Saturday, August 12, 2017

A Camp Bayou Summer

School is in session but summer is still going strong. The heat may have kept folks indoors but Camp Bayou is ready when you are with new additions to the Center.

Thanks to a Bay mini-grant from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Camp Bayou now has a new collecting pond for use during youth nature programs. For groups with limited time, students can now go critter netting without getting their feet wet. Aquatic plants, both native and non-native, will demonstrate some environmental issues and a rain gauge will provide an opportunity for monitoring precipitation for a citizen science program. The Bay mini-grant also provided funds to purchase 3 new kayaks that will be used as observation platforms, along with our existing canoes, for smaller reserved groups to discover wildlife along the river.

The golf cart trail tours will resume, thanks to a generous donation from Mr & Mrs. O, which funded the repair of the old 5 passenger cart. If interested in the tour, please arrive by 10am or call to schedule a special tour- 813-641-8545. There is no charge for the cart tours but donations are always gratefully accepted.

First Saturday Nature Topics continue with an Intro to Camping on September 2 starting at 9:30am. Can't get much closer to nature than camping in it- responsibly of course! Try your hand at putting up a tent, check out some minimal cooking equipment and enjoy a favorite camping dessert. No charge but please call to reserve your spot- 813-641-8545.

Third Saturday canoe day tours continue. Paddlers should arrive at Camp Bayou by 8:45am. Canoes and kayaks are available for rental for just $25 each or bring your own canoe or kayak for a small donation of $5 each. Register for all paddle trips by calling the office at 813-641-8545.

The International Coastal Cleanup Day is Sept 16. Camp Bayou is a cleanup site, both on land and water. Register with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful: .

For those who are interested in helping at the Center, Camp Bayou is looking for enthusiastic volunteers who love the outdoors and want to pass along that passion to others through hands-on activities, walks and canoe tours. Contact Jeri at 813-641-8545 or email We are mainly looking for folks to help teach school groups K-6 but there are other opportunities as well.

Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is neither a campground nor a summer camp. It was an RV park before the County's ELAP program purchased the land but it is now open for day use only, open to the general public. Through volunteers, donations, supporters and grants, the managing non-profit- B.O.L.D. - offers pre-registered programs to schools, youth groups, adult groups and families. Monthly canoe tours are now available by reservation only. Check the online calendar for trip dates. The Center is open from Thursday- Saturday from 9am-2pm for passive recreational pursuits such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is still FREE.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is a public- private partnership between Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery, Inc. (B.O.L.D.), and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Camp Bayou is located 3 miles south of SR674 at the end of 24th St SE in Ruskin. Check out the Camp Bayou Facebook page and for more information visit the webpage at or call 813-641-8545.

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