Eleven-year-old Grace Veinotte, left, dad Paul and brother Mason, nine, make their way through a corn maze. - Submitted
By Laura Churchill Duke
“I’m enjoying this so much more than I thought I would!”
When we told our sons, seven-year-old Daniel and five-year-old Thomas that we were heading to a corn maze, they had originally thought it sounded like a lot of aimless walking around. Were they ever wrong!
We headed to Evans’ Family Farm Market in Wilmot and were given a map of the corn maze.
“I commend the map makers. Navigating this intricate maze was easy and anxiety-free,” said Kentville mom Christianne Rushton. “The map was detailed and true, so you never felt like you were lost. This was imperative, as the maze was tricky.”
The corn maze is set up like a giant scavenger hunt, with six “secret stamps” to collect and add to your map. None of the locations of the stamp stations were marked on the map and you had to get pretty close to their locations before you spotted them. I loved the sense of camaraderie within the maze, with everyone helping each other to find all six. We were bound and determined not to leave the maze until we had collected them all.
“I am not sure the point at which it became more important for me and less important for the kids to find those last stamps,” admitted my husband, David.
Nicole Veinotte of Port Williams, has gone to several corn mazes with her children, Grace, 11, and Mason, nine. She recommends setting some ground rules before going.
“Kids, especially younger ones, want to run through the mazes,” she said.
When we went to the Dakeyne Sunflower Maze in Mount Denson, this was not a problem as the stalks weren’t very high, so we could see the children at all times. This is not the case with corn stalks. It would be very easy for people to get lost, so make a rule to stick together.
“Perhaps the children need to keep talking so that you can follow their voice if you can't see them,” Veinotte suggests.
Another idea would be to set a clear rendezvous point outside the maze before you enter in case you get separated.
“This way, the kids know where to wait if they find their way out before you,” suggests Barb Baker of Port Williams, who takes her son every year to the maze.
Otherwise, according to Mason Veinotte, a maze becomes a place where “you get to run away from your parents to see if they can catch up to you!”
“Be prepared for a long walk,” cautions Baker, “Once you get into the maze, it may be an hour or more before you find your way out.”
The mazes are built with several exits, and make sure you know where they are. For example, Thomas only lasted 50 minutes, so I took him out to play while Daniel and his dad completed the maze in 90 minutes.
“After a few minutes in, our two-year old decided he didn’t want any more, so I had to carry all 35 pounds of him for the next hour,” says Rushton.
If you are going to use a stroller, make sure it is appropriate for some rough terrain. Water is also a must to bring. “We’ve also needed band aids and snacks,” says Baker. “In other words, bring the same kind of things you would take on an hour-long hike.”
Dress appropriately. Good footwear, like sneakers or rubber boots if it has been raining, are a must. “Even though you are hidden within the cornstalks, you will definitely still need hats and sunscreen,” says Rushton.
Overall, mazes are great experiences for kids. Most of the bigger mazes are best suited for children five years and older. However, some farms have smaller mazes built alongside the larger and which are appropriate for younger children.
Completing a maze gives a great sense of achievement for children – my son Daniel exited the Evans’ maze with a triumphant, “We did it Mommy! We got all the stamps!”
As Baker says, “they are running and yelling and hiding from their parents. It’s outside and the air is cool and I’m mostly relaxed and not yelling at them to be careful or slow down or not to be so loud. What’s not to love?”
Laura Churchill Duke, who runs Valley Family Fun has been to several mazes with her boys. The highlight for her youngest is collecting the stamps all over his body! A list of the local corn and sunflower mazes can be found at valleyfamilyfun.ca