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Physical Education

Stuart Bowling Center, Stuart Iowa: Homeschool Friendly

Web site: Bowling Proprietors Association of America

by Michael Leppert

Any family that has been homeschooling more than a year or two, realizes the value of companies that offer their services to us during the daytime “down” hours when institutional school children are in school. These companies include gymnastics classes, karate, pottery and art studios, and of course, bowling centers. Companies that welcome homeschool groups in mid-day make it possible for our children to learn these skills or experience excellent socializing and just plain fun with other homeschoolers in a friendly environment. Because many of us do not want our children exposed to pop “culture” via T.V. and pop music, those business establishments that are sensitive to our tastes are even more valuable.

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The homeschoolers in the Des Moines, Iowa, area a very fortunate to have such an establishment in their vicinity. Stuart Bowl in Stuart, Iowa, a rural bedroom community, 25 miles from Des Moines, (70 miles from Omaha, Nebraska) offers homeschool groups the chance to enjoy the fun of bowling in a relaxed and “safe” environment. Proprietor, Terry Harrison, has owned the eight-lane Stuart Bowl for 33 years, and speaks of it with obvious pride. Mr. Harrison keeps his equipment in top working condition and has done extensive upgrading over the years adding a $100,000 sound and light system, automatic bumpers and new pin spotters. He should also be proud of the service he has been providing for the past 8 years to the homeschooling youngsters of the surrounding area, 25 to 40 miles away, which includes two other small towns in the immediate area and comprising 20 to 25 homeschool groups, ranging in size from 7 children up to 50 and in age, from newborns (not bowling) up to 18 years old – of course, including some parents! Terry says that despite the rural setting of Stuart, many of the homeschooling families that patronize his center are affluent, living near the small town of 4,000, but commuting to and from Des Moines for work each day. He also said that the homeschoolers know what they want and that the larger groups provide a significant number of parents to supervise the activities. Of course, many of the parents at Terry’s center enjoy the bowling experience alongside their children. (One of the great joys of homeschooling is such shared experiences!)

The homeschool bowling activities first started when Mr. Harrison was approached by a group with about 20 children, who asked if Stuart Bowl would entertain them. The group didn’t want any T.V. on at all because of the soap operas that were usually running in the bowling center during the day. Terry obliged by turning off the T.V. altogether during the homeschool bowling period. The homeschoolers also asked that Terry not play the usual music that he featured, which was of a “mainstream” pop nature, not particularly suited to their values and tastes. Terry again obliged and mentioned that many of the groups play their own Christian music during their bowling sessions. Some of the homeschoolers like the light show and glow-in-the-dark bowling he normally presents, so he has a discussion with the parents representing each group before the first session and determines what their ground rules are. Some don’t like to have food and sodas available to their children; again, Terry responds to their wishes accordingly.

Mr. Harrison also provides a service to the homeschooling community by discounting the prices he normally charges. A game is usually $3.80 and shoes are $2, but he only charges the homeschoolers $3 per game and provides the shoes for free! He said that he appreciates them coming to his center in midday and the fact that they collect their own money for him, thus making it much easier for him to handle their business. There are other bowling centers in the greater Des Moines area, but many of them are not open in the day time and because Stuart Bowl is small, Terry can custom fit his services to each group’s needs. All he asks is for the group to give him ample lead time as to when they want to come in and bowl, as his center is very busy during the school year.

If you live in the greater Des Moines area and have not yet experienced the custom service Terry Harrison provides at the Stuart Bowl, why not plan a bowling social event soon? Call Terry and discuss your group’s needs with him. No doubt, mid-day homeschool birthday parties, etc., at a fixed price, are also an excellent possibility, given the fact that Mr. Harrison also serves food during his normal service hours.

And even if you don’t live close enough to patronize Stuart Bowl, maybe you can ask your local bowling center proprietor to accommodate your homeschool group’s activities and set up a regular bowling day. Don’t forget that it can count as a P.E. course, too!


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