BY REGINA GARGANO
Executive director, Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau
It’s June, and the weather is warming up. School has just about finished. Graduation ceremonies are in full swing. Summer officially begins this month and I, for one, am very happy about that! Summer is my favorite season with its blue skies, warm sunshine and long, long days.
June is National Great Outdoors Month so make plans to get outside! As we speak, there are more than 200 paddlers on the Schuylkill River for the Sojourn. Today, they’ll reach their destination of Boathouse Row in Philadelphia after paddling 112 miles since Saturday from The Irish Flats in Schuylkill Haven. All this past week, the sojourners have enjoyed kayaking, camping and award-winning natural and historical programming as part of the week-long Schuylkill Sojourn.
Paddling our lakes and river is just one of the many activities celebrated during National Great Outdoors Month. Hiking, biking, fishing, camping, bird-watching, picnicking and nature exploration are part of the celebration, too. It’s no coincidence that National Trails Day is June 1, National Get Outdoors Day is June 8, Outdoor Stewardship Week is June 10-14 and The Great American Campout is June 22. After all, the entire month is about the tons of different activities for both young and old to escape the indoors and head outside to enjoy all that the natural world has to offer.
America’s kids are facing an outdoor crisis. I do not know why, and I won’t venture to guess here, but just one generation ago, kids spent more than four hours a day outside. (I was one of those kids.) Kids now spend less than 40 minutes per week outside.
Being outside has a multitude of health benefits. Children who engage in active, fun outdoor activities are more likely to be physically fit, have better eyesight, improved cognitive development, greater awareness and concern for nature, stronger emotional resilience, improved sleep and a whole host of other physical and psychological benefits. I’m pretty sure that adults spending time outdoors enjoy all these benefits, too. I’m also pretty sure that adults and children spending time together outdoors yield the best possible benefits of all!
Some organized outdoor activities in our community that you might want to consider trying are: Hawk Mountain’s Family Fun in Nature on June 15 and Full Moon Family Fun on June 16; Schuylkill On the Move’s Pilgur Ruh Hike with John Domalakes on Sunday, West Creek to Crystal Falls Hike with Hiker Jim on June 15 and the Long Loop Hike with Robin Tracey on June 22; Sweet Arrow Lake County Park’s How Indians Communicated with Dave “Big Owl” McSurdy on Sunday and Yoga & Mindfulness Walking with Porcupine Pat on Tuesday.
Even if you aren’t interested in organized outdoor activities, Schuylkill County has plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures everyday. Our three state parks, Sweet Arrow Lake County Park, Valley View Park, Hegins Park, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the Schuylkill River, Famous Reading Outdoors, the Appalachian Trail, Rausch Creek, several campgrounds, numerous creeks and streams and countless trails provide endless opportunities in the outdoors for family fun, togetherness, adventure and making memories.
If you go to our website, www.schuylkill.org, under “Maps” you will find the Schuylkill County Trail Directory, Schuylkill County Birding Trail, Birding Checklist and the Schuylkill County Outdoor Recreation Map. In fact, you can find a ton of information and resources on our website. Our Schuylkill Summer Passport to Fun is on there. If you click on “Blog,” you’ll find our Top 10 Things to Do in Schuylkill County and Top 10 Things for Kids to Do in Schuylkill County. Our “Events” tab takes you directly to SkooCal.com. “Pour Tours” takes you directly to our craft beverage trail. It really is a one-stop shop.
There are many things happening in June that aren’t related to National Great Outdoors Month and you can find them on our website at www.schuylkill.org or stop in and pay us a visit at Union Station in Pottsville, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. We’re happy to help you enjoy the plentiful resources of our community.