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Junior Rangers will learn outdoor survival skills

Posted: January 12, 2014 - 1:01am
Mistletoe State Park volunteer Jerry Smith shows children how to start a campfire during last year's Junior Ranger program. The park is offering three programs this winter.  Special Photo
Special Photo
Mistletoe State Park volunteer Jerry Smith shows children how to start a campfire during last year's Junior Ranger program. The park is offering three programs this winter.

The outdoors were brutal last week with temperatures dipping into the teens, but officials at Mistletoe State Park want area residents to know the park is open year-round and programs are offered throughout the winter months.

“Visitation to the park drops tremendously once winter hits,” said program assistant Brenda Bettross. “I hope people realize their Georgia state parks can be utilized year-round.”

To encourage visitation at the park, Mistletoe is offering a number of Junior Ranger Programs during the winter. The first one will be held on Jan. 20 for children ages 8-12. The Outdoor Survival Skills program will teach junior rangers how to build a shelter from materials provided by nature, as well as prepare a fire without a match. Youngsters will also learn what to cook over an open fire.

The second Junior Ranger Program will be held on Feb. 17. Wildlife Adventure is being offered to children ages 6-12. This program will focus on wildlife that live in the park.

“Children will discover how wildlife survives in the winter, dissect owl pellets, meet the park snake, feed the birds and create a wildlife craft,” said Bettross.

The third Junior Ranger program being offered this winter will be held on March 14. Preparing for Spring is for children ages 6-12.

“Spring will be coming and with spring brings nature awakening,” explained Bettross. “Junior Rangers will enjoy a bird hike while looking for birds that are migrating north, build a birdhouse and feed the birds.”

Participants will also help prepare the butterfly gardens by planting butterfly-attracting plants and creating a spring craft.

The cost of each of the Junior Ranger programs is $20 and each program is limited to 15 youngsters. Registration for each program must be made in advance. All Junior Ranger programs are held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bettross notes that cottages and campsites at the park are still available to rent during the winter months. The state typically runs a winter special on cottage rentals, so visit the Web site at www.gastateparks.org for more information.

“The hiking trails are open year-round and this is a good time for Scout groups to schedule a group program,” she said. “There are beautiful sunsets and sunrises over the lake this time of year, and the lake is full!”

For more information about programs being offered at Mistletoe State Park this month, call (706) 541-0321.

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