Monday, April 13, 2015

Learn Something New at the Creative Arts Center

The Creative Arts Center in Thompson Park features pottery & ceramics studios, as well as classrooms for painting, drawing, and other craft activities. At just under 12,000 square feet, the Creative Arts Center serves as an artistic outlet for county residents. Amenities include:
  • Four open studio spaces (handicap accessible)
  • Talented, highly trained instructors
  • 20 pottery wheels
  • 12 electric kilns and two Raku kilns
  • Glaze mixing facility
  • Greenware room and slip casting facility
  • Between 2,000-3,000 ceramic molds
With about 2/3 of its space devoted to pottery and ceramics, the Creative Arts Center hosts several sessions of classes each year for all levels of students.  Instructors provide guidance according to each student’s ability. Classes include Beginner’s Wheel Pottery, Open Pottery Workshop, Handbuilding, and Raku Pottery. Classes are also held in ceramics, with students choosing from an inventory of pre-cast items. Check out our pottery/ceramic classes for children and our classes for adults. Many works of art created by students and instructors can be viewed in display cases that line the entrance of the building.

Reflecting the diverse interests of county residents, the Center also offers a rich array of craft classes for adults & children as well as drawing, painting, knitting, crocheting, origami, jewelry-making, basket-making, holiday crafts, and more.Youngsters can enjoy drawing, cartooning, painting, holiday-themed programs & summer camps. Activities have also been specially designed for home-schooled children and there are also a variety of birthday parties for youngsters.

Ready to learn something new and have fun? Check out these upcoming programs happening at the Creative Arts Center:
  • Creative Clay Time on Tuesdays from April 14-May 5 for ages 4-6, with adult. You and your child will have a blast learning about ceramic arts while creating real pottery. Each week you'll work on a new work of art from clay. Pre-registration and fee required.
  • KidzArt Imagine & Explore on Thursdays from April 16-May 21 for ages 6-11. Kids who enjoy drawing will love this art class that encourages problem solving, creative thinking and self-confidence. While sharpening our drawing skills we'll also experiment with watercolor, acrylic paint, air-dry clay, and pastel. Pre-registration and fee required.
  • TeenzArt on Thursdays, April 16-May 21 for ages 12-16. Teens will enjoy challenging design projects that push their creative potential to the max during this drawing based class that also delves into watercolor, collage, pastel, and acrylic painting. Pre-registration and fee required.
  • Basic Drawing on Wednesdays, April 22-May 27 for adults. This beginners level class will teach you the primary elements of drawing through various techniques with pencil and charcoal. Pre-registration and fee required.
And don't miss out on this brand new exciting event coming this May! 
(Click on the photo for more details.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Walk Down the Aisle in a Park

Thompson Park, Lincroft
Every couple wants their wedding to be the picture of perfection. Gorgeous attire, great weather, happy guests, and of course the perfect wedding location. Did you know that some of the most picturesque wedding ceremony locations can be found right in your Monmouth County parks?

Many of your favorite park sites are available to host your romantic day. Looking for a wedding on the sands of the Jersey Shore? Perhaps surrounded by the serenity of a wooded backdrop? Or would you prefer the backdrop of a beautiful rose garden? There's no shortage of amazing park locations for you to celebrate your very special day. From the sandy shores of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park to the garden backdrop of Deep Cut Gardens, the Park System wants to be a part of the wedding of your dreams. Already have your wedding location picked out? Park locations are also available to use for your wedding photograph sessions as well. For more information on make the parks part of your perfect day, call 732-842-4000, ext. 4382.

Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch
Are you currently planning your dream wedding? We want to make one couple's dreams come true this year during our "Say 'I Do' in the Parks" Facebook contest. All you have to do is submit a photo of you and your sweetheart within one of our Monmouth County parks and tell us a little about yourselves. Submissions are due by no later that 12 p.m. on Monday, April 13. Starting Tuesday, April 14, we'll let our Facebook followers choose the winner. The winning couple will receive the opportunity to host their wedding ceremony at one of our select county parks.
Last year's "Say 'I Do' in the Parks" winners

Have you enjoyed your wedding ceremony in one of our beautiful parks? Show everyone your perfect park wedding day by posting your photo on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Final February Night Hike

It was February 27, the final Friday of the month and temperatures were unseasonably cold, in the 20s, with a fresh cover of snow and ice on the ground. Yet, a group of excited participants joined one of our Park System Naturalists for a lantern-lit night hike through the Rocky Point section of Hartshorne Woods Park, Highlands. The sky was clear, making it easy to spot numerous bright stars and planets. We told stories about plants and animals that call this park home. Best of all, the haunting hoot sound of a great horned owl could be heard not far from the group along the Bunker Loop trail. 

Nature walks are always popular with Park System visitors and are offered at different parks throughout the year. Check out some of our upcoming spring nature walk programs:

  • Nature Night Hike on April 3 at Holmdel Park, Holmdel, invites ages 8 and up (under 18 with adult) on a moonlit hike as we look and listen for the nocturnal animals that call the park home.
  • Evening Frog Walk on April 11 at the Manasquan Reservoir, Howell, is fun for all ages as we enjoy a nighttime hike with the sounds of frogs and other nocturnal animals around us.
  • Spring Nature Walk on April 13 at Holmdel Park, Holmdel, explores the beauty of springtime as we enjoy a little fresh air and exercise.
  • Sunset Wetland Walk: Mummichogs and Marsh Critters on April 24 at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth, brings ages 7 and up (under 18 with adult) on a guided adventure in the wetlands near Sandy Hook Bay to check out the marsh fish (mummichogs) and look for the many migrating and resident birds.
  • Half Day Hike and Paddle on April 25 at Huber Woods Park, Middletown. Adults will love this challenging experience that combines hiking and kayaking. We'll first walk a mile through the park to Claypit Creek while discussing the plants and animals that reside in the park. Then we'll use sit-on-top kayaks to paddle the Navesink River and observe birds and other critters that depend on our local waterways.
All of the above named programs required pre-registration, so be sure to reserve your spot soon! For additional upcoming nature programs, please check out our current Spring Program Directory. And be sure not to miss out on one of our excellent (and free!) Roving Park System Naturalist nature walks which bring you to different parks to explore nature. For a list of upcoming Roving Naturalist walks, click here.

For more information about any of the Park System's parks and programs, call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or send us an email.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our Camp/Swim Program Directory is Here!

Make the Monmouth County Park System a part of your child's summer excitement! No matter what your child's interests are, there's sure to be a summer camp that will bring them friendship and memories for years to come. Filled to the brim with a wide variety of camps, this special edition Program Directory includes offerings of arts & crafts, equestrian, living history, horticulture, nature, science, odyssey adventures, performing arts and more! Looking to keep your child safe in the water? Be sure to check out our swim lessons which are available for many different age groups and skill levels.

Need to plan your child's summer activities around a busy schedule? Be sure to check out the Camp Calendar Index at the back of the book where you'll see the camps available for each week of the summer as well as which park locations and age groups they are available for. It's never been easier to find the right camps for your family!

Registration begins at 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 8. You may register:
  • Online (24/7)
  • By phone at 732-842-4000, ext. 1; phone registration will be available on March 8 from 12-2 p.m., after that you may register by phone Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • In person starting on March 9 at the Thompson Park Headquarters building, Newman Springs Road, Lincroft on Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
  • By mail using the Registration Form at the back of the Program Directory
Please Note: You may register family members ONLY.

Once registered for your selected camps, make sure to fill out the appropriate camp forms which can be found on our website under Activities -> Summer Camp Forms (available after registration begins).

Don't miss your chance to give your child a summer they'll remember for years to come! Check out the Camp/Swim Program Directory today! Want a copy mailed to your home? Be sure to call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or email

Monday, February 9, 2015

Spotlight: Manasquan Resevoir Environmental Center


The Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center (Georgia Tavern Road, Howell) is dedicated to providing experiences of learning and discovery related to wetlands ecology and wildlife and habitat protection. Through interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, educational activities for schools and community groups, and wildlife observation areas, visitors gain an understanding of the importance of water in our world.

Designed to connect visitors with their natural world, the Environmental Center highlights the importance of water. One exhibit features fish found in the Reservoir outside. Another traces the journey of a raindrop as it travels through the watershed to the Manasquan River and, eventually, reaches the ocean. Some exhibits reveal what is not readily visible, such as nocturnal animals that call the Reservoir home. Another exhibit compares the effects of a town with unmanaged growth to one that has chosen to establish practices that protect the environment.

The Environmental Center offers free programs each weekend. Upcoming weekend drop-in programs include:
  • Great Backyard Bird Count on Saturday & Sunday, February 14 & 15: Join us as we participate in this great citizen scientist project with this self-directed program.  
  • Citizen Science on Saturday & Sunday, February 21 & 22: Discover projects that use the help of citizen scientists during this self-directed program.
  • Vernal Wetlands on Saturday & Sunday, February 28 & March 1: During this self-directed program visitors will learn about these special wetlands and the animals that live in them.  
  • Snake Meet and Greet on Saturday & Sunday, March 7 & 8 at 10:30 a.m.: Meet a live snake and learn about the ones that live at the reservoir.
  • Monarch Butterflies on Saturday, March 14 at 11 a.m. and Sunday, March 15 at 2 p.m.: Discover where monarch butterflies are on their migration back north.

This spring the Environmental Center will offer a variety of nature programs that are sure to open your eyes to the amazement in the nature that surrounds us. Here is just sampling of what's to come this spring:
  • Bald Eagle Walk at the Manasquan Reservoir: Ages 9 and up (under 18 with adult) will enjoy this unique opportunity to learn about bald eagles and to possibly get a glimpse of the pair nesting nearby.
  • Don't Give Up Duck: Parents will enjoy bringing their toddlers (ages 18 months-3 years) to enjoy a sweet story about Duck and all of her friends. Songs, games and a craft are sure to add to your child's delight.
  • Froggie Fun: You and your little one (age 3-6) will have fun with this exciting meet and greet with a few of our resident frogs. Children will also enjoy a game and craft.
  • Young Naturalists Book Club: Do you have a nature and book lover at home between the ages of 5-12? They'll love joining this program where they will read a book of their choice that goes along with each monthly theme and then bring it with them to discuss with other kids who enjoy nature. Each meeting will end with a snack and craft.
These are just some of the programs happening at the Environmental Center this spring. For a full listing of upcoming Park System programs, click here. Don't miss out! Registration for spring programs begins at 8 a.m. this Wednesday, February 11!

The Environmental Center is open daily from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; from Memorial Day through Labor Day summer hours are in effect and are from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. on Fridays. For additional information on this amazing and beautiful park facility, visit our Environmental Center page. Have a child's birthday coming up? The Environmental Center also offers fun and educational birthday party packages your child and his/her friends are sure to love!