Star Party at Old North Durham, April 9, 2016

It's our third year hosting this event at Old North Durham Park, and we've finally hit on a new moon and hopefully, cool clear skies for deep sky viewing.  This year's theme is “Find Your Way in the Night Sky”, with children's activities, a planet walk and our 10-inch telescopes and high-powered binoculars to help you get the best look.  Jupiter is at an optimal position for viewing this time of year–in fact, this past Saturday night while camping I saw the moons of Jupiter and the stunning Pleiades with binoculars and the International Space Station did a fly-by at around 8pm.  The ever-interesting Orion is also prominent through late evening.  More information about the event is below these images:
Orion

Pleiades
Star Party (#20785)
Saturday, April 9 from 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Old North Durham Park
Come join DPR and NCCU as we gaze at the stars as a part of the NC Science Festival’s statewide Star Party. We'll have high-powered telescopes and knowledgeable staff to create an enjoyable evening of exploring the night sky.
All ages (children must be accompanied by an adult).
No cost, no pre-registration required

Cloud-out date 4/10

DPR Adventure Camp and Eno Discovery Camp Summer 2016

It's February, it's cold, no leaves on the trees, so it must be the perfect time to talk about summer camp, right?  It seems that we here in DPR Outdoor Recreation just finished summer camp, packed up our summer gear and headed into the cooler temps of fall. But, now we're fast into the planning and preparations for our summer operations, which includes our DPR Adventure Camp, Eno Discovery Camp and summer adventure programs that support DPR's other summer camps.

DPR summer camp registration begins Monday morning, March 14, 2016 at 8:30a.m.  Our camps typically fill up quickly, so we recommend registering as soon as possible! More information about DPR Adventure Camp and Eno Discovery Camp can be found at this link.

New to Eno Discovery Camp is West Point on the Eno Adventures for ages 9-13, which will be based at the Eno but will take campers to points throughout the area.  Camp description:

Spend a week trying out adventurous outdoor activities like rock climbing, kayaking, paddle boarding and much more. Campers meet at West Point on the Eno park in the morning and spends the day adventuring thought the natural wonders here in the Triangle. 
Space is limited, register early!

Never been to one of our camps?  Enjoy some images from past summers below!
Clean before we head into Worley's Cave…
Happy, dirty cavers afterward!

Lovely day on Lake Michie

Stand-Up paddle boarding!
Sliding at Upper Creek Falls in western NC
Climbing on the DPR Discovery Course
Camping at South Mountains State Park

Exploring the cool mountain waters

Winter Caving with DPR Outdoor Recreation

Winter is a challenging time to plan outdoor recreation for groups, especially with this erratic weather we're having these days.  One go-to adventure for us is caving. North Carolina doesn't have much in the way of caves, but Tennessee is loaded with limestone caves.  According to the Nature Conservancy, Tennessee has over 10,000 documented caves, which means they account for over 20% of the caves in the United States.  Such is our fortune that we live close enough to day trip to one such cave, Worley's, in Bluff City Tennessee.  Our entire staff is passionate about taking care of caves and their fragile ecology. For example, we wear gloves in the gave to protect the cave formations, since our body oil will stop the growth of soda straws, stalactites and stalactmites. We go in small groups to prevent disturbing colonies of bats, and we avoid shining our lights directly on bats when we see them.
Below are some pictures from our adventure in January. We hope you'll join us on our next journey to Tennessee!

Want to #optOutside? Durham's Got You Covered

REI has started a movement to the outdoors and has done it in a big way with it's new Black Friday campaign #optOutside. Intended to get people outside into nature instead of inside to stores, the campaign has become a national movement that we here at DPR can fully get behind.  We hope you'll choose to get outside this Friday and visit one of the local awesome natural resources that graces Durham. Hike lovely trails by the Eno River at  Eno River State Park, visit the historical West Point on the Eno Park where you can see an old grist mill in action or walk through the photography museum.  Another great option is to take a pair of binoculars to Sandy Creek Park to spot birds and (if we get a warm spell, the turtles will be out, too!).

If you really want to get crazy with holiday buying, how about giving the gift of DPR Outdoor Recreation experiences?  Find out how here in our fun video about upcoming adventure and environmental education programs. No matter what you choose, we hope that you #optOutside this Thanksgiving!

Along the Buffalo Trail at West Point on the Eno Park

Rain Getting You Down? Put on Your Rain Boots and Come Find Frogs and Other Wildlife with Us!

Good heavens, it's another rainy Monday in Durham!  I suppose we should be grateful, given that California and the other western states would love to have our dilemma, but I have missed having the extended fall that we normally have. Bright sunny days with the blast of orange, yellow and brown of changing leaves juxtaposed against Carolina blue skies–what's better than that?

These boggy days don't make us want to venture outdoors much, but there's so much to see even in this weather.  DPR Outdoor Recreation will have two environmental education programs for young people this coming weekend that help you find the hidden-in-the-open nature around us.  On Saturday, our Urban Wild program will take you on a hunt for what's in your backyard, and there should be a TON of mushrooms, moss, frogs and possibly salamanders at Campus Hills.  On Sunday, bring your boots for our Muddy Boots pre-school program at Sandy Creek Park, one of my favorites in Durham. Our theme is “Frogs” (how appropriate is that?), so that'll be a major focus of our day. Then take a walk on the muddy side and explore the frog habitat. More information is below?

Urban Wild – What's in my Backyard? (#18545)
Saturday November 14, 2015
2:00pm – 4:00pm
Campus Hills Park

Join DPR Outdoor Recreation for a free adventure in your park! Bring weather-appropriate clothing and lots of curiosity. All ages (children must be accompanied by an adult).

No cost, no pre-registration required.

Muddy Boots – Frogs (#18624)
Sunday November, 15, 2015
 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Sandy Creek Park

Adventure in nature with your preschooler at Sandy Creek Park. We'll read a nature-themed book, then take a walk on the wild side to find the nature right outside our door, then have a snack. Children must be accompanied by a parent, and of course, wear boots or sneakers that can get a little dirty!

ages 2-5 (children must be accompanied by an adult).
CR PC $1.25, CR NPC $1.50, NCR PC $5.50, NCR NPC $6.50
Pre-registration required

CR PC:City Resident, Play More Card
CR NPC: City Resident, No Play More Card
NCR PC: Non-City Resident, No Play More Card

NCR NPC: Non-City Resident, No Play More Card

Campout!Carolina: Camp with DPR at West Point on the Eno Park


It's incredible to me that we're coming up on our sixth campout at the lovely 400-acre West Point on the Eno Park.  Who camps in a City park, you may ask?  Tons of people, it turns out.  We have about seventy people, families with children or individuals looking for the camping experience locally, join us for this camping jamboree.  This year's event promises to be the best ever, with four storytellers, the Eno River Association leading water exploration in the river, Piedmont Wildlife Center bringing their birds of prey for us to learn about, a night hike, campfire with s'mores, and, of course camping.  It's the perfect event for first-time campers or families who want to stay close to home.  Come join us!



 Campout Carolina! Jamboree (#18556)

Saturday–Sunday, October 17-18 from 3 p.m.-7 a.m.
West Point on the Eno Park – 5101 North Roxboro Road
Join other camping families and individuals for this statewide event that includes camping activities such as storytelling, s’mores and of course, camping overnight in historic West Point on the Eno Park.  Some tents/sleeping bags available for use free of charge, first-come, first-served.
All Ages (Children must be accompanied by an adult.)
CR PC $6.50; CR NPC $7.50 NCR PC $11.25; NCR NPC $12.50

How Can I Tell if the Sky Will be Clear Enough to See the Supermoon Eclipse Tonight?

While the weather looks like it might not cooperate to be able to view the super moon lunar eclipse, there's always a chance.  As Yogi Berra said, “It ain't over till it's over” and that certainly applies to doing anything outdoors.  One just never knows when Mother Nature will wave her magic wand and give beautiful weather.
This is a great link, http://cleardarksky.com/c/DrhmNCkey.html?1 , to see if the conditions will be right this evening, and whether it's worth trekking outside to the best view in your neighborhood.  For all our sake's, I sure hope the clouds part!


Plot of the Super Moon Total Eclipse

What's to Love About Bats? Eno Discovery Camp Kids Can Tell You!

I love bats. It started when I was a child, playing with my friends under the streetlights on warm summer evenings and watching the bats dive to catch mosquitoes and moths.  One evening I tossed a small rock in the air to see if a bat would chase it, and accidentally knocked one to the ground.  As my shock at what I'd done turned into fascination that it didn't look like the bats from horror movies; rather, it looked like a tiny, sweet and furry bear.  Thankfully, I had just stunned it and the little brown bat took off to eat more bugs.  When I was a teenager a bat caught (and lost) a wing on the antenna of my car, giving me the perfect opportunity to explore the structure and function of said wing.

My infatuation was complete in college when I began working at Appalachian State's Camp Broadstone in Valle Crucis, NC and became a guide into the caves of eastern Tennessee, learning awesome facts about how valuable they are to our ecosystem. Did you know bats eat up to 3,000 mosquitoes and moths a day?  Or that they aren't blind, but use a combination of echo-location, sight and memory to navigate the terrain?

Fast forward to 2015, when White Nose Disease has wiped out almost 80% of the brown bat population.  Our staff is so very fortunate to be able to nurture the same love and appreciation in our Eno Discovery Camp kids through environmental stewardship projects.  This summer, we (kids and staff) constructed, stained and erected the bat houses 13 feet high near tree lines and water throughout the park in an effort to help create save roosts for bats.  This is one of the new strategies thought to be a solution to combating the spread of the disease.  If all goes well, we should have bats roosting within 1-2 years, and the Eno should have many fewer mosquitoes– and White Nose disease-free bats!

Campers staining the bat houses

Kids fascinated by concrete being poured

Helping Kenny and Keith hold up the post

What a summer we're having! We're busy, busy with showing the DPR summer camp kids the wonders of nature through canoeing, fishing and nature exploration.  At Durham Parks and Recreation, every summer camp participant is offered the opportunity to touch base with nature through programs offered by our Outdoor Recreation unit, journeying to the Lake Michie recreation area in Durham.  It is quite possibly the most rewarding part of our jobs, seeing faces light up when they discover an Old Man of the Woods, touch moss or feel the glide of a boat on the water for the first time.

Old Man of the Woods 

Checking out a yellow-eyed slider turtle
First Fish!
Moss is super soft.

Smiles at being in a canoe

DPR Adventure Camp 2015

Well, that was a blast! We packed as much adventure as one could have in our week. First, we got to know each other with some light team building, then headed to Lake Michie to play on stand up paddle boards (SUP's) and in kayaks and canoes.  The next morning, we took on the Discovery Course at Bethesda Park and then headed to float down the Eno to beat last week's heat.  Wednesday morning, we left on our mountain adventure, camping at South Mountains State Park near Morganton, NC.  We caved at Worley's Cave in Bluff City, Tennessee, and the next day hiked in the Pisgah National Forest to Upper Creek Falls, where we slid the afternoon away on the natural waterslide at the base of the falls.  All in all, a fantastic week with fun, energetic campers. Can't wait till next year!

First day paddling at Lake Michie–so much to try!

Nimble on the vertical cargo net

Read to climb!

Sliding at Upper Creek Falls
Covered in cave mud at Worley's Cave

Looking for LeRoy's hiding place