By JIM MAURER
There are a variety of activities and outdoor opportunities available in Findlay and Hancock County for residents and visitors who want to stay close to home, attend free or inexpensive programs, and experience events, hikes and entertainment during the summer months.
Recreation opportunities for families and individuals at Findlay’s Recreation Department and Van Buren State Park were reported in previous stories.
Featured today will be the Hancock Park District, which offers a number of programming and summer camp opportunities.
A schedule for June, July and August and a program guide are available online.
The park district will offer summer camps for youngsters 6 years old to 15 years old with themes ranging from the lives of pioneer girls and boys to outdoor adventures and from plants to fishing and animals. Fees range from $20 to $45. Registration forms are available online or at the park district office. Payment is due with registration.
June programs include:
- June 18 — Nature journaling, 7-8:30 p.m., Oakwoods Nature Preserve.
- June 21 — Astronomy day and star party, 7 p.m., Riverbend Recreation Area.
- June 28 — Family candy hike, 9-11 a.m., Aeraland Recreation Area; fee, $2 per person by June 27.
- June 30 — Wee Ones: the farm, 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 7 p.m., Litzenberg Memorial Woods, for children 3 years old and under accompanied by an adult. The program includes a story, activities and a craft.
July programs include:
- July 11 — “Stars in the Sky,” portable planetarium show about constellations, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Discovery Center, Oakwoods Nature Preserve; pizza and drinks available; fee, $5 per person by July 10.
- July 12 — 5th annual “Flirt with the Dirt,” 5-kilometer trail race and walk, 8:30 a.m., Riverbend Recreation Area. Registration begins 7:30 a.m. in Brugeman Lodge at Riverbend. Fee, $18 by June 27, includes T-shirt, and $25 after the deadline and on race day. Registration forms are available online at park district website and online registration available at bvhealthsystem.org.
- July 18 — Last quarter moon hike, 9 p.m., Litzenberg Memorial Woods, meet at gate house near parking lot. The hike will begin the park district’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing.
- July 28 — Wee Ones: Marvelous Mud, 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., Discovery Center, Oakwoods Nature Preserve, for children 3 years old and under accompanied by an adult. Program includes a story, activities and a craft.
August programs include:
- Aug. 9 — Kids in the Park: Wildlife at Night, 7 p.m., Riverbend Recreation Area, meet by Shelter 3, featuring an evening hike to explore animals at night through the forest.
- Aug. 16 — “No Child Left Indoors,” 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Oakwoods Nature Preserve, various groups will offer outdoor activities for youngsters 6-17 years old, accompanied by an adult. The national movement provides nature and conservation activities including fishing, archery, canoeing/kayaking, BB gun shooting, and tree stand safety. All skill levels eligible. Registration required to Marc Plesec, 419-722-6771.
- Aug. 17 — “Making Art with Nature,” 1-4 p.m., Discovery Center, Oakwoods Nature Preserve, featuring Leaf rubbings, painting with pine needles and creating leaf critters with natural materials. Open to all age groups.
- Aug. 23 — “Spaceflight Simplified,” 9 p.m., Riverbend Recreation Area, meet at Shelter 5, featuring discussion about overcoming gravity and using it in space. Discussion will not be technical and will include images from space.
A number of activities from yoga to fishing to disc golf are available at the park district properties, including Oakwoods Nature Preserve, Riverbend Recreation Area and Litzenberg Memorial Woods and farm.
Zonta Landing boat rentals are open through Labor Day. Canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available from 1-7 p.m. on weekends and holidays on the waterfront at Riverside Park. Rates are $5 per half hour or $25 for all-day canoe trip. Group rentals and all-day float trips can be arranged for other times by contacting the park district office at least two weeks in advance.
Public fishing areas include Shank Lake and Dold Lake at Oakwoods Nature Preserve, where fishing is by bank or boat. Boats may have electric trolling motors but not create a wake.
Other fishing areas include: Giertz Lake at Riverbend Recreation Area and the old reservoir at Riverside Park. Loaner poles are available at the park district office if contacted in advance. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
An 18-hole disc golf course and three sand volleyball courts are available at Riverbend.
A primitive campground is located at Riverbend. Advance registration is required at the park district office.
Playground structures are at Riverbend, Oakwoods and Litzenberg parks.
The “K-9 Field of Dreams” dog park at Riverbend is open from dawn to dusk daily at Riverbend. The dog park has two areas, one for large dogs and one for small dogs, and an outdoor shelter. Rules and regulations are posted online and at the site. The park is an off-leash, one-acre site where dogs can run in a fenced area.
There are 10 outdoor shelters which can be reserved at the park district office. Locations include Riverbend, Riverside and Litzenberg. Each shelter has electricity, charcoal grills, picnic tables and trash cans.
Also, Brugeman Lodge at Riverbend holds up to 240 people and is an all-year banquet hall. A rate card can be downloaded from the park district website, along with a lodge contract and fact sheets. Open houses at the lodge are held from 6-8 p.m. on the last Monday monthly, when a service ranger is available to answer questions and provide an information packet. Reservations can be made at the park district office or via mail with fee payment.
The park district rents the Waterfalls Pavilion at Riverside Park. All other shelters at Riverside are reserved through the city recreation department.
A rental rate schedule for park district buildings is available on the park district website.
Meanwhile, work continues at the park district’s newest acquisitions, Aeraland Recreation Area, on Washington Township 243 north of Arcadia, and Blanchard River Nature Preserve, near Mount Blanchard.
Some portions of Aeraland are open to the public and a shelter house is available. Blanchard River Nature Preserve has not been opened to the public.
More information is available on the park district website, www.HancockParks.com. The website has information on public programs and educational programs; a monthly calendar, park information with park amenities, concessions, including boat rental information, park maps and brochures, and recreational opportunities. People may register for the park district’s free electronic newsletter, “Raccoon Tales,” at the website. Newsletters are sent out twice monthly and include information and events.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of tasks in the parks. Contact Tifani Boltz-Heywood, marketing manager, at the park district office.
The park district also has a Facebook page, which is updated daily. Park district program guides are printed every two months with information about public programs and seasonal concessions. They are available online and at the Chamber, The Cube, Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, Ohio State University Extension and at all park district enclosed buildings. Information also is available at the park district headquarters, 1424 E. Main Cross St., Findlay, or call 419-425-7275.
Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer