Monday, August 22, 2011

Nature Nuts gets National Recognition

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and Northern Virginia Regional Park Foundation, are working together help get children outside and in nature. The physical and mental health benefits as well as the learning that children are able to do when they spend time in nature is well documents. Just as well documented is the fact that children are spending less time outdoors.

To address this issue the Nature Nuts program has been developed with a goal of facilitating a meaningful nature experience for half a million children over the next five years through the Northern Virginia Regional Park System.

This program just received national recognition in the form of a great article in Park and Recreation Magazine. This is the publication of the National Recreation and Park Association and features the Nature Nuts program on pages 23 and 24 of the newly released August 2011 issue.

Link to the article:

Addressing what best selling author Richard Louv called the "Nature Deficit Disorder" is one of the great challenges for organizations involved in managing public lands and engaging the public in the appreciation of nature. Engaging children with nature is the subject of one of the session at the 40th annual Special Park Districts Forum that the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is hosting next month for park officials from all over North America. We will be highlighting the challenges and opportunities of this effort during this session.

With a limited number of days that registration is open for the Special Park District Forum, register soon and join us on September 25-28 as we work on this and other issues.

The registration link is:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflections on Vikings

Around this time last year, I wrote a piece for Park and Recreation Magazine about the need to develop bold, innovative organizations in our field. With the recession, a business as usual attitude would not work. I used the metphor of Vikings vs Farmers. The article prompted a lot of thinking about how organizations can thrive in hard times. Three other articles playing off this them were written in the months that followed, all with interesting perspectives.

As I am preparing to teach a class this fall at George Mason University in the administration of Park, Health and Tourism organizations, one of the assignments will be to write a paper on these four articles.

Gilbert, Paul (September 2010), Are You a Viking or a Farmer, Park & Recreation Magazine

McCarthy, Michael (October 2010), Valhalla, Park and Recreation Magazine

Lovell, Tom (January 2011), A Crisis of Knowledge, Park and Recreation Magazine

Ferris, Randolph (April 2011), Secrets of Farmers and Vikings, Park and Recreation Magazine

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Ways to Experience Ball's Bluff Battlefield

The students of Smarts Mill Middle School in Leesburg became historians and movie producers and stars as part of a project sponsored by the Journey Through Hallowed Ground.

In the spring the student studied the Battle of Balls Bluff. They did primary research and then wrote directed and stared in their own historic movies. These movies can be seen at the link below.

This link is also on the web site for Balls Bluff Battlefield Park, a property of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. This project was a fantastic way to engage young people in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and make it fun and engaging for them.

Another great way to experience the history of this site will be the battle reenactment that will take place on the actual battlefield this fall on October 22nd. The link to this event is:, on this site is a link for even more information on this event.

Planning for the battle reenactment has been underway for over a year. It will be a one of a kind event, 150 years in the making. If you would like a glimps at what it must have been like during the Civil War, this is an event not to miss.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Waterparks are more popular than ever

Waterparks of the Northern Virginia Regional Park System are more popular than they have ever been. Over the last five years we have renovated every one of them, and the public have flocked to them. With great theme that are fun for the whole family, and convenient  locations throughout Northern Virginia, these waterparks offer a great close to home alternative to a larger vacation. As such that are a fantastic value. In many cases a day at one of these fun filled waterparks is the same or less than going to the movies.

In the summer of 2010 we hit a new high in waterpark popularity. But now that we are most of the way through the summer 2011 season, we can see that the popularity of these great waterparks keeps climbing. Below are the numbers indicating the year to date increase in waterpark attendance compared to the record breaking 2010 season. If you have not tries all of these waterparks yet this summer, do not miss your change.

Cameron "Great Waves Waterpark"
 6% increase

Upton Hills "Ocean Dunes Waterparks"
5% increase

Algonkian "Volcano Island Waterpark"
12% increase

Pohick Bay "Pirate's Cove Waterpark"
6% increase

Bull Run "Atlantis Waterpark"
9% increase