RUSKIN - In less than three weeks summer will be over for area schoolchildren. They'll soon be boarding buses and heading off to their classrooms.
But before the school year begins Aug. 20 there's still time to head to Camp Bayou for some serious fun outdoors. And what better time to visit than during the sixth annual Back to School - Back to Nature?
On Aug. 3 Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center will host the sixth annual event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Kids can learn all about frogs, fossils, water insects and ant lions while enjoying lots of hands-on, nature-related activities designed to spark their curiosity.
While they go from station to station and share in the fun, the children are given school supplies, including pens and pencils, crayons, glue, spiral notebooks and bookmarks. Every 30 minutes, backpacks, gift certificates and other items will be raffled off.
"Back to School - Back to Nature is a great way for kids and their parents or grandparents to spend a morning together before the pressures of school begin, and to get some free school supplies," said Dolly Cummings, outdoor learning center manager. "It's a very fast-paced event, and everyone who comes has a great time."
While on site, kids and their parents can check out Camp Bayou's Nature Center and Paleo Preserve fossil museum; a replicated Ucita Indian village; expansive bug collection; photo exhibits; and artifacts displays. The preserve will be open until 2 p.m. for exploration and trail walking.
Organizations participating in this year's event include Conserve It Forward; Girl Scouts of West Central Florida; Sensing Nature Inc.; University of Florida Gulf Coast Research Center; Florida Division of Forestry and the Florida Youth Conservation Network.
Camp Bayou is a project of Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery Inc. in partnership with the Ruskin Community Development Foundation and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. It's located three miles south of State Road 674 at the end of 24th Street Southeast.
For more information, visit www.campbayou.org or call (813) 641-8545. Online registration is requested for planning purposes but kids can register the day of the event, as well.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Back to School - Back to Nature
WHERE: Camp Bayou Nature Preserve, 4140 24th St. S.E., Ruskin
WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon, Aug. 3
ACTIVITIES: Hands-on, nature-related games and challenges; exhibits; nature trails; Paleo Preserve fossil museum
INFORMATION: (813) 641-8545 or www.campbayou.org