Nature offers special features for each season, and the folks at Fredericksburg’s Parks, Recreation & Events Department are providing a spectrum of activities throughout November for families to explore the treasures of the great outdoors at Motts Run Reservoir Recreation Area.
“Being in nature gives everyone a chance to refresh and rejuvenate and to learn something new,” said outdoor recreation supervisor Callie Brown. “The more we get out in nature, the more comfortable we are going to be in it, and the more we learn, the more questions we will have.”
On Nov. 20, from 4–5 p.m., the Parks and Rec Department will host Walk with a Hawk, teaming up with Earthquest, an environmental educational nonprofit that introduces families to its non-releasable birds of prey. As visitors hike down a woodland trail, they will soon notice that a new friend has joined them. A Harris’s Hawk will follow them through the trees, as the educator talks about some of the special features of this most social bird of prey and gives it an opportunity to show off its prowess.
“The kids are so excited and point out where it has lighted in the branches along the way,” said Brown, “and the adults get just as excited as the kids!”
On Nov. 21, from 10–11:30 a.m., Brown will lead participants on a Hike With Your Hound on a trail near the lake, pointing out special features of trees and evidence of animals, such as tracks, nests and woodpeckers’ holes. All dogs must be on a leash and play well with others. Guests are advised to wear sturdy shoes and to dress for the weather, and all children must be accompanied by an adult.
“This will be a great opportunity for dog people to meet each other while enjoying the beautiful fall colors of the trees,” said Brown.
On Nov. 25, from 9–10:30 a.m., Brown will lead families on a pre-Thanksgiving turkey trek. Before their hike on a woodland trail, participants will gather for a brief introduction where they can learn about the turkey’s adaptations and life in the wild.
“Probably the most fascinating is the males’ display when courting the females, in which they fan their big, beautiful tail as they strut around to attract attention,” said Brown.
Guests can make their own turkey call out of simple household items, before setting out on their trek. As they make their way through the woods, participants will be guided to look for turkey scratches along the way, the marks they leave behind as they scratch the ground to move leaves out of the way as they hunt for nuts, berries and insects. A chorus of gobbles is certain to emerge from the turkey calls of the crew of excited explorers.
“All of these nature programs are wonderful extracurricular activities for kids. Learning in a classroom or at a screen just doesn’t compare to learning in the field,” said Brown. “And these will be memorable family experiences as parents and children learn new things about the world around us.”
In addition to November’s nature programs, the Parks and Rec Department will host a Parent Date Night on Friday, Nov. 13, from 6–8 p.m. Date night for parents equals a fun night for kids, as they join in an evening of games, dancing and a chance to cook their own dinner at the Dorothy Hart Community Center.
“This event gives both parents and kids a chance to get out and do something different after being at home for so long,” said Brown.
The evening’s activities will be guided by Chef Wendy, the founder of Kidz R Cookin’, who is committed to “planting seeds of healthy nutritional choices for children, youth and families.” Individual cooking stations will be set up and participants can choose from options of a personal pan pizza, a mini chicken Alfredo bake or stir-fry. The evening’s games will include mini golf, a mini pool table, and extra-large versions of checkers, chess, Uno, and Connect Four, as well as coloring sheets, crossword puzzles and word searches.
The dance party will be socially distanced and each child will stand in their own designated space, while the tunes—chosen by participants—keep rolling. All stations will be sanitized after each use and masks are required for staff and participants.
“I am excited to offer this program for parents and guardians who may need some down time or quality time for themselves, and it will be a memorable, fun-filled evening for the kids,” said Chef Wendy.
Preregistration is required—either online or by phone—for all activities.
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