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06/10/2014

North Carolina Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors

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Our adventure began with a barrage of challenges from our Sierra Club coordinator being detained, and the death of my (fully packed) van’s fuel pump 90 miles into the 200+ mile trip to Camp Lejeune. In classic Sierra Club style, these challenges were overcome, with me experiencing a much needed six hour break in a lovely piney wood along highway 74. This theme carried though during the battle of the wind on lovely Onslow Beach Friday night. Our group made up of Tom, Nancy, Kelly, Hollis, William and I, finally conceded to the wind and agreed to attempt this task again in the morning when our troop numbers would be increased three fold. The morning came with light winds, and cooler temperature for a quick and successful rally to be ready for the children and families to arrive. 

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The Mission to Explore the Outdoors challenge was received and met by over 250 participants. The children checked in and were given their mission, which they readily choose to accept, and sent to explore. Each exhibitor had a stamp for the children to earn higher levels of exploration. 

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Sturgeon City came with the great flounder petting tank and information about outdoor activities and their fabulous environmental education programming. Squeals of laughter and delight were heard as the children and family explored the opportunities to be outdoors. Next was the Sea Turtle Exhibit which included the nest beach protection, a skeleton, and a cool bag along with a great snake poster for the kids. Many families thought the display was live turtles that were just very still. 

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Thrifty Adventures was next, coming all the way from Charlotte, to share the love of climbing and some super cool knots for our explorers to tie. The North Carolina Sierra Club Outings leader set up camp, literally with tents and gear. The kids got to explore inside to see what camping would be like. They also participated in a game using a compass that was theirs to keep. The club also raffled off a family tent to one lucky family. Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary came with Diana the coolest non-releasable marsupial around, along with a hawk, an owl, and wildlife information. 

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The North Carolina Zoos’ own education director drove down to share great fossils found in the state the kids were fascinated by a huge sharks tooth. Camp Corral came to tell the families about their great programs that provide free camps for military children. USMC MCCS Outdoor Adventures brought the rock wall and personnel to have the explorers conquer the climb. Happily, they provided gear so even the older kids (adults) could attempt the wall.

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This event was only made possible with the labor and perseverance of my E-Corps Crew of Wendy & Drew Foster, William, Hollis E. Parks, Mariah, and Andre and the North Carolina Sierra Club Outings Chair Kelly Mieszkalski, Nancy Card, and fellow veteran Tom Williams the Outings Chair for the NC Cypress Group. Onslow Beach Recreation area staff treated us as if we were family – providing lodging, labor and a fantastic site. Dion & Lloyd you are trulyappreciated.

- Karan Barber

Sierra Club Inner City Outings and Military Outdoors Volunteer Leader

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