For parents still pondering what to do with the kids this summer, Georgia State Parks offers affordable fun and outdoor adventures for every age level. No need to invest in pricey day camps this year either; Junior Ranger Camps are the perfect way to keep kids entertained and learning about the great outdoors, all at the same time. Families looking for a fun day trip can simply pack a lunch, grab a towel or bicycle, and head to Georgia’s State Parks for affordable recreation from swimming beaches and pools to miles of hiking and biking trails. And, by checking out a pass from a Georgia public library, families can access state parks and historic sites for free.
- Free Park Admission & Recreational Offerings (all ages)
Most Georgia State Parks offer playgrounds, picnic areas, miles of hiking and biking trails, and even wildlife viewing or nature centers. A library card is all you need to check out a ParkPass or Historic Site Pass at Georgia’s public libraries. The passes are good for free parking or admission at any of the 63 state parks and historic sites statewide. So, pack a heart-healthy picnic lunch and head to your favorite Georgia State Park for a fun-filled day of adventure in the great outdoors.
- Swimming Beaches, Pools and Splash Pad (all ages)
No need to deal with the crowds at the indoor playhouse or local water park to cool off this summer. Grab your sunscreen, swimming suits and enjoy the beach life at one of Georgia State Parks 18 free lakeside swimming beaches. And, for those families who prefer to lounge by the pool, there are six state parks that offer pools including Victoria Bryant, Magnolia Springs, Little Ocmulgee, High Falls, George T. Bagby and F.D Roosevelt. Little Ocmulgee State Park & Lodge also offers a Splash Pad sure to please the youngest water lovers.
- Junior Ranger Day Camps (ideal for young explorers ages 6-12)
Kids ages 6 to 12 are invited to explore Georgia’s wildlife, nature and fascinating history first-hand as they earn their way through three badge levels. Nature hikes, arts and crafts, water games, fishing and outdoor cooking are just a few of the daily camp workshops offered at Georgia’s state parks. With more than a dozen Junior Ranger Day Camps offered through end of July, kids can meet new friends as they build self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. And, parents can have the satisfaction of knowing their children are entertained and learning an appreciation for the great outdoors. Families can also pick up a free Junior Ranger Activity Book at any state park or historic site and work through the activity requirements at their own pace. Receive the latest park news and learn more about Georgia by subscribing to The Georgia Junior Ranger, free e-newsletter. Camps are also listed at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/JuniorRanger.
Junior Ranger Camps & Family-Friendly Events
Below is a sampling of Junior Ranger Camps offered at Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites beginning the week of June 4. A full calendar of events is found at www.GeorgiaStateParks.org/events.
Summer Horseback Riding Camp:
Monday, June 4 through Friday, June 8 (Age 10-16)
Monday, June 11 through Friday, June 15 (Age 6-10)
Monday, June 18 through Friday, June 22 (Age 6-16)
F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain
Each day we spend mornings working with the horses and riding. Afternoons we will swim and have arts and crafts. The last day we spend the morning on a Lunch Ride and an afternoon program for parents. Register far in advance. Cabins and campsites may be available at the park. $5 parking. (706) 628-7463.
Archery Day Camp:
Tuesday, June 5 through Thursday, June 7
Laura S. Walker State Park – Waycross
Campers will learn archery skills and techniques through international-style target practice, 3-D shooting and other games. Other outdoor activities will include wildlife presentations, outdoor exploration, fishing, and hunting safety. Ages 9-14. $50 plus $5 parking. (229) 430-1847.
Unicoi Family Camp:
Monday, June 11 through Friday, June 15. 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Unicoi State Park and Lodge – Helen
Make your family vacation memorable by spending time in fun classes at this mountain park. No age limits. Register in advance. $30 adult/$20 child. $5 parking. (706) 878-2201 ext. 305.
Tuesday, June 12 through Friday, June 15, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Crooked River State Park – St. Marys
Kids age 11-15 can enjoy four days of outdoor adventure. Kayaking, solar astronomy, hiking, outdoors skills, photography, and environmental education and more. Space is limited, reservations required. $95 plus $5 parking. (912) 882-5256.
Mad Science Cam:p
Tuesday, June 12 through Friday, June 15, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tuesday, July 17 through Friday, July 20, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Smithgall Woods State Park – Helen
Nature is full of science lessons, but you probably won’t be doing these experiments at school. Each day of camp will provide a new understanding of the underlying principles of the natural world, made fun through safe experiments that have a big impact. $75. (706) 878-3087.
Junior Ranger Day Camp:
Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Panola Mountain State Park – Stockbridge
This 5-day program will introduce kids ages 6-12 to the wonders of the outdoors. Activities include hiking, fishing, frog hunting, bug catching, bird watching, craft making, geocaching, orienteering and more. Bring lunch and snacks. Badge ceremony and family picnic will be held July 13 at 11:30. Register in advance. $60 plus $5 parking. (770) 389-7801.
Art Camp in Adel:
Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Reed Bingham State Park – Adel
Kids ages 9 and older will learn different art styles and mediums while creating art pieces of their own. Kids will learn how to express themselves though art and make friends in the process. Friday, kids will present their art in a parent gallery to show off their work. $45 plus $5 parking. (229) 896-3551.
Camp Reed Bingham (Ages 10-14):
Monday, July 16 through Friday, July 20, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Reed Bingham State Park – Adel
Children ages 10-14 will enjoy learning survival skills, animal ID, hiking and camping skills. Register in advance. $45 plus $5 parking. (229) 896-3551.
Georgia State Parks offer affordable overnight options from traditional campsites and cottages, to yurts and even hotel-style lodge rooms. For more information, visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org or to make reservations call 1-800-864-7275.