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Project encourages kids to GO outdoors

If you’re looking for a good summer project for the kids, check out Project Get Outdoors at Chester Woods. During the weekly program, kids will canoe, fish, hike, go bird watching and much more. It’s open to kids grades kindergarten through eighth, and volunteers will introduce kids to all the fun things you can do outside (climb trees, catch frogs, chase butterflies, build sand castles) for cheap or free with no batteries or electrical outlet required.

"Our goal is to get kids comfortable being outside, get them excited about it, and teach them activities they can do outdoors during every season of the year," says Sara Grover, Whitewater State Park naturalist and Project GO founder. "And it’s working. We see kids becoming really passionate about being outside."

Project GO is a nonprofit organization housed at Whitewater State Park. The organization started offering volunteer-led outdoor youth programming in 2005. They are currently piloting programs in Olmsted and five nearby counties, working closely with other local organizations, including Boy Scouts, 4-H and Audubon societies.

"When we started this in 2005, we weren’t even a nonprofit yet, just a group of people who thought that getting kids outdoors, introducing them to parks and trails, and showing them the green areas they can play in was really important," says Grover, mom to two daughters (ages 6 and 8) who love being outdoors "catching frogs and tadpoles with their hands, building clothesline forts, sledding, snowshoeing and getting muddy."

Project GO works by recruiting community volunteers to coordinate local Project GO activities. "What we’d really like to see is one person in a community who oversees the local Project GO," says Grover, who notes that they are looking for a year-round volunteer coordinator in Rochester.

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Call to register. Parents are welcome and encouraged to come along. Free, but $5 daily or $25 annual Chester Woods fee applies. Remember to slap on the sunscreen and bug spray and bring a water bottle.

Family Time is written by Lindy Lange, editor of www.ROCHESTERfamilies.com.

If you go

What: Project Get Outdoors at Chester Woods

Where: Chester Woods, 8378 U.S. 14 E., Eyota

When: Tuesdays, June 16 through Aug. 11, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

E-mail: sara.grover@yahoo.com

On the Web: www.projectgetoutdoors.org

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Other opportunities

• Get outdoors and into games, crafts and other activities at 4-H Project in the Park Day Camp. Designed for kids who’ve completed grades K through 3, the one-day camps (9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) are $15. Camps available June, July and August in locations including Rochester, Byron, Stewartville, Pine Island and Eyota. Register soon, space is limited. Registration form available online, www.extension.umn.edu/county/template/index.aspx?countyID=55#.

• Sundays at Quarry Hill offers families the opportunity to go outside and get back to nature. Programs start at 1:30 p.m. and are offered the first (topic is birds) and third (topic is the Quarry Hill caves) Sundays of each month through August. $2 adults, $1 child. Call to register, 281-6114. Find out more at www.qhnc.org.

• Chester Woods offers family-friendly programming most Saturdays this summer. Activities include nature walks, a moonlight paddle, a summer solstice hike and the annual butterfly count. Go online for a complete schedule, www.co.olmsted.mn.us/parks/cw_park_programs.asp.

Inside

• More family calendar — Page C3.

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