Hi there! My name is Michelle Flickinger and I am the owner/founder of Wild and Free. I call Silverthorne home, along with my husband, Brian, daughters, Ellie and Reagan...our dog Lulu and a few chickens too. When I'm not at Wild and Free, you will likely find me outside - I love everything about living in the mountains and exploring this amazing place that we are fortunate to call home.
Raising our girls in the mountains inspired me to start Wild and Free - I believe in open-ended, imaginative, free-play and fostering a strong relationship between children and nature. Please reach out with any questions, I look forward to seeing you soon!
- Michelle -
The Wild and Free Story...
Wild and Free started at the kitchen table in our home here in Silverthorne during the summer of 2019. We were talking about how fun it would be if some of our favorite breweries and restaurants had a place where kids could play while the adults hung out and socialized. Various plans were (literally) drawn up by me and the kids...tree forts, climbing walls, boats, places to practice casting fly rods...Wild and Free Draft 0.1 was quite the place! We scaled it to something a bit more manageable and set out to find a space.
We found the home for Wild and Free in Dillon - and signed our lease in February 2020. Timing is everything, right? Enter March, and a global pandemic. Talk about a challenge. We held tight and got our space ready to open as soon as local restrictions would allow, which happened to be July 2020. Given the environment we were opening in, things looked a little different than we had originally envisioned. Kids ages 3 and up had to wear masks, occupancy was at 25%, and there was no "grand" opening. We limped through summer and were cautiously optimistic about fall...COVID had other plans and we ended up at 10% capacity going into Christmas.
December 29th we received our 5 Star Certification and were allowed to operate at 25% capacity again - this was a major turning point for Wild and Free. Attendance picked up and we had some amazing play sessions with families living in and visiting Silverthorne, Frisco, Dillon, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper. February 13th we went up to 50% capacity for the first time since we opened back in July. I almost cried the first time we hit our capacity and had a wait-list for a Saturday morning play session.
Since then, we've safely hosted birthday parties, family meet-ups, and open play sessions with families from all over the country. Seeing our vision come to life has been so rewarding and watching kids enjoy the space makes my heart so happy. We can't wait to see what the future holds for Wild and Free and are so appreciative of all the support from the families who have visited us since our opening in July. You fill my cup and I am so glad to be here to meet you!
- Michelle -