CHESTERTON | Celebrate the outdoors with adventure, art and music this weekend at the Dunes Learning Center.
National Get Outdoors Day activities will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 8 at the center, 700 Howe Road in Chesterton. Adventurers of all ages can check out trail hikes, river exploration, kayak demonstrations and camp crafts. Other activities include an art exhibition focusing on native birds, an interactive art installation, live music and lunch on the lawn.
The annual event is entirely kid friendly, said Sandi Weindling, director of marketing and learning development.
During last year’s celebration, which had 375 attendees, Weindling saw kids stay for hours and want to stay longer. They can go from activity to activity, she said. It’s great for short attention spans and lots of energy.
This year’s attendees can help environmental artist Bonnie Zimmer in the creation of a temporary collaborative sculpture made from recycled and found materials.
"I can't think of a more fun way to spend a day," Zimmer said in a news release from the learning center. "Not knowing what we will come up with is very liberating.”
Weindling said after the large installation is complete, they will photograph it and return it all back to where it came. “Her work is wonderful. We’re really excited she’s participating and she is, too.”
“There’s something for every age group,” Weindling said. “We have toddlers who just like to play in the courtyard with balls and jump ropes. For kids who want more of a challenge or want to learn something, there are opportunities for that as well.”
The parents enjoy running and exploring too, she said. Organizers were surprised when 50 people came to a bird hike last year,.
“I think the birds were a little intimidated but everyone who went reported they had a great time,” Weindling said.
This year’s event highlights birds in a new way with artist Melissa Washburn’s multimedia works depicting native perching birds on exhibit.
Washburn received a grant in 2012 from the Indiana Arts Commission to work on a series of mixed media pieces depicting some of the migratory bird species that can be seen in the Dunes area of Northwest Indiana. Learn more about her work at www.melissawashburn.com. Admission to Get Outdoors is free and open to the public. For information, call (219) 395-9555. Registration is required and can be done online at www.duneslearningcenter.org.