The longer I stayed there, however, I realized that no matter what sorts of conservation measures the resort takes, their very essence is anti-green (What's the opposite of green? On the color wheel it's red. Well, Great Wolf Lodge is red in its heart). Throughout the entire place, animatronic animals were singing and smiling at you. Fake trees provided indoor shade ...
... and their trunks bore flat-screen televisions advertising features of the resort. If anything says "Screw the woods," it's an indoor tree that grows televisions. I began to feel insulted that the designers of this place seemed to think they could fool you into thinking you were actually caring about the environment when you were doing everything possible to get away from the real thing.
To add to the careless re-creation of the American Northwest as a family attraction, an animatronic Indian princess told bedtime stories every evening, perpetuating kids' images of American natives as savages who talk to animals. As an educator who has spent a great deal of time trying to disabuse my students of their stereotypes of native culture, the idea of a bunch of (mostly white) kids sitting down in front of this display turned my stomach. And I like tasteless talking robots.
The woods are messy, dark, mysterious. They can be dangerous, ferocious, tranquil, or generous. One moment they may be dappled with sunlight and the next they might be sucking you into a swamp or confusing you with a false trail through the trees. But the things they will never be? They will never be plastic. They will never be filled with smiling wolves and owls. They will never be indoors.
Unless we teach our kids that places like the Great Wolf Lodge are an acceptable alternative to the real thing. And then, indoors may be the only place we have left to run.