• Three kayakers enjoying the river.

    Chattahoochee River

    National Recreation Area Georgia

Hyde Farm Outdoor Experience

Enjoying the campfire.

Enjoying the campfire.

The evening entertainment was a delight to all…a musician and storyteller who combined stories from years ago with more contemporary "scary stories". Students got to participate in a storytelling workshop, which was performed in front of the audience, and had an opportunity to try their hand at various "old-time" instruments (such as spoons, washboard, limerick, and other rhythm instruments). Night sky viewing was an optional late-night activity and viewers were awed by the sight of Jupiter.

The next morning, participants had a hot breakfast which had been cooked in Dutch ovens on-site. A Leave No Trace program was provided, followed by station rotations to give kids "hands-on" experiences with butter churning, washing clothes on a washboard, plowing, sack races, and a nature walk.

The program was a huge success. The campers had a fun time, and learned some valuable lessons along the way. In total, there were 55 participants (student campers and their chaperone, and Brumby Elementary school staff), 10 NPS staff members, 3 Cobb County staff members, and 12 volunteers who assisted during the overnight camping experience. All food items were generously donated by Harry's/Whole Foods Market.

The students kept journals of their camping experience. Below is a collection of their entries.

 
Park ranger Nancy Walther shows first time campers how to set up a tent.

Park ranger Nancy Walther shows first time campers how to set up a tent.

With funding provided by the National Park Foundation, through an "America's Best Ideas" grant, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area hosted its second of two overnight camping experiences at newly acquired Hyde Farm. The purpose of this program was to provide an opportunity for inner-city Title I students to connect with their national parks, participate in an overnight camping adventure with a parent or guardian, and get involved in the out-of-doors. Out of a total of 48 campers…only 4 had ever been camping…so this was a new and unique experience for a great many.

Participants were provided a unique opportunity to learn about and experience what life was life back in the 19th and 20th centuries through "real-life" activities and learning adventures. Upon arrival at the farm, students (along with their parent chaperone) were greeted by NPS staff, Cobb County staff, and volunteers to assist with tent set-up, followed by a time of cane-pole fishing. For many, the idea of putting a worm on a hook was frightening…but in retrospect…many agreed they would do it again. After the fishing experience, participants were taken on an historic walk of the property (which was settled in the 1830s-40s). Supper followed…which was heated atop campfire coals. Smiles abounded as participants sat around the campfire, enjoying a hot meal comprised of "silver turtles" (meat and vegetables wrapped in aluminum foil).

 

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