With schools out for summer residents can take part in a variety of fun and affordable family activities while becoming more acquainted with parks, museums and the like across Carroll.
Roberta Windham, the county's media liaison, said this summer there are interactive county-wide programs for children and families to participate in to get to know Carroll County better.
For the first time the county is offering a Summer Adventure program through its Celebrating America initiative, Windham said.
The Summer Adventure program is designed for first through eighth grade students, although anyone can participate, and it gives children and their families an opportunity to explore historical and cultural sites throughout the county.
The Summer Adventure program is free for all participants. Each participant has to visit at least 12 of 17 sites listed in the Summer Adventure guide, available online or by calling 410-386-2043.
Children and their families can choose to visit historical and local sites such as Union Mills Homestead and Grist Mill, the Sykesville Colored Schoolhouse, the Carroll County Farm Museum or a local farmers market.
"We're hoping that this will spur folks to visit places here in Carroll County because we have a lot of undiscovered territory here," Windham said.
She said participants can get their Summer Adventure "passports" stamped or initialed by a worker at each manned site, like a museum, or they can initial a completed task themselves if it is at a site with no employees present, like a park or town Main Street.
"We're relying on the honor system," Windham said.
Once 12 of the 17 tasks are completed children can take their passports to any Carroll County Public Library to receive a special certificate. Passports must be brought into a library by Aug. 31 to be eligible for a certificate.
Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks is also hosting a summer scavenger hunt, according to Recreation and Parks Administrator Jeff Degitz.
The inaugural Carroll County Park Pursuit scavenger hunt was held last summer, Degitz said, and more than 100 families registered and participated in the program.
He said this year the pursuit has a pirate theme and has been officially dubbed "The Carroll County Paaarrrgggg Pursuit."
Pirate crews of at least two people must register for the pursuit by June 30 and pay a registration fee of $5 to receive the official pirate handbook and packet, he said.
In the packet crews are given directions to visit six county parks. The packet contains treasure maps and clues to find a secret location at each designated park, where crews must then take a photograph to document their visit.
Crews that successfully complete the pursuit can attend a celebration on Aug. 24, where awards and prizes will be given out for team photographs in different categories, including most unique, funniest, best theme and most colorful.
Degitz said he is hoping for more than 100 families or groups to participate in the park pursuit this year, and he hopes the program will encourage residents to explore the 27 parks in the county.
"We really want to encourage people to get outdoors and go visit all of the parks," he said. "I think there's a tendency for people to just go to their favorite park, or the one in their neighborhood or right down the street, but we have so many wonderful parks all around the county."
Piney Run Park in Sykesville is also offering several summer activities like morning bird walks, new moon night hikes, birdhouse building workshops and overnight camp outs, ranging in price from $5 per child to $50 per family.
Assistant Naturalist Max Bukowitz said the park's Summer Camp-Over June 23-24 is a great way for families to try out camping for one night for only $50 per family.
"For families who haven't really camped out before and may have little kids, it's a good sort of testing the waters," she said. "You're making a commitment of one night and if you have to leave in the middle of the night you're close enough to home that it is an option."
The camp-over includes a picnic-style dinner, a night hike and owl prowl, s'mores over a fire while campers learn about the moon and the stars, and a continental breakfast, Bukowitz said.
In addition to the scheduled park programs, Bukowitz said families are welcome to visit Piney Run Park from 7 a.m. to sunset with a gate fee of $5 per vehicle for in-county residents and $10 per vehicle for out of county residents. Season passes can be purchased for $40 for Carroll County residents and $55 for out of county residents, she said.
Bukowitz said visiting Piney Run Park or any park in the county is a great way for children to get unplugged and enjoy the great outdoors.
"It's nature, it's a very organic surrounding for them to be in, which I think is so healthy for these kids," she said.
Windham said she hopes families will take advantage of any or all of the programs offered throughout the county this summer.
"If they do any one of them we'd be thrilled and we'd love them to do all of them," she said. "Hopefully [the county programs] will get people in and around the county to see what's here."