Take a Child Outside Week, an initiative that started right here in the Triangle at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and now is celebrated around the country and beyond, runs Sept. 24 to Sept. 30.
The week, inspired by Richard Louv's 2005 book "Last Child in the Woods," encourages adults to take kids outside so they can explore and develop an appreciation for the natural world. Liz Baird of the natural sciences museum launched the week about seven years ago.
The week's official websites offers some activities and ideas for exploring the outdoors with kids. Check the website for more information.
But many parks and other sites around the Triangle have special programs planned as well to make nature exploration easier for all of us.
Wake County parks will host a big slate of activities during the week. Click here for a list of all of the events planned between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30. Here's a sampling:
- Crowder District Park in Apex will host a Track Out Days: Wild Frontier camp from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 24 to Sept. 26. Learn how to build a fire, churn butter, and make music with a rubber band banjo at Crowder District Park. This program is for students in kindergarten through 5th grade. The fee is $12 per day or $30 for all three Track Out Days, including the mill tour. Registration is required. To register, call 919-662-2850. Crowder District Park is located at 4709 Ten-Ten Road, Apex.
- Lake Crabtree County Park in Morrisville will host Here, Fishy, Fishy, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 26. Catch fish and other aquatic wildlife using a variety of methods at Lake Crabtree County Park. Participants will observe and identify the critters they catch, and learn basic fish anatomy and life history. Registration is required. To register, call 919-460-2723. Meet at the Floodplain. Lake Crabtree is located at 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville. Free.
- The American Tobacco Trail in New Hill will host Trail Treks: Fox Run, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 26. Discover the fascinating world of foxes and learn about the two different species that live along the American Tobacco Trail. Meet at the New Hill Parking Area. For information, call 919-387-2117. American Tobacco Trail is located at 1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Road, New Hill. Free.
- Harris Lake County Park in New Hill will host Park After Dark from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Sept. 27. End the summer with an evening at Park After Dark at Harris Lake County Park and enjoy a night of fishing, night hikes, star-gazing, flashlight games or roasting marshmallows. Bring a flashlight, camp chair, water bottle and dress for the weather. All persons 16 and older who wish to fish must have a license. Fishing poles will be provided if you do not have one. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. For information, call 919-387-4342. Harris Lake County Park is located at 2112 County Park Drive, New Hill. Free.
Raleigh parks also will be busy hosting activities for families during Take a Child Outside Week. Click here for a list of all of the activities and locations. And here's a sampling:
- Durant Nature Park will host its regular Thursday morning Wee Walkers program from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Sept. 26. For ages 3 to 5. Join others on an easy paced hike around the park. This is a great opportunity for adults and little ones to meet each other and explore what's happening in nature. There is no fee for this program. Please pre-register four days prior to the event online. Class meets at the Durant Nature Park Office. Call 919-870-2871.
- Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve will host a Nature Play Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 27, for all ages. Head to the park anytime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to enjoy our latest ideas for playing in nature. Children of all ages, as well as the young at heart, are welcome to join us for imaginative play in a natural setting. Dress up like your favorite bug, make a fort out of natural materials, fly a kite, make mud pies, and more. Each nature play day will have new play opportunities, so you can join us for one event or come to them all! We'll provide the materials and guidance to get you started on a playful adventure. Dress for the weather and be ready to get messy! Free. Call the park at 919-996-6764 for more information.
- And Durant Nature Park will hold a family camp out from 6 p.m., Sept. 27, to 11 a.m., Sept. 28. For ages 6 and up. Families gather to form a group and experience an overnight complete with a naturalist led night hike, s'mores, a light breakfast, and time for fishing. Bring a tent or borrow a cot and sleep in an Adirondack shelter. Your gear will be hauled by vehicle down to the primitive, lakeside campsite that we will call home for the night! The fee for this event is $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Please pre-register four days prior to the event. Call Durant Nature Park at 919-870-2871 for details.
The N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill will host a free lunchtime lecture from noon to 1 p.m., Sept. 26, which will examine and critique Louv's theories. This one is really best for adults and older kids who can sit through an hour-long lecture, but worth noting. Click here for more information and to register.
JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh will host daily Take a Child Outside Events, including a storytime, scavenger hunt and more. Check the website for all the details.
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will host two events on Sept. 28. Both are free and open to the public. The first is at Lake Wheeler just south of Raleigh from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 28. The second is at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 28. Activities for each event vary but include fishing, archery, live animals, outdoor cooking, kayaking and more. Click here for more information.
And the natural science museum's own Prairie Ridge Ecostation in west Raleigh will mark the week and celebrate a new nature playspace with a big event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sept. 28. Pre-registration is not required. All ages are welcome. Kids under 16 must be with an adult. It's free.
I'll have more about the Nature PlaySpace next week. And, don't forget, that Prairie Ridge now has a weekly Thursday morning storytime.