Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Keep Your Resolutions

As we close out yet another beautiful year and head into 2014, many of us create resolutions. Big or small, these thoughts on how we'd like to change or improve our lives next year are often forgotten, pushed to the wayside by the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. But in 2014, don't forget that the Park System can assist you in reaching those goals.

One of the most popular resolutions is to improve your overall health and wellness. Let us help you reach your fitness goals with classes like Aerostep, NIA, and Zumba Fitness. Looking to improve on both your body and mind? Join one of our popular yoga classes, such as Easy Morning Yoga and Vinyasa Flow Yoga. All these sports & fitness classes are available in the coming weeks.

Or maybe your resolution is to spend more time outdoors. If you've never experienced one of our Outdoor Adventure programs, you don't know what you're missing! Offering programs in biking, hiking, skiing and much more, there's no better way to seek fun and excitement outdoors. Be sure to check out Evening Moon Hike, Music & S'mores, Outdoor Cross-Country Ski Clinics, "Split Pea" Cross-Country Ski Clinic, and Armchair Traveler.

Spending more time together as a family is always a terrific way to start the year off properly. The Park System offers great programs geared toward families. The 2014 Craft Quest will send you on a monthly mission to the Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls, to complete a craft that highlights a different country each month. Take the time to learn more about our natural world with programs like Snakes, Turtles and Toads! Oh My! where your family will discover the wonders of these creatures through a live animal show. Try your hands at something completely new by dropping in during Open Shoot Archery.

But this isn't all! The Park System has a wonderful selection of programs all year round to help you learn something new, develop a hobby, get outdoors, build family togetherness, or see more of the area with various trips. Winter programs are currently available in our Winter Program Directory and our Spring Program Directory will be released February 7.If you do not currently receive our Program Directory in the mail, be sure to call us at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, to be added to our mailing list.

We'll see you in the parks!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Are You Ready for Winter?

Winter Program Directory
It may be early November, but we're getting excited about winter! With over 350 programs to choose from, the winter issue of the Park System's Program Directory has us all anticipating tons of fun throughout December, January and February. With programs in arts & crafts, culinary arts, horticulture, nature, outdoor adventures, sports & fitness, and so much more, the Park System offers a world of fun right in your own backyard.

And with the upcoming new year, we've added special themed programs that will give visitors a more worldly experience. When you "Explore the World through Recreation" with us you'll be choosing programs that celebrate cultural interpretations of recreation, arts and nature. Some of these include Bonsai - Art & Nature Combined, Ballroom Latin Dancing, Tabata Training, Global Games, and more. These culturally themed programs are easy to find; just look for the globe icon while browsing your copy of the Winter Program Directory.

Ready to try something new? You'll find over 75 brand new programs that are sure to peek your interest. Take a look at just a few...
  • Celtic Vision Bracelet - The Blingy Celtic Vision Bracelet is a beautiful piece of chain maille jewelry that marries the smoothness of metal jump rings with crystals! What better way to learn this fun and fashionable technique?
  • Allergy Cooking for Your Family - Do you or someone you love struggle with food allergies? Are you at a loss for what to feed your child who is allergic to dairy, eggs or nuts? Do you have a grandchild that you’re afraid to bake for because of their allergies? This class aims to meet your needs. Taught by a mom with ten years of cooking experience for a food-allergic child, you will learn how to prepare delicious desserts without cow’s milk, butter, eggs or nuts.
  • Keep Calm and Hike On - Combine the rigors of hiking with a relaxing method of creating beautiful abstract art. No drawing skills required! We will hike the scenic trails of the county parks, stopping along the way for simple step-by-step instructions to create without the limits of drawing a specific “thing” or being constrained by expectations. By alternating hiking and drawing we may enhance our creativity and build our sense of well-being. Spontaneous outbursts of creativity will be encouraged!
  • Bedtime Stories - Who says you can’t wear your pajamas to the park? Join us for an evening out in your pajamas. Enjoy a bedtime snack while listening to a bedtime story. You’ll even get to meet a live animal before heading home to get tucked in for bed.
  • Super Bowl 101 - The Super Bowl will be watched by over 100 million people. Not all of them will understand the game. What’s an offensive tackle? How many downs are there? Why are the refs throwing those yellow hankies? In preparation for the big game we will watch clips of NFL game footage and explain positions, basic rules, and what to watch for on Super Bowl Sunday. This year don’t feel like the only part of the Super Bowl you understand is the commercials.
  • Eco-Friendly Gifts for Friends - Create fun gifts from recycled materials for your friends and family this holiday season. Everyone will love these “green” gifts and you’ll get to save money and the environment. What could be better!
  • Santa's Helpers - The Fort Monmouth Recreation Center is minutes away from Monmouth Mall, so parents can go holiday shopping while our elves help your little ones with some Christmas preparations of their own. All participants will make and wrap a special gift for their parents, as well as have game time and a holiday snack.
  • Grow Lab - Grow a salad, design an acid rain experiment, discover plant mysteries and more. From seed to fruit and back again, we’ll observe life cycles, taste our efforts, and even grow some holiday gifts.
  • Golf Fundamentals for Kids - Come learn how to play golf, using SNAG™ (Starting New at Golf) equipment! Learn all the basic elements of golf in a modified form. Falling somewhere between regulation and miniature golf, participants will learn the basic skills necessary to eventually transition to a golf course. Full shots, chipping, pitching and putting will be covered.
And don't miss all the other information available in this issue of the Program Directory. If you enjoy outdoor fun in the winter, check out the inside front cover for important information on sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing in the parks. Learn about some things the Park System has to offer that you might not have known about in the Park System Spotlight article "Did You Know?" on pages 2-3. Mark your calendar for special events like the Creative Arts Center Show and Sale, Seashore Open House, or Deep Cut Gardens Photography Exhibit, listed on page 4. Interested in renting a room for an event? A special feature on room rentals in the Park System can be found in the winter issue on page 67.

There's no doubt about it, the Winter Program Directory offers the opportunity for three months of fun! If you're already on our mailing list, your copy will be arriving shortly. Copies can also be picked up in most of your Monmouth County Park System parks or you can view it online. Registration for winter programs begins Wednesday, November 13 at 8am.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Isn't Over Yet!

Back to school shopping is underway and talk of autumn holidays has begun, but don't let the last few weeks of summer pass you by. There are still memories left to be made here in the parks! Here are just a few activities you can enjoy in the parks as summer comes to a close:
  • Rent a Boat - Enjoy a leisurely morning or afternoon out on the water. Rowboats and kayaks are available for rent through October 31 at the Manasquan Reservoir Visitor Center, Howell. At Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold, you'll find kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats available for rent every day now through Labor Day and on weekends from Labor Day through Columbus Day. There is also one more weekend of canoe rentals this year at Thompson Park, Lincroft on September 7 & 8 from 9am-3pm. Click here for full details and pricing for boat rentals in the parks.
  • Learn About Nature  - Head to Huber Woods Park Environmental Center, Middletown, to pick up a Safari Backpack and head out on a family adventure. Each backpack contains all you need to enjoy a self-guided nature walk. Visitors can choose from the following: Pre-K, Forest, Meadow or Pond. Use of Safari Backpacks is free, but a valid NJ drivers license must be left at the front desk with the docent.
  • Drop-In Geocaching - This popular high-tech treasure hunt uses GPS devices to guide you to hidden trinkets throughout Thompson Park, Lincroft. This is an excellent activity for families (ages 10 and up, under 18 with adult). We provide everything you need (GPS device, maps, and step-by-step instruction packet). Kits are available for rent on weekdays from 9am-2pm and weekends from 10am-2pm. Cost is $15 per group of up to four; cash (exact change) or check only.
  • Naturalist Guided Kayak Tours - There are only two more of these fun drop-in kayak tours of the Navesink River left this year. Join a Park System Naturalist at Hartshorne Woods Park, Middletown, for a leisurely paddle down the river. All equipment is provided; single and tandem kayaks are available. This is a first come, first served program and is limited to 14 participants. Cost is $20 per person; cash or check only. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult. Available dates are Monday, August 26 from 3-4:30pm and Tuesday, August 27 from 1-2:30pm. Meet at the Claypit Creek section.
  • Boat Tours of the Manasquan Reservoir - These family-friendly boat tours are narrated by our Park System Naturalists and offer a fantastic opportunity to view local wildlife including turtles, egrets, herons, osprey, and maybe even a Bald Eagle. Tours depart from the Visitor Center during the following days and times: weekends and holidays through October 14 at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm; Wednesday, August 28 at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm; and Friday, September 6 at 6:30pm. Boat tours are first come, first served; tickets are available for purchase beginning at 7am on the day of the tour. Cost is $5.61 for adults and $3.50 for children 12 and under (tax not included). All boat tours are weather permitting.
The following programs have a few spots left too! Check out:
But that's not all you can enjoy in the parks while the warmth of the summer remains upon us!
  • Go for a swim and enjoy the sandy beaches of Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
  • Bring the kids to one of the many playgrounds the Park System offers
  • Cool off at the Sprayground, the Park System's water-enhanced playground
  • Cast a line and see what might reel in
  • Tee off at one of the Park System's beautiful golf courses
  • Walk, hike or bike any one of our picturesque trails
  • Or just relax and enjoy a picnic at any of the parks

Thursday, August 8, 2013

You're Invited...

Check out something new this weekend in your Monmouth County Park System! We are pleased to announce the opening of the brand new Fort Monmouth Recreation Center in Tinton Falls!

This spacious, modern facility was acquired from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) and will serve as the Park System's first ever indoor recreation facility. A wide variety of amenities like classrooms, gymnasium, and game room, make the Fort Monmouth Recreation Center the perfect location for an array of programs including arts & crafts, sports, exercise classes, and special events.

On Saturday, August 10 from 12-4pm, the Park System will host an Open House at Fort Monmouth Recreation Center to allow the public to familiarize themselves with the facility. Take a tour to view all the amenities the building has to offer from the full sized gymnasium to the kid friendly classrooms.There will also be plenty of family-fun available including kids crafts & games, live reptile shows, climbing wall, sample painting classes, sports fun, and more! Light refreshments will be available, provided by the Friends of the Parks.

Programs will be offered at the Recreation Center beginning in September. A full listing of programs is available in the fall issue of the Program Directory, but here is a sampling of those to be offered at the facility:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fall Program Directory to be Released August 2!

Summer is still upon us, but autumn is slowly approaching. And this means the Park System's fall issue of the Program Directory is headed your way! We've pulled out all the stops this fall packing more than 450 exciting programs into this 88-page issue. From old favorites to new adventures, the Program Directory features arts & crafts, horticulture, nature, performing arts, sports & fitness, equestrian, and golf programs as well as plenty of fun special events.

If you're ready to try something different, this is the issue for you! With over 100 brand new programs, get ready to experience something new. Here is just a sampling of what you'll find in the fall issue of the Program Directory:
  • Fold Forming Metal: What do you get when you combine traditional metalworking techniques with origami like folding? This class will introduce you to a three-dimensional forming technique that uses a heat source to fold, shape and texture metal to create a unique cuff bracelet and earrings.
  • Investigating Paranormal Activity: Have you experienced unseen energies or odd events and don’t know how to explain their presence? Learn how to detect the signs of possible spirits and/or ghosts that might be inhabiting your home. You will be shown how to be free of these unwanted spirits to restore harmony in your life and home.
  • Gifts From the Garden: It’s time to harvest those herbs and turn them into herbal products to lavish on yourself or give as gifts. In these hands-on classes learn the techniques and make some to take home.
  • Ladies Geocaching Series: Join us for this great new way to experience your parks! Geocaching is the world-wide game of hiding and seeking hidden treasure while getting some exercise. We will use GPS (global positioning system) devices which receive signals from satellites that will guide us to hidden geocache treasures. GPS units will be supplied, but feel free to bring your own. Bring some trinkets to trade in the geocaches we find if you’d like. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after our hike.
  • Fort Monmouth Dodgeball League/Recreation: Can your team dodge, duck, dip, and dive its way through the season to become dodgeball champions? Each team will play one match per night. Each match consists of best of 13 games and no single game can exceed five minutes. Each team will play a minimum of seven matches including playoffs. Program includes six weeks of regular season and two weeks of playoffs. No experience necessary. Team must have a minimum of six players on its roster and a minimum of two women on the court at all times. Top two teams at the end of the season will be recognized.
  • Life on the Farm - Family Day: Enjoy the experience that will take you back in time to the 1890s with your family. Begin your day with morning chores including milking the cow, caring for the farm animals and tending to crops. Prepare your dinner on a wood-burning stove while younger children play old-fashioned games. Enjoy a wagon ride before you sit down to your home cooked meal.
  • Eat the Alphabet: A fun and delicious way to learn the ABC’s. Create a healthy snack with ingredients that begin with that week’s letters. While we nosh, we’ll engage in activities that help us to learn and write them. Due to the nature of this program, special dietary requests cannot be accommodated.
  • Making Magic!: Students become practicing magicians and learn to perform stunning stage feats and dazzling close-up innovations! Each trick is tailored to suit a young magician’s unique talents, because their abilities are as vast as their imaginations. All the tricks they learn are theirs to keep. A materials fee of $25 is payable to the instructor at first class. Taught by instructors from Hobby Quest of NJ.
  • Focus on Fitness & Fun!: Students can have fun, get help with their homework and hang out with friends. We begin in the gym with exercise and fitness activities to help children focus and retain information. Then we break to work on homework and art activities.
  • Messes & Masterpieces: Spark your child’s imagination while exploring colors, textures, paint, glitter, glue and more. Experience seasons and holidays together through stories, music and art. Please wear old clothes or bring a smock.
  • Myrtle Beach & Charleston, SC & Savannah, GA: This Southern hospitality tour highlights sightseeing of Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Savannah. Points of interest include visits to Broadway at the Beach, Barefoot Landing, Waterfront Tour of Savannah, shopping excursions to Myrtle Beach Factory Shops and the restored Cotton Warehouses along the Savannah Riverfront, and one evening at Medieval Times. Price includes round-trip motorcoach transportation, 6 night accommodations, admission to tours/attractions, 6 breakfasts, 4 dinners, taxes, meal gratuities, and Park System volunteer leader. Please Note: There may be some free time for additional sightseeing and meals.
  • Sherlock Holmes Weekend - Cape May, NJ: This Sherlock Holmes themed getaway is set in beautiful Victorian Cape May. Highlights include a chance to solve the mystery of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of Anima Oris, a coffee and dessert reception at the Rose Room at the Inn of Cape May, a meet and greet lunch with Dr. John Watson and Mr. Sherlock Holmes, a self-guided walking tour of area Bed & Breakfast Inns to find clues that will help in solving the mystery, and a performance of “Sherlock Holmes” at the East Lynne Theater Company in the evening. Price includes lodging, round-trip motorcoach transportation, 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners, tours and attractions, meal gratuities and Park System volunteer leader.
This was just a very small taste of the programs the Park System is offering this fall. The Program Directory will be mailed out, available in most County parks, and posted on our website on Friday, August 2. If you are not currently on our mailing list, be sure to call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312, to receive your copy.

Monday, July 15, 2013

39th Annual Monmouth County Fair - July 24-28

There is something magical about entering the Fair gates every summer. The aroma of salty popcorn and sweet funnel cake wafting through the air. The contagious laughter echoing from both young and old as they play games and enjoy amusement rides. The applause as they experience a thrilling show or musical act. And the smiles as they discover something new under a tent.

To some the Monmouth County Fair will be a brand new adventure this year. And for others, attending the Fair is a family tradition offering new experiences to behold every visit. And there's not a doubt that whether it's your first time or your tenth, this year's Fair will offer everyone something fun, exciting, and exceptional.
  • All New Amusement Rides: This year's rides are sure to bring laughter, thrills, and excitement to all ages. Don't miss out on wristband nights! Pay just $20 per wristband (available Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday) and ride as many rides as you'd like!
  • Exciting Entertainment: Ready for some thrills? In the Adventure Zone on Wednesday-Friday you'll get your fill with exciting shows that include E3 Skateboarding Stunt Show, "Hell on Wheels" BMX Stunt Show, and Fere Motorcycle Thrill Show. But that's not all! Step back in time to the days of knights on Thursday-Sunday in Show Ring 2 where you can watch the armor clad knights of Paragon Jousting charge one another with their lances leveled.
  • Delightful Animals: What would an agricultural fair be without animals? Be sure to stop by the 4-H tent to view all of their beautiful animals, from rabbits to goats and roosters to horses. Bwana Jim's Wildlife Show is always a hit for all ages, exhibiting a wide variety of animals including snakes, alligators, owls, and hawks. Stop by Show Ring 1 to check out the Racing Pigs Wednesday-Sunday as well as Sheep Herding Demonstrations Thursday-Sunday. On Saturday pet lovers won't want to miss Pet Zone where you can meet some of the horses of Sunnyside Recreation Area, watch the County Sheriff K-9 Unit Demonstration or Kountry K-9 Show, learn about Seeing Eye Puppy Training, and much more!
  • Jersey Grown Produce: Veggies and fruits and flowers, oh my! Ask any New Jersey native and they'll tell you, there's nothing better than fresh, locally grown Jersey produce! All new this year, the Monmouth County chapter of Future Farmers of America will host a farm stand offering fresh vegetables, fruits, and cut flowers for sale at the Agriculture Tent. They'll also have antique tractors on display and a fun, veggie themed mini-golf game for kids.
  • Plants, Artwork, Crafts & More: If you appreciate gardening, art, or a variety of crafts, be sure to stop by the Home & Garden Tent. Entries to our Home & Garden competitions will be on display as well as demonstrations that include pottery, egg carving, quilting, canning, decorative painting, rug hooking, and more. A schedule of demonstrations and exhibitors can be found in the Fair Schedule Brochure. Interested in entering an item in one of our competitions? Check out the Home & Garden Competition Brochure for details.
  • Learn More About Your Parks: Visit the Park System tent to learn about fun in the parks off the beaten path. Visit the Living History Tent for a step back in time with demonstrations such as butter making, embroidery, knitting, woodworking, and more.
  • Rev Your Engines: The Auto Zone is the place to be on Sunday! You'll get the opportunity to view amazing cars and trucks ranging from antique autos to race cars. Children can get in on some racing action with the Pinewood Derby (buy your derby car in advance at any hobby store or pay $5 at the Monmouth Council Boy Scouts Fair booth). Free kids races and an obstacle course will also be available.
  • Move to the Music: There's nothing better than adding some dancing to your evening. This year's Fair is jam packed with amazing musical acts:
    • Wednesday at 8:15pm & 9:30pm - The Benjamins
    • Thursday at 8:30pm & 9:30pm - Brian Kirk and the Jirks
    • Friday at 8:30pm & 9:30pm - Amish Outlaws
    • Saturday at 8pm & 9pm - DaddyPop
    • Sunday at 12pm & 1:30pm - 1910 Fruit Gum Company
These are just SOME of the exciting things you can include in your visit to this year's Monmouth County Fair. There will also be Opening Night Fireworks (weather permitting), Touch-A-Truck, delicious food, firefighter competition, the Nature Zone, and so much more! Check out our full schedule to plan your visit.

The Monmouth County Fair will take place Wednesday-Sunday, July 24-28 during the following hours: Wednesday-Saturday from 5-11pm and Sunday from 11am-6pm. Tickets are $7 per person; children 12 and under enter free. Seniors and active military members enter free on Sunday, July 28. The Monmouth County Fair is organized and presented by the Monmouth County Park System in cooperation with the Monmouth County 4-H Association. For additional information, visit www.monmouthcountyfair.com or call 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Be sure to visit our Facebook page this week and click "Fair Trivia Contest" for your chance to win a Fair prize package. Contest ends July 18, 2013. (You must "like" our page to enter; contest not available on smart phone devices.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fun and Safe Holiday Weekend!

With the Independence Day holiday weekend at our door, everyone is looking to enjoy outdoor fun with family and friends. But it's important with the summer heat and humidity to keep everyone healthy and safe no matter where you're headed. Here are some important tips to keep in mind this upcoming beautiful weekend:
  • Protect your skin. The summer sun may make it a great time to enjoy swimming, the beach, and other outdoor fun, but protecting yourself from the damage the sun's rays can cause is extremely important.
    • It is recommended to use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15 and one that clearly says on the label that it is "broad spectrum" and protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to apply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, especially after swimming or if you're sweating a lot.
    • And don't forget your lips, they're sensitive too! Lip balms or creams with SPF should be used as well.
    • Protect your head, neck, ears, eyes and scalp by using a hat with a wide brim.
    • Sunglasses with UV ray protection can prevent eye damage from the sun that may cause cataracts.
    • A tip from WebMD - "The shadow rule: A shadow that is longer than you are means UV exposure is low; a shadow that is shorter than you are means the UV exposure is high."
  • Stay hydrated. Did you know that the average adult loses more than 10 cups of fluids each day? It's important to keep our bodies hydrated so we keep having fun all day long. 
    • Signs of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth, headache, dizziness, weakness and muscle cramps. 
    • You can easily avoid dehydration during this summer heat by drinking plenty of fluids (especially water) and eating foods that have a high fluid content such as watermelon, grapefruit, apples, and lettuce (to name a few). 
    • Some drinks actually work as diuretics, causing your body to lose water. Avoid caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee or tea as well as alcoholic drinks while out in the hot sun.
Now that you're prepared for some fun in the sun this holiday weekend, check out some fun things to do with your Monmouth County parks:
  • Independence Day Celebration at Historic Longstreet Farm, Holmdel. Join the staff on July 4 from 12-3pm as we celebrate with games and contests. Free.
  • Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness at Historic Walnford, Upper Freehold. Celebrate the Fourth of July in our 1776 setting as you tour the beautiful grounds and try your hand at writing with a quill pen. Free.
  • Hit the beach at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, Long Branch! Enjoy some fun in the sun at this popular park. Amenities include snack bar, sheltered eating areas, volleyball area, outdoor showers and changing areas, guarded swimming, designated areas for surfing, and Tony's Place (a universally accessible playground for children of all abilities). Guarded swimming hours are from 10am-5pm daily. Weekday admission fees are $7 for individuals 18 years old and over; those 17 and under are free. On weekends and holidays, the fee is $7 for individuals 13 and over; those 12 and under are free. The cost of a daily parking pass is $7. Season beach badges and parking passes are available for purchase.
  • Cool off at the Sprayground nestled within Dorbrook Recreation Area, Colts Neck. This water-enhanced playground is great for children to beat the heat and play with water. The Sprayground opens at 10am on weekends and holidays and 11am on weekdays. The Sprayground closes at 7:30pm.
  • Discover the critters that live in Sandy Hook Bay with our free Summer Seining program at Bayshore Waterfront Park, Port Monmouth. From 11am-12pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through August 23, Park System staffers pull a seine net through the waters of the bay to allow visitors to view what's living there this summer. This program is great fun for families; no groups please. Swimming is not permitted at this beach location.
  • Relax on the calm waters of Marlu Lake this weekend! Canoe rentals will be available at Thompson Park, Lincroft, this Saturday & Sunday, July 6 & 7 from 9am-3pm. Cost is $15 per boat for 1-3 people for 2 hours. Boat rentals (fee) are also available at Manasquan Reservoir, Howell (kayaks and rowboats) as well as Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold (kayaks, canoes and paddleboats). 
These are just some of the fun things you can enjoy in your Monmouth County parks this weekend. Be sure to check out This Weekend in the Parks for additional programs and events. The staff at the Park System wishes everyone a safe and happy Independence Day and summer!

Friday, May 10, 2013

We Want to Hear from You!

For some it's watching their children release energy on the playgrounds. For others it's lacing up their sneakers and hitting the trails. And many love to partake in the thousands of programs the Park System offers every year. Whatever it is you enjoy about the parks, we'd like you to show us.

The Park System is currently running a Spring Video Contest through Facebook which gives our amazing visitors an opportunity to not only tell us what they love about the parks, but to also win a 2013 Monmouth County Fair prize package. The prize package includes the following: family four pack of tickets to this year's Monmouth County Fair; a behind the scenes tour of the fairgrounds; four free passes to the climbing wall; a family welcome announcement and an opportunity to be a guest announcer; and a commemorative photo of you and your family at the Fair.

Entering the contest is easy. Get out your video camera or smartphone and create a video of you and/or your friends/family in one of your favorite parks showing us why you love spending time in the parks (must be one of the Monmouth County Park System parks). When you've completed your video, upload it to YouTube and then fill out the entry form on our Facebook page to enter (you must "like" our page to enter the contest). Entrants have from now until Friday, June 20 to enter the contest. Beginning Saturday, June 21 through Friday, July 5, our Facebook fans will have the opportunity to view the videos and vote for the one they like best. The one with the most votes will be chosen as the winner. Be sure to check out the entry form for full guidelines and rules.

Looking for some tips?
  • Get creative! Do more than just stand in front of the camera, show us all the fun you have in the parks.
  • Bring family and friends into the mix. If you normally enjoy the parks as a group, get everyone involved to make your video something special!
  • Pick a great location at your favorite park. Choose the park that you visit the most, and also pick the best location within the park that represents what you love. If it's the playgrounds, make the playground your backdrop; if it's fishing, choose one of the picturesque lakes.
  • Have fun! Your video doesn't have to be overly serious. Bring in some music, add a few props, or just be silly. Everyone's experiences in the parks are different, but they're always about fun.
So head out to the parks and get those video cameras rolling! If anything, this contest is about you, our visitors, who love to make us part of their day. We can't wait to hear from you!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Spotlight: Naturalist Division

Park System Naturalist Chris Lanza during a 
Park System fossiling program.
At the Monmouth County Park System we pride ourselves on offering programs that will introduce you to new hobbies, new skills or send you on an adventure. But we're also about bringing nature and the environment into your life by offering locations to learn about the natural world through exhibits or by interacting with staff. The Park System's Naturalist Division is staffed by a knowledgeable team that is prepared to answer questions and always on the look out for amazing nature finds throughout the year.

Staff at the Bayshore Waterfront Park Activity Center, Huber Woods Environmental Center and Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center are dedicated to the natural environment that surrounds us and the animals that inhabit it. Each season they provide programs that will educate children and adults about animals, insects, habitats, Native American ways of life, and more! Exciting and fun programs available this May include Blackfish Cove Kayak Adventure, Celebrate World Turtle Day, and Creatures of the Fishing Pier. Naturalists have also created a wide variety of group programs available for school and community groups that promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of our natural history and environment.  

Park System Naturalist Sam Skinner takes his role 
as our "Roving Naturalist", leading free nature walks through 
various parks throughout the year.
When they're not creating fun and educational programs for children and adults alike, Park System Naturalists are staffing their locations to offer nature interpretation to visitors. Have questions about a bird you spotted on a trail? Wondering what animals live in the reservoir? Interested in learning about the creatures of the Sandy Hook Bay? Our Naturalists are prepared to answer all of your questions.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Summer Camps Offer Adventure, Fun, Friendship and so Much More!

When you're a kid the best thing about summer is having fun with friends and enjoying the warmth of the season (and no school of course!). There's no better way to ensure your children have the best summer ever than by enrolling them in summer camps that fit their interests. This summer the Monmouth County Park System's Camp/Swim Program Directory has over 150 summer camps to choose from all of which are geared towards giving your child an exciting summer. Don't think we have something your child will enjoy? Check out some of these awesome new camps:

  • Avengers Assemble! (entering K-2): If your child loves superheros, this camp is sure to be a blast! With games that will have campers outrunning the Flash in Speed Ball, assembling armor like Iron Man, or crawling through Spiderman's obstacle course, kids will love being just like their favorite superheros!
  • Camp Woof (entering grades 6-8): If your child and dog have a great bond, they'll get a kick out our first camp that lets them play together! Together they will make friends, play games, splash in the kiddie pool, and learn basic skills on becoming a responsible dog owner and well mannered pooch.
  • Explorers Club (entering grades 5-8): A week of exploration is in store as campers venture into woods, wetlands, and rivers in search of wildlife and fossils. We'll visit the animals of the Cape May Zoo, challenge ourselves on the ropes course at Thompson Park, try our hands at archery, and so much more!
  • Extreme Adventure Odyssey (entering grades 8-12): Get ready for an adventurous week as we experience camping, "real rock climbing", a zip flyer, Segways, and so much more! You'll soar to new heights with this exciting teen camp.
  • Grow, Harvest, Eat! (entering grades 3-4): There's something amazing gained when children learn about where the foods they eat come from. Together campers will tend a camp garden, harvest the produce and prepare simple recipes. They will also visit community gardens and local farms to learn about produce that is locally grown.
  • Just 4 Girlz (entering grade 6-8): Does your daughter love her magazines? Campers will become reporters, writers, researchers, editors, columnists, photographers, and publishers, all while creating their own versions of their favorite girls magazines. This is a great opportunity for girls to build a vision around all the subjects important to them.
  • Nightfall Nature (entering grades 4-6): This evening camp will allow your child to enjoy the mysteries of the night while hiking, fishing, kayaking, playing games, and exploring. These evening adventures are sure to bring a totally different summer camp experience.

These new camps are just a sampling of what we have to offer your child this summer. From arts & crafts to horticulture, fashion to farm life, equestrian to sports, and nature to odyssey adventures, there truly is a camp out there to suit any interest! And don't forget swim lessons!

Registration for children's summer camps and swim lessons begins:
Sunday, March 10:
Register online starting at 12noon or by phone at (732) 842-4000, ext. 1, from 12:00-4:00pm.
After March 10 you can register:
  • Online 24/7
  • By phone at (732) 842-4000, ext. 1, Monday through Friday, 8:00am-4:30pm
  • By mail using the form in the back of the Camp/Swim Program Directory
  • In person at Thompson Park Headquarters in Lincroft

Do you have a child with special needs who would love our camps? Call us at (732) 460-1167, ext. 24, to discuss what we can do to make your child's summer camp experience safe and exciting.

Make your child's summer an experience they'll never forget!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ready for Some Spring Fun?

With spring just around the corner, this is the perfect time to become reacquainted with all that your County parks have to offer. From trails to playgrounds, historic sites to off-leash dog areas, special events to programs, and so much more; nothing can beat the Monmouth County Park System's ever growing list of activities for all ages and interests.

If you've had a moment to browse our Spring Program Directory, you've noticed that there are many new programs to get you out and enjoying your favorite parks. We hope you'll set aside time in your busy schedule for you and your family to enjoy pleasant spring days learning a new hobby, finding new ways to keep healthy, or creating memories that will last a lifetime.Check out these wonderful new happenings for this spring season:

Drop-In Surprise Story Time

Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown, is by far one of the best places to view spring blooms. Take some time out this spring season with your children to enjoy a favorite nature- or garden-related story as read by some of our wonderful Park System staffers and volunteers. If it's rainy or cold outside, we'll meet in the Horticultural Center. But if the weather is nice a clue at the entrance will lead you to our secret story spot out in the garden. This free program is available from 11-11:45am on the following Saturdays: March 9, March 23, April 6, April 20, May 4, and May 18. 

Celebrating Blue, A Bluebell Festival

If you've never visited Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold, Sunday, April 14 is a perfect day to do so! From 11am-5pm families can enjoy crafts, story telling, music, games, milling, and so much more as we take a day to celebrate the approach of spring and the fleeting appearance of the bluebells along Crosswicks Creek.

Spring Craft Show

This brand new craft show is just in time for Mother's Day! Stop in to find a unique, hand crafted gift for your loved ones or a special person in your life. Join us on Saturday, April 27 from 9am-2pm at the Tatum Park Red Hill Activity Center, Middletown, to view all the beautiful items on display. If you're a crafter and would like to reserve a booth, call us at (732) 542-1642, ext. 30.

Nature Next Door

Nature is everywhere! At home, school, work, and your favorite park. We want to hear about all the wonderful things you're seeing! Take our online survey to report your findings; not sure what you saw? Email a photo or question to one of our Park System Naturalists and they'll be able to help. Be sure to enter your findings often; with your entry you'll be eligible to win our grand prize! Other prizes will be given for rare or endangered animal sightings and for the most submissions. For more details, visit us here.

Passport to the Parks!

Ready to get out and discover the parks? Pick up your passport and a list of suggested programs, events, and activities to do throughout the Park System. When you arrive at the park to enjoy an activity, you will find a Park System emblem at our kiosks to rub into your book. After enjoying much fun, and once you've gotten eight rubbings into your passport, return it to us at Thompson Park to receive a prize for your achievement! Passports will be available starting March 1. For full details, visit our Passport to the Parks web page.

Rockin' the Trails 2013

This may be an annual family adventure, but in 2013 it's all new! Discover new places in the parks with this fun family activity. By visiting various parks you will discover a secret nature quote by orienting yourself along trails and special areas of the parks. The expedition can be completed at family's pace throughout the entire year. When your special Rockin' the Trails brochure is complete, return it to one of our Environmental Centers to retrieve your prize and also be entered into a grand prize drawing.

Don't miss out on all of these wonderful opportunities to explore and enjoy your Monmouth County Park System parks. For full details on all of our spring programs, be sure to pick up a copy of the Spring Program Directory currently available within most Monmouth County parks.