Cranberry Parks and Recreation offers tech-free nature program |
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Maggie Steffish stands next to the Penn Tree at Richland Community Park on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016. The tree is said to have been first rooted in the late 1500s at Richland Community Park on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016.

If any parents are looking for ways to get their children to put down devices and spend some time outdoors this summer, Cranberry Parks and Recreation is hosting a new Wilderness Explorers program designed for that very purpose.

“It’ll get kids outside for a while, where they’ll learn about nature and maybe they’ll pick something up and want to take a hike with their parents, or maybe bring them back to the park to show them some of the things they learned that go on at the park,” said Mary Beth Birks, who works in community service for parks and recreation.

The six-week program was designed by the National Park and Recreation Association, Cranberry Parks and Recreation decided to hold each week at a different location in the North Hills. The program gives families the opportunity to travel and perhaps discover new parks or stick closer to home if that’s more convenient.

Children can register for all six weeks for $55 or pay as they go for $10 per week,

The locations and topics are:

July 6 — Ross Township’s Denny Park, Nature Doesn’t Rest

July 7 — Richland Community Park, Exploring Essentials

July 14 — Ohio Township Community Park, Homey Habitats

July 21 — Franklin Park’s Linbrook Park, Critters Big and Small

July 28 — Cranberry Township’s Graham Park, Wonderful Water

Aug. 4 — Marshall Township’s Knob Hill Park, So Many Birds

Participants will get passports and earn stamps at each location. There will be a workbook and activities around the different themes, with an emphasis on Leave No Trace principles.

“The reason we try to teach that is so children will learn the importance of keeping our parks clean and trying to save the environment,” Birks said. “They’ll learn that what they bring to park, they have to take home and dispose of it properly.”

The stop at Richland Community Park will focus on drawing a map of the park, learning to listen to the sounds of nature and what’s involved in camping outdoors.

Classes run from 1 to 2:30 p.m. For more information or to register visit or call (724)779-4386.

Karen Price is a freelance writer.

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