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Camp season is just around the corner, and with hundreds of Fairfax County Park Authority camps in the mix, there’s no reason for a kid to declare “I’m bored” this spring and summer.

“The amount of camps to choose from is unbelievable,” said Stephanie Heffernan, a Northern Virginia mother who enrolled her two children in several Park Authority camps last summer. “There are so many options that fit all my kids’ different interests, and I love the option of full-day coverage.

That’s really great for working moms like me.” 9-year-old Zoe and 6-year-old Mike Heffernan had so much fun attending a variety of camps, they still talk about their adventures as if they just happened yesterday.

“I learned how to do a handstand on the vault and a cartwheel on the balance beam,” Zoe said with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader about Gymnastics and Dance Camp. Her brother, Mike, was equally impressed. “We got to bounce on the trampoline and go on the pull things [parallel bars],” he said. They were really fun!”

Adventures on the Farm Camp gave the energetic siblings hands-on experience learning what it was like to live on a Virginia farm in the 1930s. “We got to make ice cream how the old people made it back in the olden days,” Mike said, “and we got to milk a goat,” Zoe recalled as she matter-of-factly described the process. “You put this Vaseline stuff on your hands, and it was like pulling a greasy plug.”

They also got to meet the other farm animals like the pigs, the chickens and the horses as well as that colorful bird. “His name is Pigeon, but he’s a peacock,” Mike said. Farm Zoology Camp gave the children a chance to become naturalists. “I learned what animals eat and how they live in their habitats, and we learned about the Barred Owl and a big bird,” Zoe recalled, while Mike reflected on the time they went exploring. “We got to go on big walks and got to walk in the woods and eat snacks on rocks,” he said enthusiastically.

Art camp tapped into the children’s creative side while teaching them about art history. “We made pictures and had an art show,” said Zoe, while Mike recalled learning about famous artists “Mannow [a.k.a. Monet], Leonardo Da Vinci,” and his favorite, “Michelangelo, because that’s my name, Mike!”

While Zoe and Mike were engaged in meaningful activity throughout the summer, their mother, Stephanie, marveled at the level of instruction they were getting. “The camps are run by highenergy teachers who are experts in their field and who are supported by college-age counselors who work and play with the kids,” she said. “The program quality is great.” She says she plans to send her children on great adventures again this year in Fairfax County Park Authority camps.

A world of opportunity awaits children and teens at Laurel Hill Golf Club. The renowned program, named The First Tee, is for students age 7-18 and teaches golf skills and life skills encompassing core values that help young players flourish both on and off the golf course. It is being offered at Laurel Hill in partnership with The First Tee of Greater Washington, D.C.

Drew White’s journey began seven years ago, just after his grandfather introduced the then 10-year-old to the game and encouraged him to take lessons through The First Tee. His parents signed him up and White says it has helped him succeed in school, on the golf course and in building lasting friendships.

Core Values“They teach a lot of life skills and goal setting and they instilled in me the nine core values associated with golf,” said the Annandale High School senior. “They also teach you to build a ‘go-to’ team – people you can go to for help with golf, school or relationships.” White learned well and attained a 3.4-handicap skill level that made him eligible for opportunities that might have otherwise seemed unimaginable, like playing golf at world-famous courses and connecting with wellknown golf professionals and accomplished business leaders.

“There are thousands of opportunities at your doorstep; not just golf opportunities,” he said enthusiastically. “I got to play in the First Tee Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and met CEOs of companies and celebrities, and it was a ton of fun.” Through those connections came internship offers and a scholarship. White says he also had a ton of fun meeting Brandt Snedeker and dining with Phil Mickelson at a President’s Cup ceremony at the White House.

Perhaps his fondest memory is one from 2013 when the then 13-year-old Drew White was paired up to play in a pro-am tournament at Congressional Country Club with an 18-year-old, newly turned pro named Jordan Spieth.

“I had a ton of fun playing together with him,” White said enthusiastically. “He was helping me with my swing, and we played 11 holes together and then lightning moved in and we had to get off the course.”

White says he and the future Masters and U.S. Open champion bonded like brothers that day, and rather than eat in the pro players’ dining area, Spieth opted to join Drew and his father and coaches for lunch. White says Spieth continues to show an interest in what he’s doing. “He follows me on Twitter,” he said with a grin.

Today, in the same spirit that so many have nurtured in him, Drew White helps coach students enrolled in The First Tee program at Laurel Hill. “I love helping kids and want to spark that inspiration in them the way people helped me when I was their age,” he said.

Treat yourself and your family to some of the best nature watching in the region this spring at Huntley Meadows Park.

Spring rains fill the wetlands, and the warming weather causes an explosion of plant and animal life.

When combined with the unique, half-mile, wetland boardwalk trail and observation tower, visitors to this special place are treated to views of nature that aren’t easily seen, and this year, there’s a good chance you’ll see rare wildlife species that haven’t been seen in the park for years.

“The plant and wildlife communities in the wetland are flourishing as a result of the 2013 wetland restoration project,” said Huntley Meadows natural resource manager Dave Lawler. “As a result, we’re seeing more wildlife diversity here than we have in the past 12 years.”

For decades, Huntley Meadows Park has been known for its vast beauty, rich history, and as a home for rare birds, including King Rails, Virginia Rails, American Bitterns and Least Bitterns. But in the 1990s, urban growth and other environmental factors led to the wetland habitats’ decline, putting its standing as one of the best places in the region for bird watching in jeopardy. Thanks to the support of Fairfax County residents and continuing natural resource management, rare local and regional bird sightings are on the rise again as the habitat continues to mend.

Opportunities abound year-round to join a naturalist on a family walk, a beginning birding class or an evening stroll, and springtime is great time to be on the lookout for new arrivals. The park is open dawn to dusk, and early morning hours are best for birding while later afternoon is best to try your luck at beaver spotting. Huntley Meadows always holds surprises, so be on the lookout for its other watchable wildlife like muskrats, dragonflies and a long list of reptiles and amphibians at any time of day.

Stride Right with a Spring Hike

Stride Right with a Spring Hike

Need a cure for cabin fever? Take a hike! Hiking is a form of exercise that anyone can take up at any age, and Fairfax County is well-known for its picturesque and diverse trail system. Mapping your route is easy with the Park Authority’s online mapping tool, Trail Buddy. Connect with Trail Buddy at www.fairfaxcounty. gov/parks/trails, map your route and embark on a journey to clear your mind, get some exercise and enjoy our beautiful parks!

This year marks the 275th anniversary of Fairfax County, and the Park Authority is celebrating with commemorative activities throughout 2017! This spring, learn about some of Fairfax County’s milestone moments though commemorative day trips featured on page 98 that explore the area’s history. Mark your calendar for Springfest April 29 at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly, which will bring both past and present-day perspectives to healthy, sustainable living; and join the Park Authority along with many other cultural, historical and government organizations for Fairfax County’s main 275th anniversary celebration June 17 next to the historic Fairfax County Courthouse in Fairfax. Be sure to check Parktakes throughout the year for more commemorative activities that celebrate Fairfax County’s rich history!



Start the New Year working out on new fitness equipment at Fairfax County RECenters! Cutting-edge upgrades include new, 15-station Cybex Prestige weight-training circuits, belt-driven Startrack spin bikes and Startrack Max Racks. “The Startrack Max Racks give users the best of two worlds – the added safety of a traditional Smith machine along with the freedom of Olympic bar weight training,” said Park Authority fitness director Monica Phillips. “They are currently available at Lee District, Oak Marr and South Run RECenters.”

Newly installed Adaptive Motion Trainers (AMTs) challenge you with a combination of climbing, walking and running movements that use different muscle groups; the new Octane Zero Runner offers challenging workouts with minimum impact on joints; and specialty equipment such as Cub Run RECenter’s new Jacob’s Ladder offer challenging, functional workouts that mimic climbing and stepping.

You’ll also find updated traditional fitness room equipment in Park Authority RECenters, such as Woodway treadmills and elliptical machines, including the Octane seated elliptical for maximum results with minimum impact on joints. At Cub Run, larger new televisions in the fitness room are complemented by a new system called Audiofetch that allows you to use your smartphone to choose audio for a wide variety of television programming options.

New fitness room amenities vary by location. For more information, stop by or contact the fitness director at the RECenter of your choice, and start working on a new you for the New Year.

In just a few months, golfers will have access to Burke Lake Golf Center’s new, 64-station, doubledecker driving range. The foundation was poured in December, construction is continuing, and if all goes as planned, the new structure will open April 1, just in time for golf season.

“Players are excited about it,” golf center manager Lewis Musolf said. “The majority of comments we’ve been hearing are very, very positive.”

The new, lighted range with 24 heated stations will give players expanded practice and learning options year round. “It will be a better overall experience,” Musolf said. “The range will be open from sunrise to 10 p.m., seven days per week, and the heated stalls will allow us to offer classes year-round.” The range and expanded parking lot are just the beginning of Burke Lake Golf Center’s first major upgrade since it opened in 1970. By October, the facility is expected to open its new clubhouse featuring a new pro shop, an updated dining area and a shaded patio with outdoor seating along with Wi-Fi access from the buildings to the driving range. All construction is expected to be complete by December 2017. The new facility is being funded by the 2008 and 2012 park bonds.

Burke Lake Golf

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