Birthday parties are a lot of work. There’s the food to make, decorations to put up, and then the planning and prepping of enough crafts and activities to keep your child’s little friends busy for the duration of the party. That’s why, for Lily’s 7th birthday party this weekend, I was happy to let someone else do all the work! She was the guest of honour for a Fun GymBus birthday party.
The nice thing about planning Lily’s party is that I can usually count on the weather to be nice. Mid-May has been sunny and warm here in Vancouver for the past several days. We decided to have most of the GymBus birthday party in the yard, where it would be easy to transition the kids onto the bus. We hung a “Happy Birthday” over the fence with some balloons and set the lawn chairs in the shade for guests. (Of course, Lily and her friends were too busy running around to sit in the chairs, but a few parents may have relaxed there…)
Before the GymBus arrived, the kids drew chalk pictures, played with foam slingshot arrows, made a craft, and had cake and snacks. I’ve learned to strike a balance between “planned” activities like crafts and more informal activities like the slingshot arrows. These were a dollar store find that kept the kids busy for much longer than I expected. My husband chalked a target onto the fence, but the girls spent more time shooting their arrows over the fence and then running after them.
Every car that drove past made them look up to see if the bus had finally arrived. My girls have played on the bus at the Healthy Family Expo and other summer fairs, so they were excited to have the whole bus to themselves.
When the GymBus finally chugged around the corner, we had to hold the kids back to give the driver a chance to park. At last, the bus was turned off and the doors opened to welcome them aboard!
We attempted to get the girls to form a nice line up, but in a group of homeschoolers and preschoolers, that didn’t exactly work. Lily did make it to the front of the line and they climbed onto the bus, leaving a scattered pile of shoes at the front. I’m sure the neighbours were happy that the noise of the party had moved from our yard to the more contained bus!
On board the bus, the girls lost no time getting down to playing! The GymBus is designed in a loop. The girls swung on a set of rings, dropped onto a bean bag, hopped or ran across a set of mats to flop into a ball pit, then climbed out to walk a balance beam or swing along a set of monkey bars, go down a slide, climb a wall, bounce on a mini trampoline, and start it all again!
We had five kids attend our GymBus birthday party, as some of Lily’s friends were unfortunately unable to make it at the last minute. The GymBus can hold up to twelve kids, and is designed for children ages 2 to 10. Because of the small numbers for the party, I let Pearl (18 months) go in to play too. Sunshine just turned 9 and definitely found some of the things on the bus a bit small (like the climbing wall and monkey bars). Otherwise, it was a great option for a party that includes kids in a mix of ages.
For my active 7-year-old and her party companions, it was the perfect way to burn off some birthday energy! It was fun to see which parts of the bus attracted different kids. The ball pit was a huge hit with nearly everyone. Jade loved the climbing wall, while Pearl (who joined the fun after she woke up from her nap) was left to herself on the slide (much the way she likes it).
The two staff members were great with the kids. While the girls were happy doing the circuit, they stood back and watched. When they noticed that the circuit wasn’t working anymore, they quickly suggested a new activity. Pinning up the rings, they hung a swing in its place. The girls attempted to form another lineup so they could each have a turn on the swing. Even just a short swing had such, well, swing! that the staff were careful to make sure it didn’t hit the wall of the bus or any other kids.
At the end of each swinger’s turn, the girls counted down from ten to zero. Then the child on the swing dropped onto the beanbag beneath her, and the next girl climbed on the swing. Here, the small party numbers meant that the girls didn’t have to wait long between turns. (Which was great, because the preschoolers were getting into fisticuffs, but that’s another story…)
When the girls started to tire of the swing, the staff had another surprise up their sleeve: the long-awaited ZIPLINE! The swing came down and a couple foam steps were rearranged to let the girls climb up to the zipline. One staff member helped the girls get onto the swing and gave them a push, while the other staff member made sure they landed safely at the other end. This was definitely a highlight of the party for all five kids, from the 9-year-old to the 3-year-old. It was fun to watch each of them bounce into the ball pit at the end of the zipline and come up grinning.
The zipline also signaled the end of the party, as it was the last activity of the GymBus birthday party. As the hour ticked to an end, the staff put the zipline away and gathered the girls for one final surprise: a T-shirt and birthday medal for the birthday girl.
And with that, we herded the girls off the bus and waved goodbye! It was certainly a fun (and easy!) way to celebrate Lily’s birthday and I know she’ll remember this birthday for years to come.
To book a GymBus birthday party for your child, drop by the website. I loved the fact that the bus came to us, yet didn’t require any space for throwing a party. We have a small condo which was packed with kids for Sunshine’s birthday party this February. It was so much easier to keep the kids outside and on the bus for Lily’s birthday!
Out of the birthdays I’ve planned recently, this was definitely the easiest. I just had to book the GymBus (a quick phone call!), grab some party food (veggie platter, fruit platter and a cake from the grocery store…) and throw together a few goody bags (I went with a summer theme: bubbles, sidewalk chalk, and a foam slingshot arrow for each child). Voila! Birthday party for a 7-year-old accomplished. Thanks, Vancouver GymBus!
The Vancouver GymBus hosted Lily’s party in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.