Family adventure awaits in basic skills wilderness workshop

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BY SARA KEDDY Kings County Register

Family adventure awaits in basic skills wilderness workshop

Darlene Caldwell sat on her Sweet’s Corner back porch and watched as a deer and a fawn came right into her backyard. When a butterfly landed right on the fawn’s nose, she was amazed.

But, that’s the kind of outdoors experience she loves most, and one she wants to share with others.

Caldwell is a past-president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, a self-defined “outdoorsy person. “We never had computers or cellphones with our kids - we just went out and played: fishing, camping, then I started hunting with my husband.”

She went on to become a hunting safety instructor, volunteers with the Become an Outdoor Woman course and is even more outdoorsy now that her own children are gone from home. “The outdoors just gets me grounded. It doesn’t cost anything to go for a walk or a hike, you can try fishing, go to local recreation departments or call your local wildlife association. There is all kinds of stuff going on.”

With the NSFAH and just looking around her own community, Caldwell saw how “disconnected” many people are from the outdoors, whether it’s leading busy, scheduled lives; or thinking they have to have ‘all the gear” to head out. “I use a 30-year-old tent: just load the truck and go,” she says.

She floated the idea of a family outdoors day to NSFAH volunteers last year, and partnering with the Nova Scotia departments of fisheries, health and natural resources; Become and Outdoors Woman N.S.; the NSFAH supplies all the equipment and instruction for workshops, waives any license requirements - and even cooks up lunch for those attending a new series of FUN days - Families United with Nature. “We’ve had a couple already, and they’ve been really rewarding for us: I’m seeing families doing what I used to do with our kids,” she says. At a July event in Digby, the weather was “torrential” and the wind blew one mom and daughter’s tent into the trees while they were learning to set it up, “but everyone laughed. “That happens! Nobody ever once complained - they all just wanted to learn.”

Kings County Girl Guides have grabbed onto the FUN day as a way to promote their camp facility at Hardwood Lake, and share their own love of the outdoors. An August 22 FUN day will feature two sessions: Learn 2 Fish in the morning and Family Camping in the afternoon. Guiding volunteers will cook up a BBQ lunch, and the camp’s lifeguard will be on-site in case anyone wants to take a dip at the beach between sessions.

The cost? Just $5 per person, to a maximum of $20 per family. That includes all the workshops and lunch. “We’ve been really fortunate with the support from our partners for this program,” says Caldwell. “I’m really hoping people will become aware of what there is available beyond the four walls they spend their time in.”


Headline: Family FUN in the outdoors

The Saturday, August 22 FUN day gets underway at 8:30 a.m. with registration, and workshops starting at 9 a.m.

Two sessions will be offered: Learn 2 Fish, with some tips on tackle, what to fish for and where to do it and some hands-on experience from the shores of Hardwood Lake; followed by Family Camping, with lots of basic information on selecting gear - from tents and stoves to bedrolls and more, picking a site and season and tricks to make outdoor life comfortable.

Lunch is a hot dog BBQ and drinks, and there may be time for a swim (lifeguard-supervised waterfront) over the break or at the end of the day.

To register in advance or for information, contact Sara Keddy, (902)538-9191 or; or Darlene Caldwell, (902)798-4036.

Organizations: Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers

Geographic location: Hardwood Lake, Nova Scotia, Digby

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