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Outdoors & Environmental Newsletter | July 2010 | VBgov.com/Parks

July is Parks & Recreation Month!


VBPRSince 1985, Americans have celebrated national Parks and Recreation Month in July to recognize the importance of parks and recreation in establishing and maintaining the quality of life for, and contributing to the physical, economic and environmental well-being of communities.
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Add Some Adventure to Your Park Visits 
by Stacy Sanders, Outdoor Programs Team
GPS DeviceAdd a little challenge and adventure on your next park visit by participating in a sport known as Geocaching. Geocaching is like a game of hide and seek where one person hides an object for others to find using GPS coordinates. A geocacher can place a geocache anywhere in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS device can then try to locate the geocache.
For example, I have a geocache hidden in the park in front of my house. I disguised a peanut butter jar using the leaves from the area and hid the jar in a hole near the base of a tree. Inside the jar I put a small notepad and pen. Using a GPS device, I identified the coordinates and uploaded them onto the national Geocaching registry. Now others know the coordinates and can try to find my cache. Once found, most people log their name, register as "found" on their geocache account and move on to the next one.  
Geocaches come in all different shapes and sizes. One common container is an ammo box. These are nice to find on one's first time out, because they are large and are usually in places which are easily accessible. Other containers, known as "micros" are harder to find, but once found there is a sense of accomplishment due to the greater challenge. 
For more information, go to Geocaching.com. Happy Hunting!
Mobile Field Guide for Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Mobile Field GuideNeed a little help identifying a plant or animal species in the area? The Chesapeake Bay Trust offers a mobile Field Guide to the Chesapeake Bay that can be used to access information about ALL of the plants and animals of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The Field Guide to the Chesapeake Bay is among the most interactive of all the field guides on the market. It provides bird calls, pinchable photos, range maps, identifiable characteristics of animals, and more. It has advanced search functions and is designed to be visually appealing and user friendly.   
Allen Hance, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust, stated that the app will help the Trust "reach a new generation of supporters and volunteers to advance our efforts to protect and restore the Bay."
Available initially to iPhone users, the new mobile app is available from by visiting the Apple Appstore from an iPhone and searching for Chesapeake Wildlife. The guide is free and a quick download.
Youth Step Up to the Challenge at Camp 
by Anne Marie Studds, Outdoor Programs Team 
When I think of summer, I think of camp. I was never actually a camper; my experience has always been on the other side. I have been with the City of Virginia Beach for almost 18 years, and in that time I have done many, many camps. There have been camps focused on art, bugs, nature, cooking, the jungle, fairy tales and even a construction camp. While I have always had fun planning and leading these camps, one by far stands out as a favorite: the Ropes and Initiatives Camp.

Anne Marie assists campers with equipment.
Ropes Campers
The Ropes and Initiatives Camp is a collaborative effort with Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation and the Virginia Beach School System. It is held at the Challenge Works Ropes Course owned by the School System and gives campers aged 12-15 the opportunity to challenge themselves in many ways. Campers can climb a 20 foot telephone pole to a trapeze swing, manipulate themselves up a vertical playpen to a reward of a swing 40 feet in the air, and walk across a telephone pole suspended by two trees with their eyes closed (all of these are done on belay of course!). This camp also provides opportunities for teens to branch out and enhance communication skills, increase self confidence and experience healthy risks.

Campers challenge themselves on the course.
Ropes Course
The camp is offered each summer for two weeks. First there is a Level I camp, which is a great introduction to the course, how the belay system works and opportunities to work together as a team and give support so that each camper feels comfortable enough to take the challenges offered. The Level II camp provides all the same opportunities, but teaches participants how to tie knots and allows them the chance to assist the belay team as Back-up Belayers. While it seems like the camp might be all about climbing, I have found that many of the participants have such great communication skills and are so supportive that they really excel at the belaying. This role allows them to shine and step up to be leaders.
After campers have experienced Level I, they almost all sign up for Level II. While I love to see the kids grow and develop their skills, what really excites me and makes me feel like this camp is such a great success is the large number of participants who come back and volunteer their time to work the camp the next summer. To see their growth over such a short time is amazing!

Looking for a way to challenge yourself? Consider our vertical rock wall at Seatack Rec Center. If you are interested in a climb with a bit of a twist, hit the pool at the Kempsville Rec Center for AquaClimb, an aquatic rock climbing wall that is both challenging and fun. Whatever your personal challenge is, take it and watch yourself grow!
SunscreenProtecting yourself from the sun should always be a priority when heading outdoors in the summer months. Below are tips from the FDA on purchasing and applying sunscreen. 
Check product labels to make sure you get:
  • A "sun protection factor" (SPF) of 15 or more. SPF represents the degree to which a sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburn. The higher the number, the better the protection.
  • "Broad spectrum" protection-sunscreen that contains products which protect against both UVA UVB rays.
  • Water resistance-sunscreen that stays on your skin longer, even if it gets wet. "Water-resistant" does not mean "waterproof." Water-resistant sunscreens need to be reapplied as instructed on the label.
Tips for applying sunscreen:
  • Apply the recommended amount evenly to all uncovered skin, especially your lips, nose, ears, neck, hands, and feet.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going out in the sun.
  • If you don't have much hair, apply sunscreen to the top of your head, or wear a hat.
  • Reapply at least every two hours. 
Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation believes all of our diverse citizens have a right to participate in community recreation and we are committed to creating equal access for everyone who may have a challenge or barrier. If you or your child requires additional support, we can help.  Learn more about our accommodation and inclusion services.
We welcome your comments and questions.  Feel free to email us at fun@vbgov.com.
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