The weather may not reflect it, but fall is right around the corner, with its shorter days and profusion of wildflowers in shades of purple and gold.
Here is a list of several events coming to Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center:
• Sept. 21 – International Coastal Cleanup from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Register with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful at www.keeptampabaybeautiful.org/hillsborough-river-coastal-cleanup.
• Sept. 28 – National Public Lands Day from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit www.neefusa.org/npld/camp-bayou-preserve/thatch-hut.
• Oct. 5 – Observe the Moon Night Paddle – 7 to 9 p.m. Paddle the Little Manatee River by the light of the moon — no flashlights. Reserve your canoe or kayak for $25 each, or bring your own for a $5 donation. Call to reserve your spot, 813-641-8545.
• Oct. 12 – Moths and Bats and Owls, Oh my! from 7 to 9 p.m. Enjoy a trail walk while you look for creatures of the night; then gather round the campfire for some conversation and s’mores. Your $5 donation helps pay for supplies. Call to reserve your spot, 813-641-8545.
Cart tours have returned. Stop in any Saturday morning and ask for a ride along the trails.
Third Saturday canoe day tours continue this year. Check the online calendar for days and times. Paddlers should arrive at Camp Bayou by 8:45 a.m. Canoes or kayaks are available for rental for $25 each, or bring your own canoe or kayak for a donation of $5 each. Register for all paddle trips by calling the office at 813-641-8545.
For those who are interested in helping with registered groups, Camp Bayou is looking for volunteers who love the outdoors and want to pass along that passion to others through hands-on activities, walks and canoe tours. Call Becki at 813-641-8545, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form on the website at www.campbayou.org. Volunteers are mainly needed to help teach school groups, Kindergarten through sixth grade, but there are other opportunities as well.
Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is neither a campground nor a summer camp. It was an RV park before the county’s ELAP program purchased the land. It is now open to the general public for day use only. Through volunteers, donations, supporters and grants, the managing nonprofit offers pre-registered programs to schools, youth groups, adult groups and families.
The center is open from Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for passive recreational pursuits such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is free.
Camp Bayou is located three miles south of S.R. 674 at the end of 24th St. SE in Ruskin. For more information, visit its Facebook page, or www.campbayou.org or call 813-641-8545.