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Discover Camp Bayou Oct. 26

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image Camp Bayou, at the end of 24th Street SE in Ruskin, will be holding an open house on Saturday, October 26. Photo Mitch Traphagen

At one time an RV park, Camp Bayou is living proof of nature’s incredible ability to reclaim her beauty.

By Mitch Traphagen
Camp Bayou, a Hillsborough County park located in Ruskin, is holding an open house on Saturday, October 26, to showcase the park’s many incredible resources.

“Our upcoming Open House gives folks a chance to enjoy this great fall weather in the outdoors while learning a little about all the wonders of nature all around us,” said Dolly Cummings of Camp Bayou. “In addition, we’ve coordinated with some great October themes to provide additional activities including Florida history, gender equity in the sciences and of course Halloween. It will be a fun morning sharing nature in our community.”

The theme for the event is Fearlessly Facing the Forest — showcasing a variety of forest inhabitants as well as highlighting the wildlife that can be found in your own backyard.

The open house includes the following events:

- The Creature Scavenger Hunt will take guests on a wildlife safari through the trails and exhibits at Camp Bayou. Those who complete the Hunt will receive a small prize.

- The Viva Florida 500 (Florida history) activity asks visitors to think about what they would have on their 160 homestead acres, or make a craft using a tree cookie as a memento in your life history. Native Camp tours will be ongoing throughout the morning.

- Ada Day celebrates female scientists. Visitors will learn about a few women who have careers in the natural sciences, then make a mask or hat of a related animal for the Species Walk at 11:30 a.m. Wear a costume or make a mask to join the half hour walk along the trail.

- Help create a cascade of falling leaves while learning to identify the trees around Camp Bayou.

- The new Little Free Library shelf will make its debut at the Open House. The idea is to encourage reading in nature by offering books in an open-air location. Participants can take a book and/or leave a book at the information table during the event, and then the shelf will be moved to its permanent location in the Birding 101 shelter.

Birding 101 will encourage reading in nature.

- Other non-profits, such as Florida Public Archaeology Network, Girl Scouts of West-Central Florida, Cub Scout Pack 662, Conserve it Forward, Eagle Audubon Society, Little Manatee River State Park and the Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum will also be offering nature-based activities.

The schedule for the day is as follows:
9 a.m.: Photo Trail Walk w/ Becki; join National Geographic Great Nature Photo Project: www.greatnatureproject.org.
9:30 a.m.: Instructables: Let’s make... rain barrels w/ Frank; learn how to make a rain barrel from found containers or make a donation to receive a complete kit.
10 a.m.: Birds of Prey w/ Pat Bradley; Boyd Hill volunteer.
10:30 a.m.: Are you Weather Ready? With Rick Davis of the Ruskin National Weather Station/NOAA office.
11 a.m.: Little Free Library with Ann; story-time circle (geared for elementary age) introduces Camp Bayou’s Little Free Library — take a book, leave a book (for all ages).
11:30 a.m.: Species Walk with Dolly; make an animal mask in the morning or wear your Halloween costume, then join others in a guided tour along the trails and through the old fishing cabins.
Noon: National Food Day Buffet; good-for-you-food is on the menu: fresh smoked turkey, side, salad, and beverage, for just $7 per person.
12:30 p.m.: National Neighborwoods Month Tree Planting. Replant trees to replace diseased oak that provided shade in lawn area.

All activities tables and booths will remain open until 1 p.m. Lunch is made possible in part by Sweetbay Supermarket in Ruskin.

Camp Bayou, at one time an RV park, is living proof of nature’s incredible ability to reclaim her beauty. Bordered by the Little Manatee River, the park offers hiking trails, historical displays, a learning center and the Paleo Preserve fossil museum. The facility is open year-around offering activities or simply a quiet respite in one of natural Florida’s undiscovered gems. 

The Camp Bayou Learning Center is managed by the non-profit Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery, Inc. in a public-private partnership with the non-profit Ruskin Community Development Foundation and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Camp Bayou is located off State Road 674 at the south end of 24th Street SE in Ruskin. For more information visit www.campbayou.org or call 813-641-8545.

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