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Wild and Natural Birthday Parties

PARTYING IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Planning a child's birthday can be wild and fun if you have some ideas on hand long before it's time to start planning. Ask your child what they want and if they have no ideas then suggest something-like an outdoor adventure. Taking your child's party outside can be very rewarding especially in Calgary, where there are numerous places to host the entire party. You can book a professional to do your outdoor birthday party, or plan your own.

Places to Go

You can have your party almost anywhere in a city park, but you probably want to go somewhere that has a picnic shelter just in case the weather turns ugly.

  • Edworthy Park has several shelters with stoves for wiener or marshmallow roasting. There is also a variety of trails to walk or bike-and the Douglas Fir Trail is a great place to explore.
  • Carburn Park has a shelter and several outdoor picnic sites with stoves. There are paths around the lagoon and one leading out to the river.
  • Pearce Estates offers shelters, stoves and Frisbee Golf. Also, the Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery is located in the park. They have some really neat exhibits and a great video.
  • Bowness Park offers outdoor recreation activities such as canoeing and paddle boat rentals, a concession, picnic sights and walking trails.
  • North and South Glenmore Parks have numerous picnic areas, a playground and easy access to nature exploration.
  • Stanley Park and Sandy Beach are also good places to have a nature party.

Things To Do When You Get There

Plan some easy games with a nature theme and then have one or two more focused activities for the children to do. Once this portion of the party is over, let them observe and explore nature on their own.

UnNature Trail: Choose a 10- to 20-meter section along a trail or in an area that is not in the way of other visitors, and place along it 10 to 15 man-made objects. Some of them should stand out brightly like balloons or red socks. Others should blend in with their surroundings, and therefore be more difficult to pick out. The children walk along the section of trail one at a time, trying to spot (but not pick up) as many of the objects as they can. When they reach the end of the trail, they whisper in your ear how many objects they saw. If they don't find the total number they go again until someone finds them all. You can give out prizes for the winners if you wish. End the game with a discussion about how camouflage helps animals. Then go on a search for small camouflaged animals like insects and spiders.

Hike a Tree: Nature is like a big trunk full of interesting treasures. You may start out looking for one thing and, before you know it, you've spent hours looking at the other contents of the tree and its trunk. You'll need some magnifying glasses. Start your hike from the ground up, scanning the dirt surrounding the tree looking for insects, spiders and other plants, and then move up the tree. Use the magnifying glasses to explore cracks and crevices for spider webs, beetles and ants. You may find mosses and lichens growing on the bark. Leaves provide homes to all kinds of creatures, and, depending on the time of year, you can check out the tree's buds, flowers or cones. More activities and games can be found in the book SHARING NATURE WITH CHILDREN by Joseph Cornell.

One last word: Nature parties can take place all year round.

Kym is with the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. For more ideas or suggestions, call the Sanctuary at 269-6688.
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