Families will have a great opportunity to sample a wide range of outdoor activities at no cost in celebration of National Get Outdoors Day on June 9.
Part of Leave no Child Inside Month, this unique event will be held at Dunes Learning Center from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm and will feature opportunities for children of all ages to experience outdoor activities from kayaking to earth caching.
Located in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Dunes Learning Center is not generally open to the public, but thanks to local partners -- and funding by BP through Chicago Wilderness, among others -- naturalists from Dunes Learning Center will help families experience the park's wetlands, rivers, prairies, dunes and woodland. Those hiking the Little Calumet River will catch, identify, learn about and release river creatures. Kids participating in the "Great Migration Challenge," will learn about the hazards and helpers that animals encounter during their long distance journey.
"We invite families to come out and consider ways to make outdoor recreation a part of a healthy lifestyle and explore this great National Park," said John Hayes, Executive Director of Dunes Learning Center. "We are pleased to present this program with the assistance of so many area community organizations and businesses that recognize the importance of connecting our kids to nature."
Among the participating organizations offering outdoor opportunities is the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, whose members will be introducing kids to kayaking and demonstrating skills and safety.
Highlighting efforts to combat indoor, inactive lifestyles that are fueling the nation's obesity epidemic, fitness instructors from Community Hospital Fitness Pointe® will engage families in a fun outdoor workout leaping over logs, doing tree pushups and more.
EarthCaching, outdoor games, nature-inspired arts and crafts and a campfire, complete with s'mores are also planned.
"BP and Whiting Refinery are proud to be partnering with Chicago Wilderness, Dunes Learning Center and supporting organizations to provide local kids with a fun, outdoor experience in one of the most bio-diverse regions in North America," said Brad Etlin, Director of Government Affairs, BP. "This is about getting our kids outdoors to learn about, and fully appreciate, the natural treasures around them."
National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) is led by the U.S. Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition with the goal of encouraging visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.
In celebration of Leave No Child Inside Month, Chicago Wilderness alliance partners --including Dunes Learning Center -- are celebrating by offering dozens of outdoor events for families across Northwest Indiana, Northeast Illinois and Southwest Wisconsin.
"Leave No Child Inside Month events are designed to bring families together around enriching experiences in nature and inspire the curiosity that leads to a life-long connection to the natural world," said Melinda Pruett-Jones, Executive Director, Chicago Wilderness. These goals are shared by the Dunes Learning Center and the National Park Service as they work together to develop life-long connections between the public and the parks.
Sponsorship assistance for this program is provided by: National Park Service; BP, Chicago Wilderness; Community Hospital Fitness Pointe®; The Lakeshore 89.1 FM; Northwest Indiana Paddling Association; Times Media Company; and Whosur Associates.