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Art&Seek Jr: Happy Hiking Trails to You!

by Therese Powell 3 Jul 2012 10:53 AM

Check out the great outdoors with your little camper this summer.


Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

Happy Campers

Rose turned 7 in May, but the birthday party negotiations began way back in February. As any child old enough to talk will tell you, next to Christmas, birthdays (and the corresponding party) are the single biggest deal of the year. The kid calendar revolves around it. I started the dealing with the usual proposals of princess, skating and bounce house themes, but Rose quickly threw them out in favor of a backyard camping party. Huh? Yes, that’s right. Instead of princesses, pony rides or even bowling, what Rose really wanted was to build a fire, pitch a tent and make s’mores. I have to admit, I tried to talk her out of it. Besides the anxiety about the weather,  I had  my doubts that the 15 little girls invited would share Rose’s enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Princesses, pouf and everything sparkly is the trend these days. Boy, was I wrong. Rose’s friends didn’t just have fun, they threw themselves into the deep end of the camp-out pool with gusto. And why not? More than a few family vacations this summer will feature the winning combination of tents, campfires and s’mores. It’s fun! If you and yours aren’t planning a get-away to Jellystone Park this summer, here are a couple of places for your lil’ camper to enjoy the great outdoors.

No telling what you'll find at the bottom of that pond!

The Trinity River Aububon Center offers an Adventure Trekkers Camp for explorers anxious to leave the big city behind and find their inner Rambo. In this five-day camp (which runs from 9 to 3 daily) children ages 10 to 12 will learn outdoor survival skills like building a survival shelter, using a compass and building a campfire. Kids can also fish or paddle the ponds in a kayak or canoe, hike the four miles of trails and create a nature journal.

The Nature Camps at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary are just the ticket for those kids interested in native wildlife. Children ages 5 to 14 will take daily guided nature walks, meet animal ambassadors and investigate nature-themed topics. Aspiring wildlife artists can follow in the footsteps of great artists such as Audubon and Monet and draw directly from nature and live animals. There are also opportunities to go behind-the-scenes with animal ambassadors and learn what it takes to take care of wildlife.

If you have younger kids and are looking for something tamer, the Heard also offers the Water Wonders Family Fun Mini-Camp on July 5. In this fun mini-camp, you and the kids can take a hike through the wetlands and spend some time using nets to see what you can catch in and around the water. And you’ll use hand lenses and microscopes to find out what lives in a drop of water. There’s also a fossil hunting camp on July 6, during which kids find out about how fossils are made, some local geological history and then go on a real fossil hunt.

Only seven more weeks of summer, folks. Get out there and enjoy it while you can!

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your time at camp or outdoors or clue us in to your ideas for quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].