Thursday, August 9, 2018

Family Fun in the Parks


August is Family Fun Month and your Monmouth County Park System has plenty of activities that will guarantee a great time for the whole family. The month of August typically signifies the last few weeks of summer before kids return to school. But in between the back to school shopping, families must take the time to enjoy what’s left of summer days (and nights).

It is universally known that parents encourage behaviors in their children. According to a PBS article, “Children are watching their parents’ every move, mirroring their every action; if parents are sedentary, there is a good chance their children will be too.” The article goes on to state: “However, parents who eat healthily and exercise with their children on a regular basis are teaching them many valuable lessons.”

August is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors at any of your Monmouth County parks! The temperatures are still toasty, the days are long, and the kids are ready to enjoy nature as much as they can before going back to school. So what is there for families to do when they want to break free from their routines? Go for a hike, have a picnic at the park, spend the afternoon kayaking, or ride your bikes through new scenery. Enjoy the beautiful summer weather while it lasts and go outdoors for some fresh air. You can even pick an activity and start a new family tradition. It doesn’t matter if your time together is extravagant or simple; it's all about spending quality time together and making lasting family memories. If you’re a selfie taker, use the hashtags #FamilyFunMonth and #MonmouthCountyParks to encourage others to join in the fun!

Check out these family activities that will help you celebrate Family Fun Month:

Superb Summer Saunter on Friday, August 10 from 10-11:30 a.m. With summer rearing to go, our parks are teeming with all sorts of animal and plant life. At the Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, engage your curiosity as you get some fresh air and explore the open trails with a Park System Naturalist  as your guide to teach you about the plants and critters you see along the way.

Starry Night Hike on Saturday, August 25 from 8-9 p.m. On a clear night at Freneau Woods Park get out your telescope and do a little family stargazing! Don’t have a telescope? No problem! Join our Park System Naturalists as you hike the forests, meadows and trails looking for constellations, cloud formations, moon phases, and maybe even a shooting star. You may even hear some bumps in the night, but have no fear...it’s probably just a howling coyote, hooting owl, or other nocturnal critter.

Open Shoot Archery on Sunday, August 26 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Take a shot at archery at the Thompson Park Activity Barn! Stop in during open shoot archery to improve your archery skills at our indoor range. This is not an instructional clinic and NOT designed for beginners. Open to ages 10 and up; under 18 with adult. Cost is $10 per person, cash or check only. Questions? Call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Kayak Tours of Swimming River on Tuesday, August 21 from 6-7 p.m. and Wednesday, August 22 from 7-8 p.m. for ages 12 and up (under 18 with adult) at Swimming River Park. Paddle your way down Swimming River during these nature kayak tours. Novice paddlers are welcome. All equipment is provided; both single and tandem kayaks will be available. Program is limited to 12 participants; first come, first served. Cost is $20 per person, cash or check only.

Boat Tours of the Manasquan Reservoir are both fun and educational as well as a great way for families to explore local nature. These 45-minute tours are led by Park System Naturalists and offer a terrific view of the local wildlife, which may include turtles, herons, egrets and our resident Bald Eagles. Tours take place on weekends through September 3 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. as well as on Wednesdays through August 29 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Life jackets are required. The cost is $6 per adult and $4 per child 12 and under. Please note that tours are both weather and water level dependent. To confirm boat tour schedule, call 732-751-9453. Boats and kayaks are also available to rent at the Manasquan Reservoir for those who wish to explore on their own.

Safari Backpacks: The Park System offers Safari Backpacks at several of locations: Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown; Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown; and Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell. Backpacks contain all your family will need to fill your self-guidance nature walk with adventure and exploration. Safari Backpacks are perfect for exploring the parks in a brand new way.

We look forward to your visit as you explore the parks together this August!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Healthy Living with Golf


If you’re looking for a golf course to play a round with friends or simply work on your drive, you’ve definitely got plenty of options to choose from in Monmouth County. With six public courses made available through your Monmouth County Park System, you could spend more time trying to decide on a course than actually playing! Each year more than 200,000 rounds are played on our courses. Our facilities can accommodate golfers of all skill levels, so whether you’re a beginner, amateur, expert, or somewhere in between, Monmouth County courses provide something for everyone. We offer five championship 18-hole courses, two 18-hole executive courses, a 9-hole, par 3 course, and three warm-up ranges. Learn about them all by clicking here.
"Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind ever invented." - Arnold Palmer
But did you also know that studies show golf could be one of the healthiest activities you can do? There are so many health benefits to playing golf that it would fill the pages of a book versus the limits of this blog post! From a health perspective, golf is the perfect form of exercise, providing a diverse workout and helping to lay the foundations for a more active life. There are numerous ways in which you can keep fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it just so happens that regularly engaging in a round of golf can offer the same benefits as other forms of exercise! To be good at most sports like football, tennis, basketball, baseball, swimming or athletics, you have to be very strong, fast or physically fit. Not for golf. Golfers come in all shapes and sizes, from youths to seniors. Moreover, it is a low-impact sport that further demonstrates a wide variety of mental and physical health benefits for people of all ages. 

Unlike other intense sports, golf is a game that fosters conversation. In much the same vein, it becomes a great way to spend time with friends and provide opportunities to meet new people. Golf can even be the best form of Ecotherapy, otherwise known as "green exercise" which emphasizes the importance of combining exercise with an outdoor activity. Basking in nature on an 18-hole course provides health benefits for both mind and body. So grab your clubs and play some golf. Your body will thank you!

Various studies have highlighted some ways that heading out for 18 holes can make you healthier:
  • Mental Alertness - Golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. The required concentration as you set up your next shot and maintain good form, visualize yourself succeeding, and plot out your strategy sends blood rushing to your brain just as much as walking the course. Golf teaches problem solving and keeps the mind sharp. Clive Ballard, Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, says: “Whether it is going for a jog or walking the golf course, keeping physically active is a great way to keep your heart and your brain healthy. By keeping active you make sure your brain has a good, strong blood supply, which is essential to help it function better now and in the future.” 
  • Provides Stress Relief and Boosts Mood - Aside from the physical benefits, being out and about in a setting as beautiful as a golf course with plenty of fresh air is believed to be able to improve your mental well-being, as well as benefit those suffering with stress or anxiety. A study conducted by the University of Essex found that the pleasure of walking in fresh air with an added mental challenge releases endorphins, the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in your brain, which make you feel happy and relaxed. 
  • Increases Life Expectancy - Want to live your longest, healthiest life? Golf could be the key to longevity. According to the Golf & Health Project, supported by the World Golf Foundation, golf can be expected to decrease the risk of more than 40 chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and colon and breast cancer. 
  • Improves Vitamin D Intake - Vitamin D is an important nutrient that your body is able to synthesize naturally when it’s exposed to sufficient levels of sunlight. Fortunately, the sun is an excellent (and free!) source of vitamin D. During the summer and fall months, playing a round of golf may be an excellent means of ensuring your body can produce sufficient amounts of vitamin D. It has been shown to reduce your risk of cancer, help your bones maintain appropriate calcium levels, boost your immune system, boost your mood, prevent or reduce chronic diseases, and much more. 
  • Weight Loss - Golf is a form of exercise that contributes to healthy weight loss. You’ve probably heard health professionals mention that 10,000 steps per day is the golden number to achieve weight-loss. Berkeley Wellness reported findings from a study that indicated a full 18-hole round easily exceeds the recommendation. Players who choose to ride in a golf buggy rather than walking, or wish to play a shortened round of 9-holes, will still expend more calories than a strenuous, lengthy gym workout!
Not currently a golfer but interested in learning to play? Be sure to check out the Park System's golf lessons available for all levels. 

We'll see you on the greens!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Monmouth County Fair is Coming!


The highlight of the summer has arrived! Organized and presented by the Monmouth County Park System in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H, the 44th annual Monmouth County Fair returns to East Freehold Showgrounds on Wednesday-Sunday, July 25-29. Whether it’s a family tradition or your first time visiting, this five-day event offers fun for all ages with musical entertainment, a variety of food vendors, rides, home and garden competitions and exhibits, and so much more!

Rides

Sure to delight thrill seekers of all ages! This year's rides are once again provided by Reithoffer
Shows. Two rides areas will be available, one for smaller children's rides and another for the thrill seekers in your family. Wristbands can be purchased every night at a cost of $25 on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and $30 on Friday and Saturday. Single ride tickets will also be available for purchase. Ride wristbands are also available for early-bird purchase on the Reithoffer Shows website for $25; early-bird sales end on July 24. There will also be a variety of fun carnival-style games you can play as well! 

Entertainment

Entertainment has always been a big part of the Fair and this year’s performers promise to deliver! Each day is filled with fun and excitement! There will be plenty of returning favorites that are always a hit with families, such as Bwana Jim’s Wildlife Show where you can catch a glimpse at wild animals such as snakes, alligators, hawks, owls, turtles and more. Be sure to check out Mutts Gone Nuts, featuring everyone’s favorite four-legged pets showcasing their skills, their personalities, and their senses of humor as they complete tricks and jumps. Hell on Wheels BMX Stunt Show also returns this year with an exhilarating performance that's sure to fill spectators with excitement. Other fun and exciting events include Wheel of Destiny, Robinson's Racing Pigs, and Hilby the Skinny German Juggle Boy.

And don’t forget our musical entertainment! The Moroccan Sheepherders kick things off on Wednesday night, performing a mix of classic rock covers and original music at 8:15 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. On Thursday night, vibe out with The Chuck Lambert Band at 8:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Friday night, be inspired by the young and talented group Musicians on a Mission at 8:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. with a performance that brings awareness and funds for local charitable organizations through planned musical events that showcase New Jersey performers. There are a lot of cover bands out there, but there’s only one that can kick off a Saturday night like the Jimmy Buffet & Friends Tribute Band, scheduled to perform at 8:15 p.m. & 9:30 p.m. Come experience the ViRAGO Music Celtic Trio as they bring the Fair to a close on Sunday with their mix of ethnic melodies and rhythms with original songs at 12 p.m. & 1:45 p.m. 

Vendors & Exhibits

There are plenty of vendors and exhibits to visit during the Monmouth County Fair as well! From shopping to eating, you’ll find a variety of booths. There are over 25 food vendors if you need a bite to eat, so don’t worry there will be plenty to choose from, including our first ever vegan vendor! Be sure to support local Monmouth County businesses at the Made in Monmouth tent where you’ll find an assortment of products made in Monmouth County that may include unique household and decorative items, jewelry, specialty foods and pet accessories. At the Grown in Monmouth booth you’ll learn about this new and exciting program designed to help retain and grow the County’s Agricultural industry. Other highlights include a variety of Monmouth County 4-H exhibits and events such as animal shows, contests, demonstrations and entertainment. The Home & Garden Tent features entries in a variety of competitions from photography to painting, fruits and vegetables to baking, plus daily demonstrations that may spark your interest in learning something new. If you’re a history buff, stop by the Living History Tent and learn about the county’s rich agricultural environment through hands-on activities and demonstrations. 

The Monmouth County Fair is open from 5-11 p.m. on Wednesday-Friday, July 25-27; 3-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 28; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, July 29. Admission is $8 per person; children 12 and under are free. For more information about the Fair, visit www.MonmouthCountyFair.com, or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Park & Recreation Month: A Lifetime of Discovery

Make every day an adventure in Monmouth County’s beautiful parks this month! This July, the Monmouth County Park System is celebrating Park and Recreation Month, an initiative of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Since 1985, America has celebrated Park and Recreation Month during the month of July to acknowledge the influential impact the parks and recreation services has in organizing and preserving the quality of life for, and contributing to the physical, economic and environmental well-being towards our local parks. 

In this annual monthly celebration the Monmouth County Park System encourages residents to get out and experience the benefits of parks and recreation. From health and wellness to conservation efforts and everything in between! Playgrounds, recreation centers, programs and summer camps are just a few of the things that come to mind when we think of parks and rec. But, parks and recreation are so much more than that. It’s a time for visitors to explore the undiscovered roles of our local parks as we showcase all the exciting things you can experience in your parks. Whichever activity you choose to do, don’t experience it alone. 

Here are some free activities to help you begin your outdoor adventures in the parks this July:
  • Seining Along Sandy Hook Bay - Discover a variety of fish, crabs and other sea creatures as we pull a long seine net along the edge of Sandy Hook Bay at Bayshore Waterfront Park located in Port Monmouth. It will be a fun time for everyone as we find out what lives and swims in the Sandy Hook Bay. This program runs every Monday, Wednesday & Friday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. this summer through August 24.
  • Tidal Tuesdays - Every Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Fisherman's Cove Conservation Area, Manasquan, take part in activities such as meeting creatures living in the water that we find in our seine net or creating crafts from natural materials found along the shore. Meet at the Activity Center.
  • Independence Day Celebration - Independence Day was a festive time in the 1890s. Patriotism was celebrated with music and games. Join the staff at Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel as they celebrate the holiday with games and contests from 12-3 p.m.!
  • Enviro-Quest - Every Thursday of July offers nature fun at a different park. When you arrive at the scheduled park, follow the Enviro-Quest signs to where our Park System Naturalist awaits. Once there, you'll join in activities, crafts or games for approximately 30-60 minutes of fun. For upcoming dates and locations, click here
  • Roving Naturalist -
    Join our Roving Naturalist on Saturday, July 7 at 9 a.m. and explore Dorbrook Recreation Area in Colts Neck, as we discuss seasonal points of interest, search for signs of wildlife and identify a bird or two. This is a 1.5-2 hour program, however feel free to join in or drop out at any point during the walk. Dress for the weather as light rain is not a deterrent. 
  • Climb Time - Head to Clayton Park Activity Center in Upper Freehold on Saturday, July 14 from 12-4 p.m. to try our 25' rock climbing wall. It’s the perfect way to see if rock climbing is for you! Climbers must be 42” or taller and age 8 or older (under 18 with adult). 
  • The Casual Birder - Join this laid back morning bird walk at Freneau Woods Park, Aberdeen on Thursday, July 19 at 9 a.m. We will meander through the park for about an hour and a half to see what birds we can find. No need to be an expert at identifying birds to enjoy these walks. A limited number of free binoculars will be available on a first come, first served basis. 
These are just some of the excellent options available to visitors this month. For a full listing of what's happening in the parks, view our Calendar of Events. For all upcoming programs this summer, check the current issue of our Parks & Programs Guide

We want to see how you're having fun in your Monmouth County parks this July! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@MonCountyParks) and share a photo of you and your family and/or friends enjoying the parks! Be sure to use the hashtags #MonmouthCountyParks and #DiscoverJuly to encourage others to support local parks and recreation and to share why they think it's important to explore and discover all the Monmouth County Park System has to offer!

Volunteers assist in keeping the parks well-maintained for our visitors to enjoy.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Even More History in Your Parks!


Those looking to get outside and enjoy the weather will find an extra dose of history this spring in the Rocky Point section of Hartshorne Woods Park, Highlands. The WWII era Battery Lewis has a new permanent walk-through exhibit inside the subterranean installment, which once housed two 16-inch guns that helped protect New York Harbor.


Battery Lewis will have an Open House on Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The Dedication Ceremony originally scheduled for this date has been postponed due to inclement weather until Saturday, June 16 at 10 a.m. The exhibit will remain open Thursday-Sunday, May 24 through October from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The exhibit features interpretive panels, replica shells, and an impressive a 16-inch gun barrel mounted on a concrete pedestal to give visitors a sense of size and space. The barrel on display at the park was mounted on the USS New Jersey during WWII.

The Army constructed the Navesink Military Reservation in 1942 as part of the Modernization Program for the Harbor Defenses of the Continental U.S. While Battery Lewis is the only 16-inch gun battery in the state of New Jersey, similar batteries can be found, in varying conditions, in many coastal areas throughout the United States; from Battery Townsley in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco to Battery Harris at Fort Tilton, New York. The Navesink Military Reservation was listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

For more information about military history in the park visit the Hartshorne Woods Park page.