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There are so many ways to play in parks; you could schedule a different activity for every day of your summer vacation! Make a summer splash at the Water Mine Family Swimmin’Hole at Lake Fairfax in Reston, or sail into Our Special Harbor sprayground and the rest of the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park in Franconia, or take a break from the summer sun and plunge into a pool at all nine Fairfax County Park Authority RECenters.

If you’re into fun and games, you’ll love playing mini golf any of the Park Authority’s four courses, not to mention riding on a carousel or a train, or jumping on a wagon for a hayride. Travel on the water by setting sail in a pedal boat at Lake Accotink or Burke Lake Park, or rent a canoe or kayak at Riverbend Park and enjoy spectacular summer nature scenes at the water’s edge.

Take a hike in our scenic parks and check out seasonal blooms, birds and tall timber along the way. There are more than 400 miles of trails in Fairfax County, and you can map your route with the Park Authority’s Trail Buddy mapping tool.

Grab your crew and captain your cardboard boat creation in this year’s Cardboard Boat Regatta at Lake Accotink Park! Whether you’re racing or just watching, it’s always a thrill to see which boats will sink and which will float to the finish in this popular summertime event.

“I think this was one of the most fun things I ever did,” said 17-year-old Josie McGraw whose team, The Honey Badgers, won in the 15 to 50 age group category last year. “We had to race three times, and by the third time, it [the boat] was just gone.”

McGraw and her two teenage teammates, Teresa Steenman and Jessica “Ducky” Novis spent two weekends building their boat out of cardboard, most of which came from a new neighbor’s moving boxes, and duct tape. “I can't remember exactly, but I think we went through 3 to 4 rolls of duct tape,” Steenman said.

They knew the craft would be judged on both design and seaworthiness. “The three of us brainstormed lots of ideas for the boat,” Steenman recalled. “We had arguments over it – how big to make it, how it was going to turn, but we started folding cardboard, and it came together,” McGraw said. They watched a video clip of a former race and noted a single competitor in a small boat who inspired their team’s name. “He was older, maybe in his 20s or 30s, and he was just paddling around and didn’t seem to care about the race,” McGraw said. “We came up with Honey Badgers because honey badgers just don’t care.”

They emphasized their attitude with written messages on their boat, “…like ‘Don’t sink,’ or ‘Hope you can swim,’ funny stuff like that,” Mc- Graw said. Other messages included, “Get ready for synchronized sinking,” “Modern Day Titanic,” and “If you can read this, we aren’t drowning, YET.” McGraw says the Honey Badgers’ motivation was more about having fun than competing, but she admits her crew started to care, “when we realized we were winning.”

Hidden talents may have given the Honey Badgers an edge in the race. Both McGraw and Novis have rowing experience as members of their high school crew team, and they took measures to make sure Steenman knew her way around an oar, too. “We took Teresa out canoeing to teach her about paddling,” McGraw said.

There’s no decision yet on whether the Honey Badgers will defend their crown this year. But McGraw has some advice for anyone else who is contemplating the challenge. “Just have fun, and be prepared to get wet,” she said. Win or lose, she says there’s a certain amount of self-satisfaction that comes with just rising to the occasion. “It’s something that you can say later on that you did,” she said.

Cardboard Boat Regatta

Preserving Yesterday’s Treasures for Future Generations

Preserving Yesterday’s Treasures
for Future Generations

2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the end of a war that Americans once called “the second war for independence,” the War of 1812. Tucked away in the Fairfax County Park Authority’s archaeological collection lies an artifact from an important battle in that war; the Battle of the White House.

“You’ve heard of the bombs bursting in air that we sing about in the Star Spangled Banner,” said historical archaeologist Aimee Wells as she carefully opened a wooden box at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church.

“Well, this is one of those bombs bursting in air.” The 200-lb. mortar shell, believed to have been fired by the British Royal Navy, was recovered from the Potomac River in 1959 by engineers from Fort Belvoir. The Park Authority is holding it in trust along with more than three million historical and archaeological pieces that chronicle life in Fairfax County.

Archaeological work is painstakingly slow, and the artifacts recovered date from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Some people may not understand the importance of these artifacts, such as pottery fragments, stone tools, straight pins or beads, but Wells says they’re all very important clues to the past and the people who lived here in Fairfax County. “These are straight pins made of copper alloy that were recovered from the Colchester area,” she said. “They date back to 1750 and are a sign of domestic life – they tell us that women were there.”

Wells considers a piece of pottery dating to the 18th century among the more exciting Fairfax County finds. “The pottery is made from local Virginia clay and was decorated and used by slaves. This is a rare find because it’s not fired at a high temperature and usually disintegrates over time.” Wells believes the piece survived because it was sheltered from the elements in the sub-floor pit of a slave cabin. “It was high on a hill, so water drained off, and I think that’s what saved it.”

“The people we often miss are women and slaves because they were not landowners, so there aren’t many written records of them,” Wells said. “If I can give them a voice through artifacts, I’m thrilled.” Fairfax County’s rich Civil War history is represented by artifacts such as uniform buttons, musket balls and bayonets. There are also items that represent day-to-day life, such as a shaving cup, imported English porcelain and a wig curler recovered from Salona, the McLean homestead of Revolutionary War Hero Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee and the place where First Lady Dolley Madison took refuge when British troopsburned the White House during the War of 1812. “Ceramic wig curlers were used by both men and women. They would tie them on with newspaper or cloth and then set the wig by the fire to dry,” Wells said.

Thousands more historical objects are preserved at Walney, located in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, and at several other historical sites in Fairfax County. Period clothing, furniture and housewares are carefully stored and cataloged. Architectural drawings of historic landmarks and land maps are meticulously organized and preserved in a controlled environment. Unique items survive to tell the story of bygone days, such as an ice scraper for shaved ice, an old metal bingo cage from Great Falls Grange, original grain elevator belts and receipts from Colvin Run Mill, tools and milk pans from Frying Pan Farm Park, Cornelia Lee’s 1786 sampler from Sully and antique toys, tea sets and more from other historic sites. “We are rife with things of historical meaning and, thankfully, the people of Fairfax County seem to appreciate it,” said Collections Manager Megan Leining. “People are invested in history here and want to protect it and preserve it for future generations.” To date, three of the Park Authority’s historic sites are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and Leining and Wells are among those working to earn reaccreditation for all of the Park Authority’s system-wide collections. The standards are high when you consider only about 10 percent of the nation’s 17,000 museums are accredited, but Leining and Wells say the effort is worthwhile.

“Right now we don’t have the space or funding to interpret museum-staffed exhibits at places other than our historic sites,” said Leining, “but we are open for research, and we allow things to go out on loan to other historical institutions. We also have active loans from individuals as well as organizations such as the DAR, the Sully Foundation, and Arlington House. Ultimately, we’d like to give the public access
to our historical collections and research online.” The goal is to create an evolving,
virtual time capsule that forever links future generations to the past.

It is tournament time at FCPA golf courses, and 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Combo Classic, a unique tournament at Twin Lakes Golf Course that pairs players with and without disabilities together in a two-person scramble format. This year, proceeds will benefit the Park Authority’s new Adapted Golf Instructional Program.

It all started back in 1990 after Cindy Walsh, then the Park Authority’s therapeutic recreation coordinator, received a call from a golfer who was a regular player at Jefferson District Golf Course and a member of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association (EAGA). “He played in a lot of EAGA tournaments which were exclusively for golfers with disabilities, and he asked if we had anything like that here,” Walsh recalled. “My focus was always on mainstreaming, so I told him I would be more interested in a tournament where he could play with his father and friends [who did not have a disability], and other people with disabilities could do the same.” The two met and came up with the concept for the Combo Classic.

John Nicholas has played in all but one Combo Classic. The paraplegic lost the use of his legs after a 1985 accident, and he missed the first tournament because equipment wasn’t available for seated players. So, he teamed up with his friends to modify a motorized golf cart by mounting a swivel seat and building a rudimentary hand-control system. Four years after his accident, he hit his first golf ball – a shot that changed the way the Park Authority does business. The agency created more opportunities for players with disabilities by adding Nicholas’ specifications for adapted carts to all future golf cart contracts, and now it offers more adapted carts than any other park system in the country.

It’s been years since Walsh served as the Park Authority’s therapeutic recreation coordinator. Now as the agency’s Resource Management Director, she looks back on the tournament she helped start in 1990 and finds it rewarding to know it helped lead to so many more opportunities for players with disabilities. “My mantra has always been to do as much as you can, do the best you can and leave it in better shape for someone else to take it from there,” she said with a smile. “It means I did my job.”

Treat your dad to a classic, eye-popping experience at the Sully Antique Car Show on Father’s Day. Hundreds of antique and classic cars fill the grounds each year, ranging from the Model A to cars your dad grew up with like the Corvette, the Mustang, the T-bird or maybe even a Studebaker or Model T, depending on how old your dad is. The event also features classic foreign cars, live music, food, a flea market and a tour of Sully’s 1794 historic home. This trip down memory lane takes place one day only, Sunday June 21 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly, Va.

 

Adrian Rumingan remembers fitness being a family affair growing up, first playing basketball in the park with his dad, then playing on a team at Bishop O’Connell High School. Later, he developed an interest in martial arts and swimming, and these days the 28-yearold fitness enthusiast trains for triathlon competitions almost daily at Providence RECenter.

“I love it because the pool is here, and in the past year the RECenter installed the Curve in the fitness room,” he said enthusiastically. “It’s my favorite piece of equipment and one that you don’t find in other [commercial] gyms around here.”

The Curve by Woodway is a self-powered treadmill that offers a one-of-a-kind workout for just about anyone, from walkers to serious athletes. The patented running surface is almost frictionless and allows the belt to glide. Combine that with an innovative curved running surface, and you control the pace at will – no electricity required. To speed up you simply start running; to slow down you allow yourself to drift down the curve. It is all about body position and gravity.

“To me, it feels like running outside,” Rumingan said. “You have to push yourself. A mile on the Curve is like doing 1-1/2 miles outside, probably because of the slope, which is about a two to three percent incline.”

Rumingan’s disciplined workout regimen includes 30 minutes in the pool, 30 minutes on the bike and 30 minutes on the Curve, five to six days per week. He says he motivates himself to stay the course by signing up for races and triathlons and by thinking about food. “I can eat a lot more if I work out,” he said with a grin. He also looks forward to the encouragement he gets from other Providence RECenter members. “Everyone knows everyone here, which is different from other gyms I used to belong to,” he said. “People are very friendly here. There’s a family aspect here at Providence. People encourage each other.”

When Rumingan isn’t training at Providence, he’s usually working as a RECenter Manager on Duty, a lifeguard instructor or a lifeguard. He says RECenter patrons sometimes ask him for fitness advice, and he enjoys motivating others and sharing the camaraderie that comes with the territory.

See for yourself the fitness difference Fairfax County RECenters have to offer. Purchase a single-visit pass or take advantage of the summer membership sale beginning May 1.

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