Memories are made at Wind Creek State Park.
Families spend summer vacations camping along the shores of Lake Martin. Children spend the days swimming, riding bikes, sharing meals with family and enjoying programs at the clubhouse in the center of the campground.
During a typical summer, activities are already underway, but the coronavirus is changing the educational programs Marijean Hadley loves to organize and present to children enjoying the park.
“I miss doing the activities,” Hadley said. “It’s right up my alley.”
Hadley’s programs have elements of education and fun built into them. Although Hadley is doing everything she can to ensure lessons are still fun, COVID-19 restrictions have forced her to change things up. For example, this week’s lesson on birds looks a lot different than years past.
“Previously we have done things in the clubhouse,” Hadley said. “We would have talked about birds and how their beaks affect how they eat.”
In the past, Hadley would help the children make a bird feeder as an arts and crafts project as others observed the collection of mounted and live animals in the clubhouse. Now there is little interaction between Hadley and the children due to social distancing and trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hadley came up with an alternative.
“Now I have printed out a lesson that shows the beaks and how it affects feeding,” Hadley said. “The kit also contains all of the things to make a feeder.”
The kits are designed for children to take back to their campsites and complete with their families.
Hadley will get some interaction with the children rotating through Wind Creek over the summer. The kits Hadley and staff have put together will be distributed on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting at 10 a.m. today on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each kit is for a different lesson.
“We have a program on owls,” Hadley said. “Part of the lesson is making owls from longleaf pine cones. There is another program on spiders using pine cones. We cover turtles. To cover recycling we make a windsock out of a water bottle.”
Snake education is one of Hadley’s favorite lessons to teach, but what she said is the best part will not be an option this year.
“We have a nature center with snakes,” Hadley said. “In the past (children) have been able to hold a snake but sadly not now.”
Hadley and other volunteers at Wind Creek State Park have other family-friendly programs including movie night at dark, about 7:45 p.m. on Fridays. Hadley said a few changes have been made to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines.
“I don’t think we will have any problems,” Hadely said. “We will put signs up and make announcements about social distancing. Family groups can sit together.”
Hadley said movies haven’t started yet despite volunteers’ best efforts.
“We have tried it three times already,” Hadley said. “We have had to cancel it three times for rain.”