Monday, May 28, 2012

Exploring Creativity at the Creative Arts Center

Thompson Park Creative Arts Center
The Creative Arts Center at Thompson Park, Lincroft is a facility designed to give visitors the chance to experience a multitude of different crafts. The center features ceramics and pottery studios as well as classrooms for painting, drawing and other craft activities. One of this spring's newest programs was The Creative Arts Experience, a six session class for adults that covered a new medium each week. From painting to sewing, pottery to printmaking, and more, students were given the chance to explore crafts that they may have never tried before.

The Creative Arts Experience has been a terrific way for our participants to find a craft they enjoyed without committing to a full session of one activity. On the first week we delved right into pottery, showing participants (some of which had never touched clay before) how to use handbuilding techniques to create a fun birdhouse. In the weeks following we have explored acrylic paints,printmaking, origami, watercolors and a simple sewing project as time allows.

The Creative Arts Experience will be offered again this autumn, so be sure to keep an eye out for it in the Fall Directory (available on Friday, August 10).


If you're looking for a program to take this summer, be sure to check out the Summer Directory which lists all of our programs and special events for June, July and August. Some of this summer's arts & crafts programs include:
Adult Arts & Crafts
Kids & Teens Arts & Crafts
Parent & Child Arts & Crafts
This is merely a sampling of the creative programs scheduled for this summer. Pick up a copy of our Summer Directory (available in most county parks) or visit our website for a full list of programs.

Staff Contributor: Christina Carlson, Creative Arts Center Staff

Monday, May 21, 2012

Family Fun While Discovering the Parks

If you’re a fan of Monmouth County Park System parks you and your family probably stick to a few favorite locations. But the Park System has over 30 locations for visitors to enjoy all year round. If you’re ready to discover some new locations in a family-friendly way, we have fun approach to get you started!  

Rockin’ the Trails is back for the third year in a row and will have you discovering park locations you may have never seen or new details about parks you already love. You and your family will be sent on a mission to visit eight specific Monmouth County parks and discover answers to our questions. Each answer will supply you with letters that will combine to reveal a special nature quote from John Burroughs. Participants may either mail their completed brochure in or bring it to the Huber Woods Environmental Center or Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center. You will then be entered in the Grand Prize Drawing that will take place at the year's end (last year's winners enjoyed a free family boat tour at the Manasquan Reservoir).

Don't miss out on this terrific family experience! You can find a PDF of the Rockin' the Trails brochure on our website or call (732) 842-4000, ext. 4312, to have one delivered by mail.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunnyside Invites You...

Explore a Park System facility this weekend that you may never have known about. Many frequent Park System visitors have never visited or even heard of Sunnyside Equestrian Center in Lincroft. But this weekend is your perfect opportunity to see what Sunnyside is all about! 

On Sunday, May 20 from 12:00-3:00pm Sunnyside Equestrian Center will host an open house. This family-friendly, free event celebrates the 10th anniversary of therapeutic horseback riding at the center through the not-for-profit organization Special People United to Ride (SPUR). Through SPUR, individuals with disabilities find a safe haven at Sunnyside where limitations are replaced by the freedom of riding and handling a horse, working to improve self-esteem, social skills, balance, muscle tone, and posture as well as to process sensory messages to the brain. Guided by instructors certified by PATH International, the governing body of therapeutic horseback riding, and more than 100 volunteers annually, over 200 students with disabilities are served each year.

Celebrate this momentous occasion with us! Open house activities include pony rides, crafts, face painting, caricatures, demonstrations, and an opportunity to meet the horses and see where they live. There will also be light refreshments, music, 50/50 ticket sales (winners will be chosen at SPUR’s Casino Night on September 22), and a drawing for prizes which include a birthday party at Sunnyside.

The Sunnyside Equestrian Center Open House is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to not only experience a little known Park System location, but to also learn about SPUR and the amazing opportunities the organization offers to individuals with disabilities. For more information on the Open House or on Sunnyside Recreation Area, call (732) 224-1367, ext. 3#. For more information about Special People United to Ride visit the SPUR website.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Get Outdoors with the Outdoor Adventure Expo!

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Canoes, kayaks & paddle boats!
Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and climbing are just some of the magnificent outdoor adventures available throughout Monmouth County. Are you ready to greet the outdoors with open arms? Or are you already an outdoor adventurer looking to learn more about these great activities? There’s no better place to learn about the vast variety of outdoor opportunities available than by visiting the Park System’s Outdoor Adventure Expo on Sunday, May 20 from 11:00am-5:00pm at Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold.

The Outdoor Adventure Expo is an annual family-friendly event that allows our visitors to explore and sample all there is to offer in the area. The following are some of the wonderful happenings you’ll experience at the Expo:
  • Test a variety of equipment such as touring kayaks, white water kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, our 25 foot rock climbing wall, and more!
  • Children’s fishing derby.
  • Take a shot with hands-on golf demonstrations.
  • Attend free lectures, demonstrations, mini-clinics, and nature hikes.
  • Meet vendors for various outdoor activities who will offer advice and be available to answer all of your questions.
  • Discover local and regional outdoor adventures and sportsmen’s clubs.

Be sure not to miss the following scheduled events (schedule subject to change):
Kids' Fishing Derby
  • 11:30am – White Water Kayaking Demo (presented by MCPS Staff)
  • 12:00pm – Long Bow Demonstration (presented by Warpath Archery)
  • 12:00-2:00pm – Fishing Derby (presented by Jersey Shore Chapter – Trout Unlimited)
  • 12:30pm – Reptile Show (presented by MCPS Staff)
  • 1:00pm – Picking the Right Kayak (presented by Eastern Mountain Sports)
  • 2:00pm – Geocache Hike (presented by MCPS Staff & Central Jersey Geocaching)
  • 3:00pm – Long Bow Demonstration (presented by Warpath Archery) 
  • 3:30pm – Reptile Show (presented by MCPS Staff)
Ongoing demonstrations will also be available:
  • Archery (MCPS Staff)
  • Golf (MCPS Staff)
  • Lost in a Monmouth County park? There's an App for that! (MCPS Staff)
  • Rigging Sailboats & Sailors Knots (SEAS)
  • Small Animal Care (14 Carrot Rabbit Club)
  • Stand Up Paddle Boarding (Aloha Guides)
Here is a full list of the exhibitors who will be available during the Outdoor Adventure Expo:
  • 14 Carrot Rabbit
  • Aloha Guides
  • American Littoral Society
  • Central Jersey Geocaching
  • D&D Concessions
  • East Coast Diving Center
  • Eastern Mountain Sports
  • Hunters Helping the Hungry
  • Jersey Off Road Bicycle Association
  • Jersey Shore Chapter – Trout Unlimited
  • John Drulle, M.D., Memorial Lyme Fund
  • The Kids Fishing Shop
  • Monmouth County Park System
    • Acquisition & Design
    • Golf Division
    • Historic Walnford
    • Naturalist Division
    • Outdoor Adventures
    • Turkey Swamp Park
    • Visitor Services
  • Monmouth Ski Club
  • Scott Motor Coach RV Sales
  • Shoot NJ LLC
  • Sierra Club – Jersey Shore Group
  • Society for the Education of American Sailors
  • Warpath Archery
  • YMCA Camp Topanemus

The Outdoor Adventure Expo is free and will run rain or shine. Don’t miss out on this amazing event that is sure to get you and your family ready to venture outdoors and try something new.

Camping is available within the park for a fee (see our Turkey Swamp Park page for information campsite reservations).

For additional information on this event, please call (732) 842-4000, ext. 4312. We'll see you there!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Frogs in the Parks

I recently had quite an adventure during my Starry Night and Singing Frogs program at Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. It was a beautiful, clear night so stars were abundant and Venus shone brightly in the sky. In spite of it being late April, it was a cool night and I worried that the frogs singing would be inhibited. With this thought foremost in my mind, I led several families out of the shelter building, leaving the warm fire burning inside, and headed toward the lake and boathouse where a shallow cove often hosts frogs in abundance

Spring Peeper
As we walked down the hill toward the cove, I halted and gestured for silence. Faintly in the distance, I heard a familiar sound. Peep, peep, peep. Spring Peepers! This diminutive chorus frog is a sure sign of spring, as it is known to call as early as March and only the Wood Frog bests it by calling in February. I moved our party briskly across the field and toward a marshy area I know frogs love and was rewarded by the deafening but beautiful sound of dozens of Spring Peepers singing. 

Pickerel Frog
Even more exciting, I detected the calls of two other species: the Pickerel Frog and Green Frog. Both are true frogs, more closely bound to the water than Spring Peepers and sport a thin waist and long, powerful jumping legs with webbed feet. The call of the Pickerel Frog is described as something between a belch and a snore. The Green Frog call surprisingly resembles the sounds of a banjo. 

Identifying the frogs was only half the battle and the children were determined to capture some of our noisy quarry. We spread out around the marsh, but the combination of darkness, water, marsh plants, and the amazing ability of the Spring Peepers to echo their calls in confounding ways and fall silent on our approach proved impossible to overcome. However, the children were delighted when our hard work was rewarded with the capture of a Pickerel Frog. We admired her for a time, but finally left the frogs to their marsh, the night, and their wonderful nocturnal concert. As we walked back to the parking lot, I discussed the other frogs (Bullfrogs, Southern Leopard Frogs, Northern Gray Tree Frogs and Fowler's Toads to name a few) that would be adding their voices to the nightly performance from now until late July.

Staff Contributor: Christopher Lanza, Senior Park Naturalist
  • There are still spots available in our next session of Starry Night and Singing Frogs on Friday, May 25!
  • Check out more upcoming programs in the Summer Directory available on our website on Friday, May 11!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The Monmouth County Park System welcomes you to our new blog! With over 30 park areas to explore, there's something for everyone. From playgrounds to picnic areas, historic sites to environmental centers, boating and much more, visitors of all ages can enjoy the county parks. And that's not all! The Monmouth County Park System offers over 5,000 programs each year that include activities like arts & crafts, equestrian, outdoor adventures, self improvement, sports & fitness, and trips.

Through this blog the Park System intends to inform our visitors about Park System happenings, special events, nature topics, programs, and much more! Feel free to use the comments section on our posts to ask questions, tell us about your adventures in the parks, or let us know what you think about a specific location. For the best way to keep up-to-date with our blog posts, enter your email address to subscribe at the bottom of the page.