By LOIS KINDLE
School starts Aug. 10, and there’s not much time for kids to have a fun-filled day outdoors. And what better place to do that than at Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center’s upcoming Back to School – Back to Nature event?
It’s set to take place Saturday, July 30, from 9 a.m. to noon, at 4140 24th St. SE, Ruskin. School-aged children are invited to participate in a variety of environmentally friendly activities, while learning about nature and collecting school supplies at the same time. Admission and parking are free.
Reservations can be made at www.campbayou.org. They’re not required but strongly requested, because it helps organizers know how many school supplies will be needed for the event. In past events, more than 100 children showed up.
The following organizations will be on hand to provide lots of fun, educational experiences and information:
• Suncoast Youth Conservation Center.
• Florida Forest Service.
• Manatee Viewing Center.
• Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
• Little Manatee River State Park.
• Girl Scout Troop 30349.
• The Raptor Center of Tampa Bay.
• Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center.
• Paleo Preserve Fossil Museum.
• Boy Scout Troop 3891.
When kids stop by each of their tables, they’ll learn something new and get a free school-supply item.
All children who register also receive a free ticket for entry in a drawing every 30 minutes for a larger item, such as a backpack, journal or canvas tote bag stoked with even more supplies. They must be present to collect their prize.
There’s always a need for additional school supplies or cash to purchase them. If you’d like to help, donations can be dropped off at Camp Bayou between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, or a pick-up can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org/.
Back to School – Back to Nature will also have a teacher-exchange table where educators can donate their unused resources and/or exchange them for others they need. Teachers who identify themselves will get a special goodie bag, and they’ll receive information about Camp Bayou’s teacher workshops and field trips for students.
Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center’s four walking trails, Paleo Preserve fossil pit and museum, Native American campsite and butterfly habitat will be open during the event.
“It’s important for kids to spend time outdoors in nature, instead of always being indoors connected to electronics,” said Dolly Cummings, Camp Bayou Learning Center director. “Back to School – Back to Nature gives them the opportunity to experience their environment, learn about nature and get some free school supplies.
“Children can’t appreciate nature if they don’t experience it,” she added. “Part of our mission is to promote an appreciation for and better understanding of our natural resources.”
Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It’s operated as a public-private partnership between Hillsborough County Conservation & Environmental Lands Management and Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery Inc. and is part of Hillsborough County’s 200-acre Camp Bayou Nature Preserve.
The learning center is open Thursday through Sunday for trail hiking and activities, like picnicking, canoeing or photographing and drawing birds and wildlife, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are permitted.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.campbayou.org/, email email@example.com or call 813-641-8545.