At JuJu Bees, the Playground Comes Indoors

By Beacon Staff

In California, Judith McCabe had memberships to eight different indoor children’s playgrounds for her two kids. When she needed a change of scenery from her house and it was too cold to take the kids to the park to play, she went to one of the indoor playgrounds. Then she moved to Kalispell and, much to her surprise, there were no such children’s facilities available.

So McCabe opened her own.

At McCabe’s JuJu Bees Indoor Playhouse, located in the former Kalispell Parks and Recreation Department building on First Avenue East, parents can take their children to a warm place that offers games, books and a comfortable environment for social interaction – for both the kids and the parents. McCabe said it’s important for a community to have a safe indoor environment for children to play.

It’s not a daycare, so parents can’t drop their kids off. They must be present at all times. But while their little ones play with each other, the grown-ups have time to chat with fellow parents. McCabe said book clubs and parent groups meet there. JuJu Bees has only been open since November, but McCabe said she already has some days when she nearly reaches capacity.

In these cold winter months, places like the park aren’t always inviting destinations for parents and their kids.

“That’s why I created this – the valley really needs something indoors,” McCabe said.

McCabe charges $7 for a child per day, whether that’s an entire day, one hour or a few hours here and there scattered throughout the day. The cost is $5 for siblings. McCabe said her services are geared toward ages 6 and under, but older kids are welcome too. McCabe also has memberships: A monthly pass costs $25 per child or $40 for up to three children. It is $10 per additional child after that.

JuJu Bees offers complimentary coffee and Wi-Fi Internet service. Downstairs is split into three areas: infant, snack and play. The play area has a “bouncer” – an inflatable bouncing house – and toys. No outside food or drinks are allowed, but McCabe sells snacks. Upstairs there is a small library and a sitting area for reading and chatting. McCabe doesn’t mind if people want to take her books home, as long as they return them.

While JuJu Bees isn’t a school, McCabe does offer learning opportunities such as Spanish lessons, music classes and art days free of charge. McCabe doesn’t forget about the adults either. She recently had representatives from Mary Kay come in for facials for the moms, and plans to have other adult-oriented activities in the future.

JuJu Bees is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Sundays are McCabe’s busiest days, sometimes attracting up to 20 families. The rest of the week, she said it’s not unusual to have at least 10 families at a time.

McCabe offers parties on Saturdays. Packages range from $100 to $300 for up to 15 children to have exclusive access to the facility. Personalized birthday cakes, party favors, balloons, pizza and games are available at the parties. For more information, go to jujubeesindoorplayhouse.com.

“When you’re home and it’s cold out, what can you do?” McCabe said. “Everyone’s been really positive about this.”

To contact JuJu Bees, call Judith McCabe at 260-4008 or e-mail her at [email protected]. The address is 35 First Ave. East, Kalispell.

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