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!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Think Spring!

We know the temperatures are chilly and there are still chances of snow in the forecast, but we're starting to think warmer thoughts! The Park System's Spring Program Directory is coming! This 100 page brochure contains more than 500 programs offered this March, April and May, from arts & crafts to horticulture, equestrian to golf, sports & fitness to outdoor adventures and so much more!

Check out some of the NEW programs being offered:
  • Adult Programs
    • Active Adults Bike Club
    • Allergy Mom Does Italian 
    • Battleship of New Jersey Experience
    • Cherry Blossom Tour in NJ
    • Couponing 101
    • Golf 101
    • Landscaping for Resilience
    • Natural Beauty Care Workshop
    • PiYo
    • Smartphones in the Parks
    • Turning Simple Foods into Superfoods
  • Kids & Teens Programs
    • Around the World with Food 
    • Frozen Fun & Fitness
    • Fun with Music
    • Golf Summer Camp
    • STEAMworx Academy
    • Tots Golf
  • Family/Parent & Child Programs
    • Amphibians vs. Reptiles
    • Ceramic Seder Plate 
    • Family Trails Bike Ride
    • Literacy for Littles
    • Nature Babies
    • S*T*A*R Party
And those are just some of the brand new programs we have planned for spring. And of course don't forget the returning favorites that include Spring Senior Hikers, All Level Pottery Classes, Precious Metal Clay Basics, Photography Exploration in Our Parks, Hypertufa Workshop, Ladies Spring Adventures, Celebrate World Turtle Day, Earth Day Celebration, and so many more!

The Spring Program Directory will be available to the public on Friday, February 6. Be sure to get your copy (if you don't already receive it by mail) by visiting one of our many beautiful parks or by checking out our website. Registration for spring programs begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, February 11. Questions? Be sure to call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, or email

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winter Activities in the Parks

When the snow begins to fall or the ice begins to freeze, there's nothing better than getting outside to enjoy some fun family time. And the parks want to be sure our residents have some wonderful and safe places to enjoy their wintry excitement. Here are some of the activities you can enjoy in the winter months when the weather is just right...

  • SLEDDING: When at least two inches of snow has fallen, we all know it's time to head to the sledding hill at beautiful Holmdel Park, Holmdel. This supervised sledding area is open when two or more inches of snow cover the hill and is often groomed by Park System Rangers to assure it is safe and there aren't any rough patches coming through. Conditions permitting, normal sledding hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and  8 a.m.-9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Call Holmdel Park at 732-946-9562 for current sledding conditions or check for updates on our Winter Activities web page. 
  • ICE SKATING: Lace up those skates, because when the conditions are right and the ice is at least five inches thick, skating may be available at Holmdel, Shark River and Turkey Swamp Parks. It normally takes at a week to 10 days of subfreezing temperatures to produce safe skating conditions. When the ice is considered safe, skating hours are from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Please Note: Skating is considered safe when the "Skating Today" signs are posted. You can also find the most updated information on our Winter Activities web page. 
  • ICE FISHING: If your favorite wintry sport involves a rod and reel instead of a sled or skates, you can drop a line at the Manasquan Reservoir, Thompson Park, and Turkey Swamp Park when ice fishing conditions are right. See a Park System Ranger for the designated ice fishing area and times in each park. The Winter Activities page will offer currently open locations as well.
  • CROSS-COUNTRY SKI AND SNOWSHOE RENTALS: Open when the snowy conditions permit, the Ski Hut at Thompson Park, Lincroft (located next to the Three Barns Parking Area), offers rentals of cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment. When the snowy conditions are right, normal hours and pricing are:
    Weekday Rentals      
    Monday-Wednesday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
    Thursday & Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. (headlamps are recommended for evenings)
    Weekend Rentals     
    Saturday & Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
    Daily Rental Pricing     
    Ski Equipment: $15 per set
    Snowshoes: $10 per pair
    Skis and/or snowshoes are available on a first come, first served basis.
    For more information or questions regarding equipment rentals, please call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

    Cross-country skiers will be thrilled to learn that the Park System will be grooming trails for cross-country skiing at Thompson Park when there is enough snow and conditions are favorable. (Six inches or more of snow.) Here's the Cross Country Ski Trail Map for Thompson Park

    Prefer the path less taken? You can also cross-country ski and snowshoe at Clayton, Hartshorne Woods, Holmdel, Huber Woods, Shark River, Tatum, and Turkey Swamp Parks. Please stay on designated, marked trails. Cross-country skiing is available during regular park hours from 8 a.m. to dusk. Refer to the park pages for trail and parking lot locations.  
    Please check this website for grooming info and snow condition updates. 
These are just some of the fun things you can do in the parks as we enjoy the last half of winter. You can also visit any of the parks to play in the snow or build a snowman. Many winter programs with the parks are also still available. Check out our Winter Program Directory for upcoming programs and drop-ins in February. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Upcoming Programs to Warm Up Your Winter!

Looking for something to do that will brighten an otherwise gloomy, cold winter day? The Park System can help with that! We have plenty of programs planned that will get you out of the house and learning something new or enhancing a skill you already have. Take a moment to check out these exciting and fun programs and events:

  • Polar Bear Hiking Series on Sundays, January 25-March 1 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. will take you to trails you may have never experienced in the Park System. Each session will visit a different park, such as Huber Woods Park, Tatum Park, Clayton Park and more! If there's snow we'll enjoy the fun of trying out our snowshoes! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Various Park System locations)
  • Seashore Open House on Sunday, January 25 from 1-4 p.m. gives a little bit of summer to a cold winter's day. Held at the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park Activity Center, Long Branch you and your family will enjoy hands-on activities, aquatic animal displays and more. FREE!
  • "Split Pea" Cross-Country Ski Clinic on Thursday, January 29 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. will teach you the basics of cross-country skiing. Nature not providing us any snow? We'll be prepared with our ski mats! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Thompson Park, Lincroft)
  • Super Bowl Appetizers on Thursday, January 29 from 6-9 p.m. will get you prepared for your upcoming Super Bowl party by offering a variety of tasty recipes like Cheesy Wontons, Lime Infused Pulled Pork, Cheese Puffs and more! Pre-registration and fee are required. (Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck)
  • Sweetheart Clay Ornament on Friday, January 30 from 4-6 p.m. offers visitors a chance to make a special valentine for their sweetheart. Creations will be fired and ready for pick-up before Valentine's Day. FREE!
  • Bedtime Stories on Friday, January 30 from 6-7 p.m. offers families a fun evening to enjoy a snack while listening to a bedtime story. All ages are welcome as we wear our pajamas to settle down to head home and enjoy a restful night's sleep. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Holmdel Park, Holmdel)
  • Outdoor Cross-Country Ski Clinic on Sunday, February 1 from 1-3 p.m. offers the chance to learn the basics of cross-country skiing so you can ski with confidence when you venture out on your own this winter and in years to come. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Thompson Park, Lincroft)
  • Winter Full Moon Walk on Tuesday, February 3 from 5:15-6:15 p.m. will have us out exploring the trails under the light of a full moon. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Manasquan Reservoir, Howell)
  • Winter Reservoir Bird Walk on Sunday, February 8 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. takes us for a leisurely walk along the 5-mile perimeter trail as we search for birds spending their winter with us. Pre-registration and fee are required. (Manasquan Reservoir, Howell)

These are just some of the programs awaiting you in the parks! For a full list of our winter programs, visit our website

And don't let the winter chill get you too down, spring is slowly approaching. The Park System's Spring Program Directory will be released on Friday, February 6 and is filled with 100 pages of fun events and programs for the entire family!