Category Archives: Kids

Next week, Take a Child Outside

In 2005, author Richard Louv came out with his groundbreaking “Last Child in the Woods,” an account of how our kids have gone from being weaned in the wild to garrisoned in the great room in less than a generation.

Within a year, Liz Baird, director of school programs for the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, had launched Take A Child Outside Week, an effort to ensure that for at least one week a year, kids had ample opportunity to play outdoors. By 2010, her effort had been embraced by more than 400 partners — various agencies with a stake in kids, the outdoors or both — in all 50 states and four foreign countries.

At the time, Baird said: “I recently compared it to a ball rolling down hill. We just gave it a push and it continues to spin faster and faster. I now have people seeking me out to become a partner.”

Today, Take A Child Outside Week, which begins on Sunday, Sept. 24, and runs through Sept. 30, continues to flourish. Hundreds of opportunities to get your kids outdoors are planned in North Carolina alone. For instance, in North Carolina’s State Parks alone, you’ll find:

  • Painting the Mountain, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson: Using tempera paints and brushes, kids spend an hour painting scenes from atop Mount Jefferson. All supplies are free.
  • Canoe Excursion, Monday, Sept. 25, 9 a.m., Lake James State Park, Nebo: Paddle the Paddy’s Creek Area with a ranger.
  • Hike Jude’s Gap Historic Trail, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m., Chimney Rock State Park, Chimney Rock: two-mile hike that’s part of the Carolina Land Conservancy’s hiking badge program.
  • Fishing Occoneechee, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m., Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area, Hillsborough: Learn to bait a hook and cast; all equipment provided.
  • Natural Side of Fort Macon, Thursday, Sept. 28, 10 a.m., Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach: Leisurely hike exploring beach and trail at the fort.
  • Mammals of Stone Mountain, Friday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap: Join a ranger to learn about the animals that call Stone Mountain home.
  • Sunset Hike, Saturday, Sept. 30, 6:45 p.m., Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap: A mile and a half hike topped by sunset atop Stone Mountain.
  • read more

    This weekend: Get wet, go high 

    Mount Jefferson (photo courtesy Jason Barnette, Southeastern Traveler)

    Another hot, summery weekend is on tap, which means you have two choices for outdoor fun: get wet or go high.

    =&0=&

    Not that you need a reason to visit the Great Dismal Swamp, but if you did …

    Saturday, join a ranger on an intimate Summer Paddle of the Dismal Swamp Canal at Dismal Swamp State Park north of Elizabeth City. Everything you need — boat, paddle, PFD, basic instruction — is provided. That last part — basic instruction — should be even more incentive for those of you who’ve never paddled.

    About the “intimate” part: though the trip is free, it’s limited to eight boats. Pre-register — before it’s too late.

    Logistics: Summer Paddle, Saturday, July 8, 10 a.m., Dismal Swamp State Park, South Mills. Free, but pre-registration is required because there are only eight boats, by calling 252.771.6593.

    Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny and a temperature of 84 at 10 a.m.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Too short of notice? This summer paddle will be repeated next Saturday, July 15. More info here.

     

    =&1=&

    Too hot for a hike? How about a boat race — using tiny boats you craft out of recycled materials?

    First, at Saturday morning’s Build-a-Boat at Eno River State Park, you’ll craft a boat out of recycled materials — bring your own or they’ll have some on hand. Then, you’ll race against other boat builders in the cool waters of the Eno, at Fews Ford.

    Logistics: Build-a-Boat, Saturday, July 8, 9 a.m., Eno River State Park (meet at the Piper Cox House at the park’s Fews Ford Access. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Sunny, with a 9 a.m. temperature of 79.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday morning’s Build-a-Boat? The event repeats Saturday, July 29 at noon. More info here.

    =&2=&

    D’ja ever wonder about the weather on top of a mountain? About the highest wind gusts ever recorded? Lowest temperature? Most snow?

    Likewise, who hasn’t wondered how they record that information? Saturday is your chance to have these questions answered at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area. Setting out from the picnic area, you’ll make the short clime to MJ’s 4,683-foot summit, home to a North Carolina Climate Office data collection tower, where the mountain will reveal her climatological secrets during the Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower program.

    Logistics: Mount Jefferson’s Climate Tower, Saturday, July 8, 2 p.m., Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, West Jefferson. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny with a high of 76.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Can’t make Saturday’s hike, but intrigued all the same by Mount Jefferson? Then consider the Rock Outcrop Hike at the park on Saturday, July 29. More info here.

    * * *

    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

    Coast

    CapeFearCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
    Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

    NCCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

    North Carolina Coast Host
    Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

    This Week Magazine
    Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

    Mountains

    Asheville Citizen-Times
    From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

    Blue Ridge Outdoors
    Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

    The Mountain Times read more

    This weekend: Hop like a bunny — there’s lots going on

    The view north from Elk Knob

    Hey, like the headline says: find your adventure (below) and hop to it.

    =&0=&

    Fess up: how many plastic bags of shells to you have from beach foraging sessions past? Lots, no doubt.

    Did you know there are things you can do with those shells? Crafty things, things you might not have thought possible that you could use to spruce up your home or office? Better still, for those long week beach vacations, things that could keep the kids busy for an afternoon or two.

    Learn “about some of the unique beach findings and what crafty ways can be applied with them” on a free clinic at Hammocks Beach State Park Sunday afternoon. Come before the 2 p.m. start, gather some fresh stuff, then discover how to craft a creation with it.

    You will get a chance to build your own craft to take home.

    Registration is required by contacting the park office: 910-326-4881.

    Logistics: Coastal Craft Series, Sunday, April 16, 2 p.m., Hammocks Beach State Park, Swansboro.  Free, but registration is required, by calling 910.326.4881. More info here.

    Sunday forecast: High of 80, sunny.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Nature Designs Art Festival and Earth Day Celebration, April 22, Raven Rock State Park, Lillington.

    =&1=&

    Are you a citizen scientist? Then use your skills for the forces of good over the next several days by representing the Triangle in the nationwide City Nature Challenge.

    Says the sponsoring N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, “This competition pits several American cities against each other to see who can document the most biodiversity on the iNaturalist app over a 5-day period. We’re going up against cities that are a lot bigger than we are (Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and others), but North Carolina’s amazing biodiversity and the great urban wildlife we see every day can help us win!”

    It won’t be easy. “We likely need over 15,000 submissions to have a shot of taking home the gold, so we need YOUR help snapping photos of Triangle Area plants, animals, or fungi, April 14-18, and submitting them to iNaturalist by April 30. We’ve got prizes for the top three local contributors as a thank you, too!”

    Intrigued? See Logistics, below, for how you can participate.

    Logistics: City Nature Challenge, April 14-18, Triangle area. For more info, visit here or call 919.707.9800.

    Weekend forecast: Highs around 80 under sunny skies.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Walk, Run Bike for Umstead, Saturday, April 22, Umstead Coalition fundraiser for Umstead State Park in Raleigh. More info here.

    =&2=&

    We have a thing for Elk Knob State Park, and that thing is the view from atop Elk Knob. From its 5,520-foot summit you can see a wide swath of the northern North Carolina mountains and appreciate the unusual northern hardwood forest that dominates the region. It’s an especially great place for a guided hike, which is the plan Saturday, when a park ranger leads a 1-mile hike and discusses the park’s natural history along the way.

    Logistics: Nature Hike, Saturday, 2 p.m., April 15, Elk Knob State Park, Todd. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: High of 70 with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon, May 6, Waynesville. More info here.

    * * *

    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

    Coast

    CapeFearCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
    Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

    NCCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

    North Carolina Coast Host
    Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

    This Week Magazine
    Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).

    Mountains

    Asheville Citizen-Times
    From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

    Blue Ridge Outdoors
    Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

    The Mountain Times read more

    This weekend: Saturday, rather than Sunday 

    Go, kids, go!

    Saturday sees a return to seasonable temperatures and sun, suitable for a day of adventure. Sunday … not so much. Unless you’re going skiing, check out our Saturday recommendations.

    =&0=&

    One of the big struggles of modern parenting is motivating our kids to move. Back in the day, it was no problem: you could stay inside and watch one of the four channels (three of which were airing mom’s soaps) on the Zenith, or you could go outside and get into mischief. Nearly all of us went the mischief route.

    Today, there are so many more reasons not to get into outdoor mischief, thanks to our assorted electronic devices. It’s so easy to spend the day getting lost in a world of faux mischief that, shoot, who has time for the real thing?

    We’re guessing that a bit of history in the making in the Wilmington area this weekend could change that for your brood. Saturday and Sunday, at Brunswick Nature Park in Leland, the fledgling N.C. Interscholastic Cycling League will hold its first-ever mountain bike race. Twenty-five teams from across the state are expected to compete on the five-mile network, kids in grades 6 through 12, some competing on school teams, some on “composite” teams made up of kids from various schools, including home schoolers.

    Bring your kids, watch the action. Worried about your kid getting hooked on a sport you can’t afford? Don’t be. The NCICL offers scholarships to riders in need, and has alliances in the bike industry (take a bow, Trek) that can help make mountain biking affordable. Remember how transformative it was to tool around the neighborhood on your BMX bike as a kid? Imagine that feeling amplified riding through the woods.

    Logistics: Race 1: N.C. Interscholastic Cycling League, Saturday and Sunday, March 11-12, New Brunswick Nature Park, Winnabow (which is near Leland, which is outside Wilmington). More info here.

    Weekend forecast: Sunny and 55 on Saturday, rainy and 55 on Sunday.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: N.C. Birding Trail Hike, Thursday, March 16, Halyburton Park, Wilmington. More info here.

    =&1=&

    Last fall’s wild fires in the mountains raised questions about the devastating effect they would have on the places we love to visit: Chimney Rock, South Mountains State Park, parts of the Nantahala.

    True, fires of this magnitude can have devastating consequences. But fire in its natural place is vital for the forest, crucial, in fact, to the forest’s health. Certain flora rely on periodic fires to reproduce, certain fauna rely on it to replenish their food supplies. The role of fire is complex.

    Saturday, though, you can start making sense of the role fire plays on the Fire Ecology Hike at Pilot Mountain State Park. There, controlled burns have been employed to replicate the natural order of burns; join a ranger to understand how this seemingly contradictory situation — fire breeding life — works.

    Logistics: Fire Ecology Hike, Saturday, March 11, 2 p.m., Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. More info here.

    Saturday forecast: Mostly sunny, high of 49.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: First Day of Spring Hike, Monday, March 20, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. More info here.

    =&2=&

    If you haven’t made it to the mountains to ski yet this winter and had doubts that you’d be able to in light of the warm weather of late, the weather gods have issued a reprieve. Cold weather and snow return to the mountains starting Saturday and lasting into midweek, making mid-March skiing a reality. That is, for those resorts that choose to capitalize on the returning cold and crank up their snow machines.

    At this point, say our friends at SkiSoutheast.com, only Snowshoe, Appalachian and Sugar Mountain appear committed to more snowmaking this late in the season. Keep your dial tuned to the aforementioned SkiSoutheast.com for the latest details on who’s blowing how much snow where.

    Logistics: Get the latest ski report at SkiSoutheast.com

    Weekend forecast: Cold, with snow possible.

    * * *

    Looking ahead: Flight of the American Woodcock, Saturday, March 18, New River State Park. More info here.

    * * *

    Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

    Coast

    CapeFearCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

    Coastal Guide
    Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

    Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
    Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.

    NCCoast.com
    Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

    North Carolina Coast Host read more