Baltimore County News
Cold winter weekend, kids in the house and that constant refrain “There’s nothing to do around here!”
Are you prepared? Because, you know, it is coming. President’s Day weekend is just around the corner. Followed by another winter weekend and another and another…you get the idea.
Baltimore County Recreation and Parks to the rescue.
We put the word out to several of our outstanding naturalists and rangers and came up some fun things to do that are also great teaching moments. Here are some super places to visit, recipes for the birdies, winter scavenger hunt ideas and fun stuff to make that holiday weekend one to remember.
Saturday, February 18 Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. Tracks and Trails Detectives. 1:30 – 3 p.m. Winter animals are out and about even in winter’s cold. Learn about the clues they leave and join us on the trails to practice your animal detective skills. Dress for the weather. Children ages 5 – 10 with an adult. $2 per child; $5 family rate. Register in advance. 410-887-1081
Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 Marshy Point Nature Center. Maple Sugar Time. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. How do you get sap from a tree; how is maple sugar made; who made maple syrup and sugar? Join us for this ongoing weekend program where we’ll tap a tree, taste sap and boil up maple syrup. Tree tapping hikes every hour until 3 p.m. Free. 410-887-2817
Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 Lake Roland. Bird Extravaganza. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Live birds, crafts, birding hikes, campfire, hot drinks and kids’ games. All these great activities as you search for birds in the “Great Backyard Bird Count”. No pre-registration, no cost and open to everyone. 410-887-4156
Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 Oregon Ridge Nature Center. Maple Sugaring Weekend. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come on down to our Sugar Shack to learn the magic behind the fascinating process of making maple syrup. Take an invigorating guided hike to the sugar bush to tap a tree for sap. Then, taste maple syrup and sugar. Hikes on the hour. Sugar on the snow demos at 12:30 and 3:45. Sugar time activities are free. Pure Maple Candy and Syrup will be sold in the Nature Center. 410-887-1815
Saturday, February 18 Cromwell Valley Park. Dead Leaves, Cheese, Butter and Kimchi. 1 to 2:30 p.m. What do they all have in common? Fermentation. Learn how fermentation allows our planet to work and then make your own fermenter. Bring a one gallon jug. $3 members; $5 non-members. Space is limited. Ages 8 and up. 410-887-2503
Sunday, February 19 Cromwell Valley Park. Tracks on T-Shirts. 1 to 3 p.m. Learn to identify animals by the clues they leave behind and make your very own animal track t-shirt. Bring a light color t-shirt from home. $2 members; $4 non-members. All ages. 410-887-2503
Monday, February 20 Lake Roland. School’s Out Day. 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Unplug the kids and let them spend the day exploring nature at the park. Bring lunch, snack, and water. Ages 6-12. $25 per child for the day from 8:30 to 2:30. Additional $10 for extended hours from 2:30 to 4:30. Registration required. 410-887-4156
Fun for any weekend
How about a day at one of our parks and nature centers. Click here for a list of Baltimore County parks that can fill your day with fun and adventure.
Here are some nature projects if staying home or near home might be more your style.
- Project Feederwatch, a citizen science effort to record the numbers and types of birds that come to backyard feeders in February.
- Here's a winter birdfeeder kids can make.
- The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a fun winter scavenger hunt.
So there you have it – your weekend is all planned. Like vegetables, don’t tell your kids that it’s good for them too!
By Michael Schneider, Baltimore County Department of Recreation & Parks
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Park
This summer, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks is the “anti-bored” department of Baltimore County. Plenty to do, lots of smiles, a great source of vitamin D (sunshine) and huge doses of fun!
It really depends on what you want to do this summer – are you the type that loves to be on the trails? Maybe you’re the kind of person that wants to be out in the fields. Or maybe it’s camp? Are you the kind that loves to learn firsthand? Do you want to be on the water in your canoe or kayak? Do you love to gaze at the stars? Do you love music, wine tasting, trout fishing? Don’t mind getting a little dirty. Bugs don’t bug you. And, perhaps the beach, one much closer than “downyocean,” gets your motor running…
In other words, summer is a time to explore, enjoy and relish – right here at home in Baltimore County.
Where? Well, let’s start with some of our many parks…
Over at Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum this summer you can sit back and enjoy the “Jazz Concert Series” featuring three outstanding performances. Nature study more your thing? Then let our staff and volunteers share the excitement, beauty and serenity of birding, flowers, moss, trees, blue moons, snakes, hikes and astronomy. Scavenger Hunts, basket making, a Colonial Fair, science through the eyes and experiences of Benjamin Banneker himself are all a part of the fun this summer.
And then, there’s Oregon Ridge Park and Oregon Ridge Nature Center where you could do something different every day. At the Nature Center, you can a part of Jamberry Making, geocatching, picnicking under the stars, camping out, Mud Day (dirty fun!), blue moon night hiking, stream searching, butterfly talks, treasure hunts and so much more. Over at the other side of the park, there’s the ever popular Star Spangled Spectacular featuring the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and fireworks (July 3 and 4th); and the Hot August Music Festival (August 15). And there’s just so much more to do throughout your summer.
Robert E. Lee Park features a summer to remember. Serpentine Hiking (June 20); The Great American Campout (June 26); Nature Sculpture for Kids (July 25), Mud Day (can’t get away from that dirty fun!); Bark with a Park Ranger (August 15) – a “ruff” night hike with our Park Rangers; and Cricket Crawl Campfires, Fairies and Dragons and all other kinds of events and activities that are cool enough to keep you sweaty, wet, in your boots and in your canoes, on the water, on the trails and by the campfire. Too much to list in a blog, too much to miss even one moment.
At Cromwell Valley Park this summer there’s the makings of some delicious, dirty, buggy and fishy kind of fun. Guest speakers will talking about black bears, historic ships, backyard bees just to name a few discussions. Then, there’s program that are sure to pique your interest: Discovering Dragonflies, Fun with Ladybugs (who knew?!), Wild Edible Plant Pizza, Amazing Amphibians, Raspberry Round-up, Luminous Lighting Bugs. Those amazing folks over at Cromwell Valley Park don’t lack for imagination – or great topics. So much to do, you’ve got to give it a try.
Now at Marshy Point Nature Center they too, do their best to capture your attention and pull you in with some pretty amazing stuff. How about the likes of Full Strawberry Moon Canoe Trip, Edible Insects and the Pizza Pie, Aw Shucks and Sharks in the Bay? But the real draw to Marshy Point has simply got to be the beauty of the place. Trails, nature center, fishing on the dock, the neighboring ospreys, canoeing. There’s just too much to mention, but you’ll never come close to being bored!
The above list of locations and destinations are really just a start. Fishing at Loch Raven Fishing Center; Rocky Point Beach and Park where the swimming and relaxing are easy (not to mention the picnicking, playgrounds and sand volleyball!). And did you know there are actually over 200 parks of all sizes and types throughout our beautiful county? Go ahead, try this link to find a park close by your home.
There are beautiful hiking trails for the beginner through advanced hikers. Lots of folks aren’t even aware of the great Trail Finder feature on the County’s website – where you can search for a walking path or hiking trail near you.
Plus, check out this comprehensive listing of summer camps, playgrounds and programs for your campers this summer. The great thing is, there are affordable summer camp options throughout the County that offer convenient times and great supervision.
And you can’t forget your local recreation councils and offices. It is pretty certain that they have something special for your community this summer. Neighborhood events like fireworks, classes, sports and places for informal gathering and important and growing friendships.
So, there you have it, summer’s covered for you by your friends at Baltimore County Recreation and Parks. All you have to do is cover yourself with sunscreen and have a great time. Like we said, no boredom for your summer of 2015 – only great times!
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Park
When someone asks us about the “value” of volunteers over in Recreation and Parks, we have to respond in a couple of ways - about a gazillion dollars-worth and immeasurable! The truth of the matter is, we couldn’t run our department without our incredible and indispensable volunteers.
Now, don’t get us wrong. Without our incomparable professional/paid staff, there’d be no Baltimore County Recreation and Parks. While professional staff facilitates and provides guidance, it is our volunteers who do most of the programming, staff individual programs, and handle a myriad of details that allow the 46 Recreation and Nature Councils to run so successfully throughout our beautiful county. It really does take a team to make these programs and sites run – professional staff and volunteers.
Now, here’s a number that will knock your socks off… more than 23,000. That’s approximately how many volunteers we currently have running the councils, coaching athletics, assisting therapeutic programs, keeping time at a game, offering dancers and artists that ever important outlet to hone and share their skills, coordinating leagues, chairing programs, raising funds, overseeing gardens, keeping score, leading hikes and more. The list of volunteer jobs just keeps going and growing.
So, who are our volunteers? Your neighbors, your friends, that college kid down the street. Our volunteers are people like Frank “Skip” Hammond, a ten plus year volunteer who is President of the Edgemere-Sparrows Point Recreation Council. Mr. Hammond sums up the volunteer experience with his comment, “being a recreation council volunteer is well worth the time and effort because you are able to see the positive changes in the community youth from their involvement in the programs your Rec Council provides. It is not about your Rec achievements, your Rec titles or awards, it always first and foremost about providing the best and most diverse opportunities for the kids.”
What do our volunteers all have in common? They are there for the program participants and they work to make a difference. They want to help youngsters develop through recreation, have fun, and they demonstrate the importance of giving back to the community.
You can’t pay enough to get folks like our volunteers. It is out of the kindness of their hearts, their willingness to make that difference. They seek out opportunities to build a smile, teach a skill and share the joys of developing community through recreation – that’s what our volunteers are all about!
So, we ask the question again…Who are our volunteers? Could it be you? The following is a link to all the recreation offices throughout the county. You’re almost certain to find something near your home or office in our county. Just visit our Recreation and Parks Volunteer page.
Just something to think about – 23,000, plus YOU. How’s it feel to know you can make a difference?!