and ask if it would be alright to bring along a sibling if you know the hosts well. But if you don’t know the host very well, this might be overstepping.

Don’t overstay your welcome

This goes for your kid and you. Most invites include an endtime — for a reason. It could be because the host family has other activities planned that same day. It could be because 2 hours is a good length of time for a kids’ birthday party — just saying. Pick up your kid on time. Leave on time.

And don’t do it the night before. This gives the hosts ample time to plan, gather supplies and mentally prepare — there’s a big difference, mentally, between a party of two 7-yearolds versus seven 2-year-olds.

Help where you can

If you notice paper cups that need to be picked up and thrown away, do it. If there’s a bucket of Legos that got dumped, scoop them up. If slices of cake need to be distributed, lend a hand. Be helpful.

Help your kid (and yourself) to remember to say thank you

Say thank you to the host. Set the example, and if your little pookie forgets, remind him or her to say thank you.

Parting thoughts

If you’re the host, have grace with your guests. If someone commits an offense, don’t be too upset. You never know what’s been going on with your party guests — they’re just people, after all. The chatty dad who stayed for an extra 15 minutes might be lonely, and he’s looking for friends. The sibling’s bowling shoes that you paid for might just be an act of kindness that sticks with that little girl for the rest of her life. The mom who didn’t RSVP for her son might be hanging on by a thread, and you graciously accepting her un-rsvp’d kid is introducing just a tiny bit of peace into her life. Your capacity to make someone’s life easier is larger than you think — so be a considerate guest and an accommodating host. You’re making the world a little bit brighter that way.

Story: Stephen Simpson

On getting trapped

If it’s not a drop-and-go-situation, you’ll be stuck for a couple of hours at a pool or someone’s house or the park. That’s fine if you know someone there. Grab a Kool-Aid Jammer and post up with your pal. But what if you’re getting dropped into a scenario where you don’t know anybody? That could change the equation.

There’s some of you who would be stoked for this. Not me. I recently went to a birthday party for one of my son’s friends where the parents were expected to hang around, and I didn’t know anyone. That kind of freaked me out.

But I decided I wasn’t going to be miserable. I’ve been to plenty of social functions where I didn’t know anybody, and I made myself sparse. That’s not any fun. So I decided this time I wouldn’t do that. Instead, I put myself out there, met a few people, made some jokes. And you know what? I think I had a little fun, and I think I might have helped some other parents feel a little bit more comfortable. The good parts of life are on the edge of your comfort zone. Go get it, champ.



Local bakers create desserts to delight. Four of these pastry professionals told us their stories and offered some of their tips to help you with your next cake creation.

Brown’s Sugar and Crumbs Bakery

Cake decoration is a form of art, says Kezli Brown, owner of Brown’s Sugar and Crumbs Bakery in Box Elder. “Bringing a design to life provides me with a creative outlet to showcase my talent and imagination. Started two years ago, Browns specializes in custom dessert tables, from the baking of desserts to coordinating the decor, invitations, and custom favors. “I not only create delicious treats but also take care of the entire event's aesthetics. This approach allows me to provide a truly personalized and immersive experience for my clients.”

We asked Brown about the latest trends in birthday cakes and here’s what she said:

1) Minimalism and Elegance: Many people are opting for simple and elegant birthday cake designs with clean lines, muted colors, and minimalist decorations. Less can be more, and a sleek, sophisticated look is in demand.

2) Naked Cakes: Naked cakes remain a favorite, featuring layers of cake with little to no frosting on the sides, allowing the cake layers and fillings to shine through. They often incorporate fresh fruit and floral decorations.

3) Customized Cake Toppers: Personalized cake toppers featuring names, ages, or special messages are a great way to add a unique touch to birthday cakes. I specialize in creating customized toppers and decor to make each cake truly one-of-a-kind.

4) Party Packages: People love the idea of a one-stop shop. Whether you're planning a birthday party, a wedding, a corporate event, or any other celebration, one-stop shops are becoming increasingly popular for several compelling reasons.

Tesa Bakes Bakery

It started with a hobby and turned into more. Tesa Bryant knew she loved baking and it made sense to do more of it once she realized the people around her saw a gift. Bryant started Tesa Bakes Bakery, a homebased business, two years ago and she now specializes in birthday cakes and baked goods for holidays and birthday parties. Carrot cake is a client favorite, and toying with the recipe and look of homemade fondant is one of hers. A cake is often the centerpiece of a birthday celebration and Tesa said she likes the idea of bringing joy to the person being celebrated and those surrounding them.

“I love that I get to be part of someone’s special day.”

Hanna’s Twist Bakery

After Hanna Garcia retired from a law enforcement career a year ago, she turned to an old love – baking. And that’s exactly how Hanna’s Twist Bakery in Spearfish got its start. Hanna specializes in sourdough bread and cakes/cupcakes and is branching out into more diverse flavors and styles, including Angel food cake, mandarin cake and curd fillings.

Hanna, who is a mom of two, experiments, to the joy of her family.

“I love seeing my kids’ reaction to the cakes,” she said. “My kids are always telling me what they want me to make next; someday I’ll catch up with their imaginations.”

Her other favorite aspect of running a bakery? When a client comes back with a sweet report.

“I love hearing that,” she said. “I like making other people happy with my baking.”


PattiGrace Bakes is owned by Patti Anderson. As you plan your next bake, consider these tips from Patti:

1) Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavor and texture. Think outside the box.

2) My “secret” ingredient for a moist cake is sour cream.

3) I use coconut oil instead of vegetable or canola. It gives cakes a better taste and eliminates the inflammatory oils.

4) I freeze cakes overnight before frosting and decorating. A partially thawed cake is so much easier to frost and decorate and it helps with moistness.

5) The judge of a great cake is the customer. Listening to my customer about flavor, fillings, color, décor. It’s not a great cake unless the customer is happy.

Photo by Brown’s Cakes Photos by PattiGrace Bakes

Pizza Ranch, with two locations in Rapid City, is the home of everyone’s favorite buffet. Whether you’re trying to feed the ball team, the family, birthday party guests or more, everyone is able to craft their perfect meal at Pizza Ranch.



The mission of Pizza Ranch is to provide every guest a legendary experience. And the two Pizza Ranch locations in Rapid City are doing just that. Just step into one of these two locations and see for yourself.

The food at these family-friendly restaurants certainly plays a part in creating these excellent experiences — juicy fried chicken, unique pizzas, tasty salads, delicious desserts and much more are all served buffet-style, so everyone in the family can craft their own perfect meal. But it’s not just the mouthwatering food that has families clamoring to Pizza Ranch. We’re

how the whole family can enjoy lunch or dinner — and how the newest addition to Rapid City’s Pizza Ranch on Stumer Road just might be the perfect fit for your next birthday bash.

Pizza favorites

Co-owners of the Rapid City locations of Pizza Ranch, Steve Cronin and Terry Larsen, like a lot of people in the area, are fans of the impressive selection and creativity of the pizzas available at Pizza Ranch. Terry’s favorite is a Taco Pizza on original crust. Steve’s pizza of choice is the Bronco with jalapenos on a thin crust.

going to introduce you to a few more ways that Pizza Ranch is serving up legendary experiences and why the Stumer Road location is your ticket to a fun-filled and stress-free birthday party or other celebration.

A legendary arcade experience

The Pizza Ranch at the Rapid City Stumer Road location recently expanded by adding nearly 2,500 square feet of arcade space called the FunZone. This space features over 35 of the latest and most hightech arcade and video games and a chance for kids — and the young at heart — to win big by trading their tickets in at the massive Redemption Wall. And just like the expansive buffet, the game selection at the FunZone has something for everyone — from classics like skee ball to new favorites like Fantastic Prize, even VR games that transport players to intense experiences like riding roller coasters or driving race cars.

The state-of-the-art features of the FunZone don’t stop at the games. Each of the six party rooms available to reserve at the Stumer location have TV screens that allow adults to keep an eye on the kids while they’re in the FunZone. So, sit back, enjoy that second helping of The Country’s Best Chicken and keep an eye on the kids while they’re having a blast in the FunZone Arcade.

Party packages

Whether your birthday party or other gathering is just a few people or a group of up to 78, the Pizza Ranch on Stumer Road in Rapid City has a party room (or rooms) that can suit your needs.

Party packages are available for purchase that include food and fun. Each kid will get a card with credits to play the arcade games, and party packages come with the legendary buffet, decorations and party

It runs in the family Terry and Steve launched their first Pizza Ranch in Rapid City over a decade ago, but the two partners’ experience with Pizza Ranch goes back even further. Terry’s parents opened the Pizza Ranch in Fort Pierre, and Terry and Steve both started working there as teenagers in the 1990s.

gift bags. With different options and even an option to customize your package, parents are sure to find their most headache-free birthday party yet at Pizza Ranch.

A focus on community

The legendary experiences of Pizza Ranch go beyond the walls of the two locations. Pizza Ranch believes in investing in the community that they call home. There’s a lot of ways that Pizza Ranches throughout the country invest in their communities; one of those ways is their Community Impact Fundraiser Nights, where organizations get a portion of sales and help clear tables and serve guests a legendary experience. Steve and Terry are proud of the over $500,000 they have been able to give back to the community!

Visit or call 605-791-5255 to let the party experts start planning your perfect, stress-free birthday party.


Meet Brandon Rufledt. Despite the health challenges this

When a family is faced with childhood illness and disease, inspiration becomes indispensable. Many times, that inspiration can be found in similar stories of struggle and triumph. Monument Health’s Little Black Hills Battles exists to recognize those brave fights in our community. By highlighting these stories, families facing health fights can find inspiration and hope. Brandon Rufledt is one of these inspirational fighters.

Pinpointing what’s wrong

“He was really sick when he was a baby. Runny noses, coughing, ear infections galore,” recounts Brandon’s mom, Jodi Rufledt. “They thought maybe it was asthma. Then they thought maybe it was reflux, and it wasn't. And so then they tested his blood and found out that he doesn't produce any antibodies — that he doesn’t have an immune system.”

Doctors diagnosed Brandon with X-Linked Agammaglobulinemia (XLA), a rare condition of the immune system. Individuals with XLA face serious complications from everyday illnesses like colds. There is no known cure, but with careful and consistent treatment, people with this disorder can manage their symptoms. Brandon and his family have been working with caregivers at Monument Health since his diagnosis to do just that. And Brandon’s fight has resulted in an incredible life for this young man who just started his senior year of high school this fall.

No gutterballs here

Sports have been a consistent part of Brandon’s life since he could remember. “I'm just a big sports guy,” he says. “Any sport, I pretty much will either watch or play.”

But for Brandon, one sport has his focus currently: bowling. Brandon recently bowled a 300 at a city tournament this year (that’s a perfect score). That accomplishment and many others qualified him to compete in the United States Bowling Congress’ Junior Gold tournament in Indianapolis this last summer. This is a remarkable accomplishment for a remarkable young man.

Navigating his XLA diagnosis has been a journey for Brandon. There’s been challenges and triumphs, and his story is one that should serve as inspiration for families who are facing similar situations — celebrate the good things in life and look for the good people all around who are ready to help. One place that Brandon and his family found those good people is Monument Health.

Finding the good

Brandon has been receiving monthly infusions to manage his XLA at Monument Health since he was 10 months old. These infusion sessions seem like they might be an interruption to this busy young man, but Brandon doesn’t complain; he’s grateful for the high quality of care that he receives. “They've always treated me and my family good,” Brandon says.

Some of the caregivers have had the pleasure of watching Brandon grow up. “There's a few who have been there the whole time and they really got to know me and I've got to know them,” Brandon says. “I've never really hated going because they’ve always made it pretty easy.”

The nurses have even worked with Brandon to incorporate him into his infusions. “One of the nurses taught him how to put on his blood pressure cuff and the pulse ox and get things hooked up and always had them ready for us,” Jodie explains. “They've been really good to us up there at Monument.”

incredible young man has faced, he finds reasons to celebrate — including his latest bowling victory.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect birthday venue, the Black Hills region is stocked with options perfect for the artsy, indoor and creative, or the adventure-seeker, outdoor enthusiast – and everyone in between. Check out these options:



Location, location, location: finding the perfect venue for the birthday party


Sprockets Fun Foundry

If you’re looking for some modern arcade action for a birthday adventure this year, a trip to Sprockets Fun Foundry in Keystone might fit the bill.

The Sprockets location is the former Holy Terror Building, located at 221 Swanzey Street, and designed to resemble an old mine. The site is packed with artifacts from Homestake Gold Mine and adorned with old barn wood and rusty metal.

The historic feel is paired with modern technology – a cuttingedge arcade with more than 50 games, virtual reality stations with headsets, moving platforms, heat and wind. Sprockets also hosts laser tag rooms and duckpin bowling.

The venue offers multiple birthday packages and allows participants to bring in their own cake and cupcakes.

To get more info on party packages, visit or call 605-666-4242.

Watiki Indoor Waterpark Resort

If you’re looking for a water-based, high-energy, thekids-will-sleep-well-tonight birthday bash – check out WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort .

Located at 1314 N Elk Vale Road, WaTiki offers multiple birthday packages that can include arcade cards, spectator passes, pizza, decorations and a celebration with WaTiki’s official lifeguard mascot Koko.

Booking a party also ensures you get a prime spot at one of the waterpark’s guest tables, which will already be decorated for the party by staff (one less thing to worry about) so you can simply play and eat.

The resort complex is also home to five hotels and several restaurants, so if you’re game for a slumber party, overnight options are possible.

For more information or to schedule a party, call 605718-244.


Elks Theatre

Did you know that you can host birthday parties at the historic Elk Theatre in Downtown Rapid City? In fact, you’re able to rent an entire theater on Saturday or Sunday mornings. The rental fee even comes with snack packs for the kids.

And with the best popcorn in town, this private movie theater experience couldn’t get much better. The upstairs theater that is available to rent has plenty of space to stretch out and party — screen a movie, open presents, make some unforgettable memories.

For more information or to book a theater, visit or call 605-343-7888.

Old MacDonald’s Farm

There’s few things that are more energizing or refreshing for kids than a day on the farm. So, why not consider hosting your next birthday party at Old MacDonald’s Farm? With a convenient location just a few miles south of Rapid City, this incredible petting farm features over 100 friendly animals that kids can interact with. There’s a whole farmyard of activities, too, that is sure to bring a smile to the face of kids.

“We do group rates for birthday parties,” said Thane Rose, owner of Old MacDonald’s. “We also have a bouncy house that is available to rent.” Birthday party goers are also able to use the pavilion located near the playground to eat and celebrate. “You can bring in as much food and drinks as you want,” Thane said.

The best way to start planning your Old MacDonald Birthday is to call 605-737-4815.

Photo by Travel South Dakota

Black Hills Paintball

If you need an adrenaline rush, Black Hills Paintball is the perfect place to celebrate growing older.

“The more people you have, the more fun,” according to owner Steve Bolton.

Participants hide, dodge and shoot paintball guns, airsoft guns and gel blasters on four different fields across a 20-acre plot of land.

“And parents are welcome to join the party; sometimes it’s therapeutic to go against your kids,” he joked. “The family feuds we’ve had out here have been so fun.”

The business, which is located in Meade County, has been open for 13 years. Families are welcome to bring food, drinks and cake for a birthday party and utilize a shaded picnic area.

“We just love seeing the smiles and hearing the laughs,” Bolton said. “People having a good time is my main goal.”

To check out pricing and packages, visit or call 605-484-0777.

Prouty Pottery

If you’re looking for an experience, and a take-home memory, Prouty Pottery is a great destination for a birthday celebration.

Located at 405 Canal Street in Rapid City, Prouty is a paint-your-own-pottery studio, and hosts birthday parties for all ages. The studio allows participants to provide their own snacks, cake and food.

“We’ve had one-year-old birthday parties and we’ve had folks come celebrate a 70th or 80th birthday,” said Bobbie Battest, manager. “We want families to come in and enjoy.”

Battest said owners Joe and Hester Prouty have a heart for making Prouty a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.

“We’ve had 20-30 kids in here at a time, and we love it,” she said.

Prouty offers birthday group rates. For more information or to reserve, call 605718-2929 or visit


Pizza Ranch — Rapid City Stumer Road location

The newly updated and expanded FunZone Arcade at Pizza Ranch’s Stumer Road location is the perfect place for your next birthday party. Co-owner Steve Larsen said, “The arcade appeals to our core audience — which is the youngest to the oldest.” The arcade features the most cutting edge games and a great selection of classics. So whether you’re a Skee ball champ or want to experience virtual reality for the first time, the FunZone arcade is your ticket to a party that kids (and adults) won’t stop raving about.

Pizza Ranch and the new FunZone arcade might also be the most stress-free birthday party you’ve ever planned, too. Party packages are available and packages can even be customized. Each kid will get a card with credits to play the arcade games, and party packages come with the legendary buffet, decorations and party gift bags.

Visit or call 605-791-5255 to start planning your Pizza Ranch and FunZone birthday party today.

Reptile Gardens

It’s not a very well-known venue for birthday parties, but the world’s largest reptile zoo, Reptile Gardens, does have a space that is available to rent for birthday parties. The rental even comes with a member of the Reptile Gardens staff stopping by the party with a special animal guest. The birthday kid also gets a Reptile Gardens tshirt.

This is a great venue for any animal-loving birthday kid. Enjoy the sights and sounds of some of the most interesting and unique creatures in the world as you stroll the grounds of Reptile Gardens — it’s a blast for everyone there. And with a convenient location just outside of Rapid City, this venue is sure to please.

To discover more, please visit or call 605-342-5873.

Photo by Travel South Dakota
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Stand out from the crowd and shop the unique selections at these locally owned Black Hills shops.

Shopping locally for birthdays — and any occasion — is a bright idea. More money stays in your community, local owners tend to invest more in their hometowns than outof-state owners and local shops typically foster a friendlier atmosphere. Not to mention that neighborhood stores frequently stock unique products that you’d be hardpressed to find anywhere else. According to a study by the Institute for Self-Reliance, local businesses are typically more charitable than larger corporations — for every $ 1 million in revenue, local businesses typically donate around $4,000 to charity, whereas large corporations

contribute about a quarter of that amount. A community full of thriving local businesses can also potentially increase real estate values, according to Forbes. Do you need any more reasons to shop local? Or are you convinced? Good. No matter where in the Black Hills you are, there are local shopping opportunities offering unique experiences and some one-of-a-kind gifts. So whether you’re looking for a birthday present in Sturgis or a baby shower gift in Rapid, the shops and boutiques of the Black Hills have gifts that are going to make everyone ask, “Where did you get that?”


Kicks & Giggles

Discover a delightful baby and kids’ boutique at 329 Main Street in Rapid City, where you’ll encounter a carefully curated array of the latest clothing styles, charming gifts, functional diaper bags, top-tier strollers, and premium car seats. Whether you’re shopping for your little one’s needs or hunting for the perfect gift, this boutique has you covered.

What truly distinguishes Kicks and Giggles is not just their remarkable inventory but also the warm and inviting ambiance they provide. Their dedicated staff goes above and beyond to ensure exceptional customer service, making your shopping experience an absolute joy.

By choosing Kicks and Giggles, you’re not only investing in quality products but also supporting local businesses. Explore their unique treasures and experience top-notch service that will leave you thoroughly impressed. Embrace the pride of shopping locally at this exceptional small business.

Who’s Toy House

Mitzi’s Books

Looking for a gift for the bibliophiles in your life? Mitzi’s Books in Main Street Square in Downtown Rapid City is your place. This local bookshop features an extensive collection of books and even has a selection of unique gifts that are sure to bring a smile to the face of whoever you’re surprising.

Located in Main Street Square in Downtown Rapid City, this local toy store features some of the most unique kids’ products in the region. Whether you’re hunting for the perfect plush, LEGO set, outdoor toy, board game or much, much more, Who’s is your place. Browse the toys. Pick them up. Feel the quality. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and is able to answer any questions you may have.

Kids are sure to find birthday inspiration when they walk through Who’s. Little ones are even able to put together a birthday basket here — a sort of gift registry for kids. Ask an employee for more details, but the basic idea is kids are able to place the toys that strike their fancy in a basket. That basket is then put on a shelf where parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or friends are able to return later and purchase that exact toy. Oh yeah, free gift wrap, too.


With locations in both Deadwood and in the Uptown Mall in Rapid City, the shopping selection featured at both Happy Days locations are sure to get you feeling nostalgic and inspired. Whether you’re looking for a puzzle, game or a gift featuring an old favorite, Happy Days is your place.

Lucy and the Green Wolf

Lucy and the Green Wolf is a shop located in downtown Hot Springs that focuses on gifts and other products that are eco-friendly and sustainable. The selection at this shop ranges from beauty products, decor,

Black Hills Rally & Gold

Don’t let the name fool you. This shop located in downtown Sturgis has a long history related to the Rally, but for the other 350-ish days of the year, this hometown mercantile serves locals by providing a great selection of gifts for all ages coupled with a downhome shopping experience. If you’ve never browsed the offerings at Sturgis Rally & Gold, you might be surprised at what you may find. For the outdoor enthusiasts, pick up a Kavu bag or a Rumpl blanket. For the mom on the go, consider gifting her the ultimate way to tote everyone’s things around: the Bogg Bag. Maybe an amazing new piece of clothing? Maybe something bright and neon from Schylling for the kids? How about something to bounce on for the little ones? Support local, and make a stop at Black Hills Rally & Gold for your next birthday, baby shower or whatever gift.

Who’s Hobby House

This is your destination for all the hobbyists in your life. Do you have a little rocket scientist in your house? How about a model train fanatic? From board games to model rockets, figurines to radio control and more, this local shop has been serving the Rapid City area for more than 70 years.



We asked the expert – how do you secure quality sleep for school success?

If there’s one habit that touches every aspect of your life, including the way you learn and how you regulate your emotions, it’s sleep.

“People take it for granted,” said Connie Tschetter, an advanced practice provider at the Monument Health Sleep Center. “Sleep and mental health go hand in hand.”

As families settle into fall routines, the amount of sleep both adults and children get at night is crucial. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep. The amount for a child varies, depending on age (see chart opposite.)

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study found that most American children and teenagers don’t sleep enough. Nearly

6 in 10 middle schoolers and at least 7 in 10 high schoolers don’t sleep enough on school nights. Of the high school students surveyed, almost two-thirds sleep less than eight hours nightly.

Winding down at the end of the day with a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to ensure the best sleep for the right number of hours. That routine could include taking a warm bath or shower, brushing teeth, cuddling with a parent, singing lullabies, reading or journaling and quiet time.

Multiple studies have shown that quality of sleep can get derailed by exposure to blue light close to bedtime. Some experts say blue light, or screen time, can suppress melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time to sleep.

Tschetter has worked in sleep medicine since 2017. The Sleep Center is a 10-patient sleep lab for patients struggling with symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, poor energy and other symptoms. Patients are tested for sleep apnea and diagnostic testing for narcolepsy. She said good sleep can help fight chronic illness, improve mood and help brain functionall key components to school success.

“People think they are good to go if they eat well and exercise but if they’re not getting good sleep, it’s hard to keep that up,” Tschetter said.

Sleep wisdom for families:

• Have a routine and stick with it.

• No electronics an hour before bed.

• Limit caffeine, alcohol and sugar.

• Exercise for ten minutes.

• Keep room dark.

• Keep temperature between 60-67 degrees.

Connie Tschetter, an advanced practice provider at the Monument Health Sleep Center


Hours of sleep

Older adult >65 yrs 7-8hrs

Adult 18-64 yrs 7-9 hrs

Teenager 14-17 yrs 8-10 hrs

School age 6-13 yrs 9-11 hrs

Preschool 3-5 yrs 10-13 hrs

Toddler 1-2 yrs 11-14 hrs

Infant 4-12 mths 12-15 hrs





How can families start the year strong and stay that way?

Sara: Be honest with your students about their academics. Encourage them they are capable of anything, but they may struggle. Struggle is a good thing.

Teach kids to communicate and advocate for themselves. If they need help or have a problem, have them speak to a teacher or administrator. They need to learn how to communicate, but they can only do that if we let them. Allow natural consequences to happen. We can’t rescue them from their poor choices.

we asked two veteran teachers to give us their wisdom on how to start strong, be aware of signs of struggle and keep moving forward:
Sara Culver, New Underwood School District K12 Music, Band, Choir 20 years of education

Children always need more sleep, and good breakfasts and healthy lunches.

Marti: If at all possible, they need to be read to and to read EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even when reading independently, they should read aloud to parents to build vocabulary and fluency and spark some wonderful conversations. They need play dates of every variety: schoolmates, cousins, neighbors, grandparents. Help them stay away from screens and get outside with others to imagine, talk, play, and laugh.

What can parents do to uncover issues early on?

Sara: Ask direct questions. If they are struggling to answer, you might want to reach out to their teacher. Kids will hide things from you if you let them give “pat” answers. I always ask my kids for a deeper answer. If something seems off, trust yourself. It never hurts to investigate, but it could be worse if you wait.

Marti: Go over checked papers together with your child. Have them explain what they did on the papers. Ask who they play with at recess and who they sit by at lunch. You can learn so much about how they are doing academically and socially with this three-minute conversation.

What is the most common struggle that you see at the start of the year?

Sara: Social and emotional struggles really play with each other. Students at a new school probably deal with that more than returning students. It’s more prominent during transitions. There is always a fear of the unknown. Communication with parents is a huge part of student success. Hard conversations are necessary. We’ve lost the feeling of parents and teachers being on the same team. Remember, we’re are all doing our best to help these students grow and learn.

Marti: For children and adults, putting academic and social and emotional factors together is exhausting. Everyone needs more sleep - even mom and dad! We also need laughter. A wise teacher once said to a parent, "Don't believe everything your child says about what goes on at school, and I won't believe everything your child says about what goes on at home." A quick email can often clear things up. Parents are sending their precious loved ones to teachers who chose to be teachers because they love kids, too. Working together, giving grace, and entering the school year with happy anticipation can't be a bad way to start.

A strong start to the school year can also include an eye check – making sure your child can do simple things like read the board, as well as the book in their hands.

About 7 percent of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Additionally, it’s estimated that nearly 1 in 4 have an undiagnosed vision problem. About 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.

We asked Precision Eyecare optometrist Eric Porisch, OD for advice:

What can parents look for as their children go back to school that might be signs of struggle?

• Squinting at a distance

• Eyes crossing

• Covering one eye

• Fatigue sooner than expected while reading

• Headache complaints

What can teachers watch for in the classroom?

• Following words with a finger through books

• Squinting at the board

• Asking to move closer to see

Action steps: Ask your kiddo questions about what they are experiencing and schedule an appointment to see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a more thorough examination.




If the fall looks like a locked-in schedule of sports, school and activities, weekends are a great time to carve out intentional family time. The Spearfish Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze (10771 Chicken Creek Rd, Spearfish) and Lil’ Harvester’s Pumpkin Patch (8680 US-16, Rapid City) draw eager crowds each year. We also checked in with Dry Creek Farms to find out what their annual Educational Cover Crop Maze & U-Pick Pumpkin Patch looks like this year.

When: Saturdays 10 a.m. to dark Sundays 1-5 p.m. beginning September 29th- October (weather permitting)

Where: 23630 Wisehart Rd, Caputa, SD 57725

The aroma of the 10 acres at Dry Creek Farm and Ranch is fresh cut hay, corn, apple cider, the earth kicked up and tossed about by the hayrides, but it’s a particular sound that echoes across the ranch that Kristy Freeland most looks forward to each year.

“It’s listening to the sound of laughter coming up from the maze – there is something so precious in hearing that harmony on our property,” said Freeland, who owns the ranch with husband Shawn.

The couple opened the Dry Creek Educational Cover Crop Maze & U-Pick Pumpkin Patch as a way to connect with urban neighbors and share with the community about agriculture in Western South Dakota.

It happened fast. They started talking about their vision in 2018

and by March of 2019, Shawn said, “I think God wants us to open a maze and pumpkin patch … this year,” Kristy recalled. “We dove all in, without a real plan, just a desire to connect. We had no idea what to expect but word of mouth spread and despite the crazy weather; we had about 800 people come through. It was an amazing experience.”

The Freelands now manage the ranch in a holistic, regenerative way. The pumpkins, for example, become feed for the livestock. The pumpkins are chemical-free, hand-trimmed and planted. On the Fall hayride, Shawn explains the soil cycle and the role the livestock plays in maintaining the health of it. The couple sells grass-fed beef and lamb as well as pastured pork.

“When they’re on the hayride and a parent or child has their “A-Ha” moment, maybe it’s a paradigm shift, a realization of sorts or a forgotten

memory, it’s a beautiful moment we get to witness,” Kristy said.

Their goal is not drawing large crowds to the ranch, but to maintain it first as a working ranch and inviting people to come be part of it, she added.

“We continue to encourage a slow-movement type growth,” she explained. “It’s important to us that people can learn, explore, relax and have meaningful conversation while here. Our desire is for families to get outside and experience some freedom and connection to nature. Most importantly, we want to plant a seed about the importance of agriculture and its direct connection to their family’s health, challenge them to buy local and to know their farmer.”

Facebook: Dry Creek Farm & Ranch Instagram

Story: Kayla Gahagan


Old MacDonald’s Petting Farm, just outside of Rapid City, is hosting their annual Fall Festival Days every Saturday in October. This family-friendly farm experience is a blast for everyone. All the usual Old MacDonald’s suspects are here — chickens, cows, rabbits, horses, turkeys, pigs, emu and many, many more — but there’s additional fall-themed activities to take part in during these special October days. Those would include exploring the corn bin and pumpkin patch, hitching a ride on the hay wagon and much more. And admission is good for every Saturday in October.


The Spearfish Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze is located a few miles off of exit 8, just outside of Spearfish. Get lost in their huge corn maze, pick your own pumpkin or burn off some energy on the playground. The humongous hay bale slide and the zipline are two must-tries for anyone looking to add a little adrenaline to their pumpkin patch experience. With such a huge selection of activities to take part in, no one is getting bored here. Pro tip: visit the Spearfish Valley Produce website to print out and complete the waiver to save time in line.


Lil’ Harvester’s Pumpkin Patch is just across the road from Reptile Gardens. Stop by to pick your own pumpkin (almost any size, shape, color or texture you can dream of) and experience the peace and joy of the fall season. Open every Saturday and Sunday throughout October, this charming pumpkin patch has a lot to offer its visitors — get up close to some


There’s no better way to bid adieu to summer than to celebrate the coming of fall with pumpkin picking, hay rides and more. So, if you have a fall bucket list (and we know you do), check out some of these other autumn opportunities throughout the region to get your fall on.

37 &


That precious, protected sweet spot at the foot end of our busy week that holds so much potential. Can you envision it? The bonding. The rest. The adventures.


Anyone else feeling the pressure here? Let’s be real. If you’re like most of us, you end up at the water cooler on Monday with very little rest, a household that did more bickering than bonding, and the adventures? Hmmmm, does repainting the storage room count?

I think I’m ready to face it – our family could be a little more intentional during the weekends if we’re going to steward this time well. I don’t think I’m alone. It seems that a lot of us struggle to release the week’s pressure valve and truly embrace what the weekend has to offer.

According to a recent study commissioned by Charisma, almost 90 percent of adults surveyed said they feel anxiety on Sunday afternoons

(3:58 p.m. to be exact) about starting the work week on Monday and many can’t seem to let go of their work worries and obligations during the weekend. On average, it takes people about two hours to completely unwind once they get home from work on Friday.

My husband and I sat down to talk about our priorities for our weekends and it’s given me some real hope. We want to hit four quadrants on the weekends: doing something that benefits us mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally. And because we have four kids at home 13 and under, we’re aiming to do as much of it together as possible.

The list is endless: hiking, reading, church, a cup of coffee with a friend, jumping on the trampoline, card games, yard work, and on and on. How each of those lands in a quadrant is up to us, but we are intentional in making sure we’re hitting all four.

Our hope is that we no longer approach Fridays with the weight of expectation or sign off on Sundays with disappointment that the weekend flopped and

we missed out on what could have been. We’re intentional in making what we do quality time and for this season of life, that is the bar of success.

Creating intentional weekends doesn’t mean that every Saturday and Sunday are epic, or that you checked off each of those tiny squares on your to-do list. It simply means that you set out with intention, and you sat in the driver’s seat of where your time went.

There is one idea for weekends that hits ALL four quadrants (that’s a home run, right?) – and that’s a meal together at the dining room table. I’ve dug my heels in on this one – I try, as many nights a week, to get us all around the dinner table.

I wish I could paint you a prettier picture, but seriously, there are some nights when I am literally sweating by the time I have wrangled all 6 of us, gotten through prayer, passed the food, kept conversation on track, refereed a fight or two, delegated dishes and clean up and collapsed on the couch.

It’s a lot. But it’s not something I’m going to give up because I know deep down what it does for our family, even on nights when someone is grumpy, or they don’t like the food or the conversation isn’t as impactful as I wanted. It reminds us of exactly that – we are family. We’re in this together and that means taking

Story: Kayla Gahagan

time for each other. Exercising that muscle of us being intentional to hit pause on our day, tuck the electronics away and meet eye-to-eye is so important.

We touch the spiritual by praying together. We touch the physical by nourishing our bodies. We touch the mental and emotional with conversation, taking turns with each person around the table – what was the high of your day and what was the low? It’s called your pits and peaks and it’s amazing what you learn about your children and your spouse when they have space to talk.

Not every night works. We juggle the activities and homework, school events and sports, but I’ve set a weekly goal of how often we gather and I stick to it – even if it means pizza and paper plates and we’re only perched at the table for 20 minutes.

(Too bad we don’t live in France. Did you know the French take an average of 1.5 hours for a dinnertime meal around the table? I’m trying to picture that in my home and the only way it’s happening is if duct tape is involved. Seriously, how do they keep their littles contained that long? It’s something to aspire to, anyway.)

Let me encourage you – keep setting the table, keep drawing your family together, to eat, to talk, to connect, even when you’re worn out or not sure it’s worth it. It is. And maybe, just maybe, the weekend is the perfect time to start implementing a meal or two together.

Intention. Time.

How challenging it can be for families to find a healthy pace of living when our priorities seem scattered sometimes. It’s one of the reasons I authored and released my first book this summer - Radical Joy: Christ’s Call to Purposeful, Joy-filled Motherhood. Don’t get the wrong impression from the title. It says Motherhood, but it’s really for anyone pursuing purpose. As we chat about intentionality in this edition of Black Hills Family, we thought it was fitting to include a portion of Chapter 5 - Hot Mess. It gives a sneak peek into a life that was too much on the go and needed a radical slowing down. I hope it encourages you.

“A couple of months later, in early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Around the country, things rapidly shut down. My small businesses stuttered to a stop. Our school closed. Our church moved online. My entire calendar cleared. It was a stunning reversal to the otherwise busy and chaotic life we led. It was a pivot. It felt like a miracle.

We had less money coming in, but I felt wealthier. Our evenings and weekends had been jam-packed with school activities, sports, dance classes and service projects. Now it was all on hold. We were simply home. Yet, I didn’t feel stuck at home; I felt rested.

I built more blanket forts, Lego towers, and marshmallow stick people. I cooked more meals— zucchini lasagna, stuffed chicken ricotta, my grandma’s zucchini cake and banana bread. Elijah discovered a knack for making homemade popcorn on the stove. Jonah kept me at his bedside longer at bedtime. I chased the kids in the back yard more often, rode bikes to the pond, stirred purple slime, folded paper airplanes, read more books. I listened closer, left space for silence, and spoke carefully and openly when they asked questions about a cuss word they heard at the park or wondered about their body.

I’m not delusional; this was no fairytale. There was also more fighting, more messes, more stepping on each other’s toes. But when there’s space and time, you have the capacity, the extra oomph to deal with the things that rub us against one other and build a strong foundation on which your family can grow.

I was forced into a time of rest. I was forced into a time of renewal. I realized, perhaps for the first time, that I was not drained because of my kids; I was drained because of all the running around.

The positive changes our family experienced in no way diminish the fact that the pandemic wreaked havoc

I felt lighter than I had in years. We all need rest. But we don’t rest, do we? We don’t do boundaries well. We don’t say no well. We don’t ask for help well. We simply don’t know how to stop.

on innumerable lives and ushered in a season of grief for many people. I honor those situations. But the Covid pandemic also brought clarity. And when the dust settled for our family, that clarity meant not returning to the schedule we had lived before.

I felt lighter than I had in years. We all need rest. But we don’t rest, do we? We don’t do boundaries well. We don’t say no well. We don’t ask for help well. We simply don’t know how to stop.

The term “rat race” was coined in the 1930s to describe the futile, endless race between rats who scurried from room to room, trying to outpace each other to get to the piece of cheese. Trainee fighter pilots also used the term to describe the process of following the leader, copying all the actions, loops, snap rolls and tighter turns of an experienced pilot. We are just like that sometimes. We spend all our energy trying to keep up, and we use it as an excuse to not stop and deal with our emotions, cultivate healthy habits, or get our priorities in order.

Our families suffer because of it. We suffer because of it.

Friends, just what are you chasing?

And so here I am, still struggling some days to not fill every margin but be much more intentional about crafting a life that isn’t going to slip away so quickly because I couldn’t slow down. I still have work to do, but I have purposefully stopped saying, “Oh, we’re so busy,” because it’s something I have desperately sought to change in our home.

Our lives are full, and I want them to be full of the right things.”

To keep reading: grab a copy of Radical Joy at or on Kindle or paperback at



As summer draws to a close and your family begins the transition back to school, it’s important to help your child choose a backpack that is right for them. If their backpack is too heavy or doesn’t fit well, it can cause discomfort and pain, and eventually they’ll stop using it.

The right backpack shouldn’t be too big, and it should have padded shoulder straps and a padded back. Encourage your child not to overload their backpack — carrying too much can cause back strain and eventually lead to orthopedic problems. If they have a

Back to school is also the time to schedule your child for a sports physical.

These exams are required by the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the Wyoming High School Activities Association and other organizations.

During the exam, a Monument Health provider will evaluate the heart, lungs, bones, joints and more to determine whether the student athlete is medically eligible to participate in sports.

Monument Health is once again offering sports physical examinations free of charge to school-age athletes at all Monument Health primary care clinics and urgent care locations.

Patients are required to make an appointment at primary care. Urgent care locations can accommodate walk-ins, however patients requiring urgent medical care may be seen first. To view a full list of locations, visit monument. health/locations.

school locker available, encourage them to use it. Ideally, a backpack shouldn’t weigh more than 10-15 percent of your child’s body weight.

Your child should wear their backpack with both shoulder straps, and it should be adjusted so that it sits evenly on your child’s back. The heaviest items should be packed closest to the child’s back with lighter items in the front of the backpack.

It’s also a good idea to inspect the backpack regularly. Look for any signs of wear and tear, such as broken straps or tears in the fabric. If your child walks to school, or has a locker that isn’t convenient, a backpack with wheels is a good option to keep those heavy items off their back.

Alenda Derby, Physical Therapist Monument Health Sturgis Hospital
If you’re not careful, your child’s backpack can become a real pain in the neck.


Don’t let those important school dates sneak up on you. Stay on top of your schedule by checking out our school year calendar for districts around the Black Hills.

For reference only. This list is not comprehensive and may have been revised since publishing. Districts may have other days off that are not included on this list. Make sure to check with your school district’s official calendar for a complete and up-to-date list of days off and other important dates.

First day of school

Aug 22 Aug 28 Aug 24 Aug 30 Aug 21 Aug 23 Aug23 Aug 17 Aug 21 RapidCityAreaSchoolDistrictMeadeCountySchoolDistrictSpearfishSchoolDistrictLead-DeadwoodSchoolDistrictHotSpringsSchoolDistrictCusterSchoolDistrictHillCitySchoolDistrictBelleFourcheSchoolDistrictDouglasSchoolDistrict

Labor Day recess

Thanksgiving Recess


Winter Recess

Martin Luther King, Jr. Recess President’s Day Recess

Spring Recess/ Easter Recess

Last Day of School

May 24


44 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM Sept 4 Sept 1-4 Sept 4 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Dec 18-Jan 1 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Mar 22-Apr 1 Mar 8, Mar 29-Apr 1 Mar 29-Apr 1 Jan 15 Jan 15 Jan 15 Feb 19 Feb 19 Feb 19

Lead-DeadwoodHotSpringsCuster HillCity BelleFourcheDouglas

45 Sept 4 Sept 4 Sept 4 Sept 4 Sept 4 Sept 4 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Nov 20-24 Mar 29-Apr 1, Mar 28-Apr 1 Mar 28-Apr 1 Mar 14-15, Mar 29-Apr 1 Apr 1-5 Apr 11-12 Mar 29-Apr1 Jan 15 NA Jan 15 NA NA Jan 15 Feb 19 Feb 19 NA Feb 19 Feb 19 Feb 19 May 23 May 21 Mat 21 May 23 May 23 May 22


Like Hey Dudes and flared jeans, charcuterie boards are having a moment right now. With their elegant charm and ostensible opulence, nothing says snacking with style quite like a charcuterie board.

But what’s the secret to creating a board with an Insta-worthy wow factor? It’s really quite simple. It’s all about filling the board — no empty space allowed. Think Thanksgiving cornucopia. We want the board to be practically spilling over with goodness.

Now, let’s take it a step further. Let’s make it for the kids. The secret to a great kidfriendly charcuterie board is this: fill it with things you know they like. They don’t want quince jelly and stilton on their boards (you probably don’t either). Fill it with popcorn and baby carrots and salty little black olives that they can slide on their fingers.

This isn’t so much a recipe as it is some guidelines on creating a charcuterie board that the whole family will devour. Talk about a winner of an afterschool snack.

A great foundation

Every great charcuterie board starts with, well, a great board. You’ve got something in your house that will work — trust me. A big cutting board, a platter, even your biggest cookie sheet would work. Remember, we’re going to be filling it with food, so whatever your board is will magically vanish into the background.

Things that go in bowls

There are things that will go on your charcuterie board that will need a container. This would include anything super rolly (blueberries, some olives, spherical candies) and anything that’s in the dip family (ranch, hummus, quince jelly). Place these things in bowls and strategically space them on your boards.

You’re so cheesy

A really easy way to get your cheese ready is to buy it pre-sliced. But if you didn’t, slice the cheese or chunk it up and lay them on the board. A really fun cheese that the kids will get a kick out of (not to mention it makes a great quesadilla) is Oaxaca cheese. Most grocery stores stock this nowadays. This is a Mexican cheese that is essentially one giant string cheese twisted into a ball. It’s so much fun, and it’s a unique snack that the kids will be sure to enjoy.


Where fashion sits

Whatever your family’s favorite crackers are, lay them out on the board. Alternatively, whatever sort of crackers you happen to have in the pantry, lay them out on the board.

Nice to meat you

Pepperonis, salami, ham, turkey — whatever everyone likes, fan them out next to your cheese. Bonus points for rolling lunch meats up like little flowers.

Fruits and veggies

Apple slices, orange slices, pineapple chunks, baby carrots, celery sticks, peas and anything else your family loves to munch on. Tuck whatever produce you’re using where you can. Your board’s starting to look pretty nice, isn’t it?


Are there any gaps left on your board? It’s time to raid the pantry and fill those in. Use things like Goldfish crackers, pretzels, Teddy Grahams or cereal. Whatever you’ve got.

Soak in the sights of your masterpiece. Then, enjoy watching it get devoured.


Laurel’s note: It’s super easy to double (or triple the recipe) since every ingredient’s amount is the same.


This amazing snack recipe is from our photographer, Laurel Danley. These tasty snacks are quick, easy and a great source of protein and fiber. After school or after practice, these peanut butter balls are a delicious way to refuel.

Options in the world of snacking couldn’t be more expansive. From quinoa to Funyans, snacks can be sweet, salty, healthy, decadent and everything in between. The good folks at Harvard researched the topic of snacking and discovered a lot of really useful information. One of the most interesting things these researchers found was that approximately 27 percent of children’s daily calorie intake comes from snacking. With such a substantial percentage of their energy coming from snacks, maybe it’s worth thinking about what our little ones are munching on in between meals.


1 cup creamy

peanut butter

1 cup rolled oats

(not quick cooking)

1 cup powdered milk

1 cup honey


• Blend the rolled oats in a blender to the consistency of flour.

• Blend together the rolled oats and powdered milk in a large mixing bowl. Add honey and peanut butter. Mix thoroughly.

• Roll into 1 inch balls

• Refrigerate and enjoy!

Whether it’s a quick pick-me-up or quelling a torrential storm of hangriness, a great snack has the ability to make a fun time even better or potentially — dare we say it — save the day.
The Monument Health Foundation supports the expansion to Children’s Services at Rapid City Hospital, including: Labor & Delivery | Neonatal Intensive Care | Advanced Pediatrics EVERY GIFT MAKES A DIFFERENCE P: 605-755-9191 E: TO LEARN MORE OR MAKE A DONATION, scan QR code or visit spearfishexpansion PLEASE CONSIDER A GIFT in support of Children’s Services at Rapid City Hospital today. WAYS TO GIVE RAPID CITY HOSPITAL CHILDREN’S EXPANSION Support our $7.1 million capital campaign benefiting families throughout the region. • Consider a 1, 2 or 3-year pledge • Cash/check/credit card • Planned Giving (Estate, IRA, etc.) Gifts • Donor Advisor Funds
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