Since 2007, the Robots-4-U team has been teaching children a program of STEM?science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Children absorb skills and knowledge through entertaining interactions with instructors, other campers, and robot kits. The camp maintains a 16:1 student to instructor ratio, ensuring children receive the proper amount of individual attention. Campers build robot kits comprising a brain unit and sensory appendages, which replicate seeing, hearing, touching and reading minds. Once the bots are assembled, children enter their creations into racing, dancing, and battle-bot challenges.
For three days in November, the Weihnachtsmarkt Christmas Market brings Olde World Christmas spirit to New Braunfels. Vendors set up cheery red and green booths in the German-style holiday market, where they sell homemade wares such as aromatic roasted nuts, unique toys, vintage cameos, and homemade toffee. Nearby, authors sit ready to discuss their novels or sing their favorite Christmas carols at the on-site book fair and a jolly Santa eats breakfast with kids of all ages. To keep guests warm during the event, Sophie's Cafe serves up warm mugs of soup paired with sandwiches or tempting desserts.
Proceeds from the event benefit The Sophienburg Museum and Archives, which serves as the hub for immigration ship logs, photos, and documents of the first German Americans who found their way to Texas.
Within the McKenna Children's Museum, the laughter of parents and children bounces through the corridors of hands-on educational exhibits. The ever-changing features and activities foster creativity in youngsters while stimulating their interest in science, health, and nature. In a realistic grocery store, shelves full of goods let kids practice nutritional shopping and arguing over the expiration dates of coupons. Further along, the Destination Space exhibit hosts a simulated space shuttle where children can take the helm of important-looking controls. Outside the museum, a colorful maze snakes up a 30-foot climbing structure, and cushy blue building pieces are scattered across the outdoor playground.
A large gift shop packs shelves with interactive toys from Melissa & Doug and Alex. A fresh salad bar stretches across the dining room of the onsite bistro, complementing a menu of healthy snacks that fuel wee ones for their day of play and night of blackmailing the boogeyman.
D Pad preserves the social aspect of video gaming by welcoming visitors into its haven of pixilated entertainment, filled with classic arcade machines, modern console systems, and a wide selection of retail titles. Ten PC gaming rigs and 16 flat-screen TVs equipped with Xbox 360 and PS3 systems rouse friendly competition from birthday revelers and other groups inside the store’s LAN center, decked out with exposed brick walls and sealed power boxes. Plucked from closed shopping malls and laundromats found frozen in icebergs, vintage arcade game cabinets, including 1942, X-Men, and NBA Jam entice quarter collectors to spend their cache in attempts to conquer difficult levels. An on-location retail shop also sends gamers home with favorite titles from yesterday and today through D Pad's buy, sell, and trade services.
Chuck's Tubes' team sends their customers on laid-back journeys down the Comal River's tree-lined waterways. Their inflatable vessels—which can also accommodate coolers and nonrobotic dogs—float down the river as it winds through the city of New Braunfels. Once tubers reach the end of their journey, an air-conditioned shuttle ferries them back to the launch point for another trip down the river. A private DJ spins tunes back at Chuck's Tubes' headquarters, where staff members help visitors understand maps of the Comal River and that tubes don't actually taste like donuts.
The 72-degree spring-fed waters of the Comal River snake through New Braunfels, throwing reflected light on tree branches that crane over the banks. One of the shortest navigable rivers in the United States, it stays a constant 72 degrees year round. Corner Tubes outfits visitors with black inner tubes or new vinyl tubes, letting them float down the river at a leisurely pace, then ride a shuttle from the last public river exit back to the entrance.