Free day of family fun in the dunes

2014-05-30T00:00:00Z Free day of family fun in the dunesTimes Staff nwitimes.com
May 30, 2014 12:00 am  • 

PORTER | Dunes Learning Center’s National Get Outdoors Day open house is planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., June 14. Now in its seventh year, this annual nationwide event has one goal: to provide opportunities for families to reconnect with the great outdoors.

One of three participating sites in Indiana, Dunes Learning Center is located in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and is not generally open to the public. Thanks to local partners, visitors will have an opportunity to sample a wide range of outdoor activities among the park's wetlands, rivers, prairies and woodlands.

“This is a wonderful way for families to enjoy an active day outdoors, learn from experts, tour our facilities and explore this great National Park—all at no charge,” said Geof Benson, Executive Director of Dunes Learning Center.

The event will offer a number of activities and learning opportunities for visitors.

Dunes Learning Center's education staff will lead themed hikes throughout the day, including one to the Little Calumet River—where event partners, Save the Dunes, will offer visitors an opportunity to get "up close and personal" with the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. Kids can observe, identify, and learn about river creatures—and assess water quality—thanks to funding by the Lake Michigan Coastal Program.

Back at camp, national lakeshore rangers will unveil a new Passport to the Dunes program and help families get their first "stamp." Authors Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer will offer a scavenger hunt activity for kids and a chance to take home a copy of their “We Love Nature” keepsake journal. Northwest Indiana Paddling Association volunteers will lead “Introduction to Paddling Safely” classes every hour—a favorite activity at previous Get Outdoors Day events.

New this year—visitors can test drive an eco-car and help support Dunes Learning Center programs and scholarships. Event sponsors, Lakeshore Motors, invite you to "Drive for Your Community," at Get Outdoors Day and learn more about how transportation choices impact climate change. For those who would like to explore more active transportation choices, Trek Bicycle Store of Schererville will offer two-wheeled test drives.

Music, games, crafts and a picnic lunch will round out a full day of fun in the national park. Admission is free and all ages are welcome. Register online at duneslearningcenter.org/events.

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