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Young Life: Friends of the Rappahannock offers nature bingo and photo contest for kids
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Young Life: Friends of the Rappahannock offers nature bingo and photo contest for kids

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Children who engage in two current Friends of the Rappahannock offerings will not only spend time in the exhilarating and nourishing great outdoors but will also sharpen their observation skills—and may even receive a prize for their discoveries.

Through Aug. 12, those ages 4-17 are invited to participate in FOR’s Rappahannock Nature Bingo and Kids Photo Contest.

“The goal of these activities is to encourage kids to go outside and enjoy the nature that surrounds us!” said development coordinator Carleigh Starkston. “When kids go outside and view the creatures that take up residence in their backyard, neighborhood trails or local parks, they learn to see our environment, river and public spaces as treasures worth preserving. When they learn about and love the creatures and nature they find, they are more likely to care about it and take care of it. This is just one way we can continue educating the next generation of river stewards.”

Nature Bingo

This outdoor scavenger hunt, providing two templates for age cohorts 4-8 and 9-17, presents a grid of plants, critters and natural features that players identify and record throughout their exploration of the environs. When children have located all the items in a straight line (horizontal, vertical or diagonal), they can upload their bingo board to the website. All completed entries will receive a Friends of the Rappahannock decal and will be entered in a raffle for a “Save the Crabs” T-shirt.

“Sharing the wonder of the natural world with children is one of our core values as an organization. We hope that this game of finding animals in their habitat and learning their names will inspire more families to look to the river for time well spent!” said communications director JoEllen Santulli.

Kids Photo Contest

Children ages 4-17 are invited to take digital images of scenes and flora and fauna that capture their interest as they go on strolls, hikes and river adventures and to submit their works for prizes. Parents can guide them in their exploration of their own backyards or riverside, but all photos must be taken by the entrant. Winners will be chosen in age groups of 4-8, 9-12 and 13-17 and will receive a T-shirt—as well as celebrity through FOR’s website. In addition, one grand-prize winner will be awarded a family environmental excursion with an FOR river steward.

Families may choose to combine the bingo scavenger hunt with their photography venture as they explore nature. Both the bingo boards and photographs must be submitted by Aug. 12, and winners of the photo contest will be announced during the week of Aug. 16-22.

Photographs will be judged on creativity and the quality of the image.

“We encourage participants to have fun and be creative. They may catch an image of a heron with a fish in its mouth or find a unique perspective for a picture of a grasshopper or frog!” said Starkston.

“Children will see that exploring the outside provides endless learning opportunities. By simply turning over a log, children might discover countless insects or a reptile that’s found cool relief,” said Santulli. “These activities also provide an opportunity for family bonding. Great conversations can arise when kids and their parents explore the outdoors together. Parents can answer their children’s questions and may also be inspired to learn more about the natural world themselves.”

“As families pay close attention to their discoveries in nature, they can also gain an appreciation of the importance of preserving our natural resources and our delicately balanced ecosystem,” said Starkston. “We hope that, through these experiences, they will see how awesome our environment is and want to take care of it even more.”

In fact, the folks at the Friends of the Rappahannock show families how they can engage in stewardship of our river even today. Their website presents guidelines for a river cleanup project, including safety tips and suggested equipment and locations, as well as a place to file their report to receive an FOR decal.

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