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:
|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|
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!
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!).
|Along the Buffalo Trail at West Point on the Eno Park|
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
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! Jamboree (#18556)
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|
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|
|Moss is super soft.|
|Smiles at being in a canoe|
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|