(Published June 1, 2021)
Returning to Indy in January 2021 after nearly 12 years abroad, during a pandemic, was almost a blessing in disguise for the Ho family (parents Darren and Steffanie and kids Lauren, Colson and Raegan). “We’re able to take the repatriation at our own pace,” Steffanie said. “Everything’s from home, we’re not thrust back in to mainstream society.” When the Hos were ready to find a sport facility for the family, a work colleague recommended the J, and they’ve been members since April.
The Hos love that they can enjoy JCC amenities year-round. Both Darren and Steffanie play tennis, and all three kids are attending tennis camp this summer, so they appreciate that the J has both indoor and outdoor courts. But what really got them were the pools. “All of them – indoor and outdoor,” Darren said.
Just Keep Swimming
Because CampJCC includes daily swim time at the Eskenazi Water Park, the Ho kids began taking swim lessons almost as soon as they joined the J, to brush up on their skills before summer’s arrival (the kids are water-safe already, so the lessons were more about endurance, discipline and reinforcing their abilities). Colson and Raegan took group lessons in the Backer Therapy Pool and Lauren, who is a more advanced swimmer than her siblings, took private lessons in the Regenstrief Natatorium. “The smaller pool is not intimidating for the kids, and it’s super warm too,” Steffanie said.
A former Water Safety Instructor, at one time Steffanie tried to teach the kids to swim herself, but she soon realized, “When I teach, it’s just playtime, because they’re looking at me as ‘mom.’ They’re listening, but it’s not as effective. So I figured someone else can take over and put a little routine and structure into the lessons.”
Game, Set, Match
Similarly to swim lessons, while Darren and Steffanie aren’t teaching Lauren, Colson and Raegan tennis directly right now, the kids participate in tennis camp so that it’s an activity they can eventually do with their parents. “It’s important, since both [Darren] and I play, that they pick up on another sport that we can play together as a family,” Steffanie said. And, as Raegan put it, to learn how to not be hit in the face.
Lauren and Colson are no strangers to tennis camp – they attended while spending summers in Portland, Oregon with family and while living in Germany. But for Raegan, this is her first time attending tennis camp and her second summer in camp at all (and last year was in Germany), so she’s also taking part in a week of traditional CampJCC to adjust and “get warmed up to the whole camp concept” before joining her siblings in tennis.
Global Tastes, Local Roots
The Hos lived in Shanghai from 2009 to 2016, then moved to Germany for the following four years, so the family’s tastes in food and games run the international gamut. “We like Italian noodles, we like Asian noodles,” Steffanie said, as the kids rattled off favorites including spaghetti, ramen, udon and pho. And they’ve come up with fun fusion ideas too, like using a raclette machine to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. For board and card games, they’re partial to classics like UNO, Connect Four and Guess Who, as well as German games like Obstgarten, known in English as The Little Orchard. Video games, however, are a no-go in the Ho household.
When the Hos are at the J, not only are they spending time being active instead of on screens, but it’s also another place for the family to put down roots. “That’s why the JCC’s important,” Steffanie said. After living in so many places, “we need a little stability.”