Bird on a branch

What’s New at Camp Bayou?

Camp Bayou Cockroach Race

Dr. George releases the racers at the first cockroach races held at the Fall Open House. Who will win this time?
Photo credit: Becki Stafford

What’s new, you ask? Well, we’re going to tell you. Get ready for some outdoor educational fun at Camp Bayou in the next few weeks. Just scroll down for a list of upcoming family-friendly activities.

All events listed below take place at:
Camp Bayou
4140 24th Street SE
Ruskin, FL 33570

For additional details on any of these events, please contact Dolly at (813) 641-8545, e-mail or visit the Camp Bayou website.

Here are some of the activities that are being planned for February and March:
These events are Be Out There!, Get Outdoors Florida, “Let’s GO”- Children and Nature, No Child Left Inside, and Let’s Move Outside inspired initiatives.

Birding Walk for the Great Backyard Bird Count
Time: 9 a.m.
Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Cost: FREE

What’s Doing?
All ages are welcome to walk the trails and try to spot all the bird life on the site in one hour. These numbers will be sent to Cornell University to include in their citizen science campaign to take a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.


Family Naturalist Hour
Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Date: Saturday, March 2, 2013 (This event take place on the first Saturday of each month)
Cost: FREE

What’s Doing?
Come out for a butterfly walk to count the butterflies along the trails and in the Butterfly Habitat. Data will be recorded for the Florida Butterfly Monitoring Network.


Light up the Night Hike
Time: 7:30-9 p.m.
Date: Friday, March 15, 2013
Cost: $5 donation requested per person (all ages welcome); Registration is required, and participation is limited to 20 attendees.
Info: To register, please contact Dolly at (813) 641-8545 or e-mail

What’s Doing?
Start by looking for the Comet Pan-STARRS in the evening sky, then hike (without flashlights) into the deepening darkness along the trails, ending at the campfire for s’mores and night sky stories.


Camp Bayou Spring 2013 Open House
Time: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013
Cost: Admission and parking are FREE, but registration is required (Register your family online); Lunch in the Pavilion: $5 per person
(Lunch can be purchased at the Pavilion)
Info: Online Registration for Camp Bayou’s Spring Open House; View the Camp Bayou Spring 2013 Open House Flyer

What’s Doing?
Bring the family for a fun day of outdoor activities, including trail walks, speakers, nature stations and crafts, information tables from local environmental organizations and the newest favorite game — cockroach races! Here’s the schedule:
— 9-11 a.m.: Canoe rentals available
— 9 a.m.: Nature Photography Tour
— 9:30 a.m.: Cockroach Race (Round 1)
— 10 a.m.: Tomato Breeding w/ Dr. Sam Hutton UF/IFAS- GCREC (FREE tomato plants will be given out after the presentation)
— 10:30 a.m.: Rainbarrels w/ Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension
— 10:30 a.m.: Aquatic Critter Hunt (for kids and the young-at-heart)
— 11 a.m.: Frog Talk (Avalon of Conserve it Forward, Inc.)
— 11:30 a.m.: Lowry Park Zoo presents “Native Animals”
— 12 p.m.: Green Lunch ($5/person; Special thanks to Sweet Bay Supermarket in Ruskin for helping with supplies for lunch)
— 12:30 p.m.: Cockroach Race (Round 2)

NOTE: For those who wish to participate in the cockroach races, you may bring their own cockroach to race, but it’s imperative that you follow rules of the game. Visit the Camp Bayou blog for details.

Exhibitors will include:
— Quest Ecology discussing birds
— Conserve it Forward with frogs
— Florida Aquarium
— Little Manatee River State Park
— League of Environmental Educators in Florida
— Eagle Audubon Society in the butterfly habitat

Plus, there will be several nature activity and/or craft stations for the kids led by teen volunteers from The Solid Rock Church.

During the Spring Open House, visitors will be presented with opportunities to help support the programs and continuing operation of Camp Bayou:
– Make a $20 donation to provide mice and bedding for a month to help keep Xerxes, the albino corn snake on view in the nature center.
– Help support Camp Bayou with a minimum $10 dollar donation and receive a native plant and 2013 magnet.
– During lunch, the BOLD board will be introduced with a brief summary of the past year’s activities. Those interested in applying to become a future board member are encouraged to attend.

Camp Bayou
4140 24th Street SE
Ruskin, Fl 33570


A Little About Camp Bayou
Camp Bayou is neither a campground nor a summer camp. It was an RV park before the County’s ELAP program purchased the land but it is now open for day use only, open to the general public. Through volunteers, donations, membership and grants, the RCDF offers pre-scheduled programs to schools, youth groups, adult groups and families plus it’s open from Thursday- Saturday from 9am-2pm for passive recreational pursuits such as wildlife watching, nature photography and trail walks. General admission is still FREE.

The Camp Bayou Outdoor Learning Center is a public-private partnership between Bayou Outdoor Learning and Discovery, Inc., Ruskin Community Development Foundation, Inc. (RCDF) and Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation.

1. Chili Cook-Off and Car Show at E.G. Simmons Park
2. FREE (And Really Cheap) Family Movies Happening in February 2013 + AMC Sensory-Friendly Film
3. FREE (Or Almost FREE) Crafts for Kids: February 2013

Image courtesy of pichart99thai /
Image courtesy of Camp Bayou

Thanks to Dolly at Camp Bayou for sending us these event details!

7th Annual Mutt March

7th Annual Mutt March

Time: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 Location: Highlander Park Cost: FREE admission; Parking is $3/vehicle; A Food court will offer food (including vegetarian & vegan selections), beer and wine for sale (Proceeds from beer/wine sales help animals at the League) Info: For more information, please call Suncoast Animal League at (727) 786-1330; […]

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Chili Cook-Off and Car Show at E.G. Simmons Park

Chili Peppers Border

Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 Location: E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin Cost: $5/person for sampling chili; Park Entry Fee: $2/vehicle (up to eight people per car) Info: For more information or to register as a cook, please contact the E.G. Simmons Park at (813) 671-7655; Hillsborough County […]

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Bicycle Safety Story Time

Boy with Bike Helmet

Time: 11-11:30 a.m. Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 Location: Barnes & Noble – Dale Mabry Cost: FREE Info: (813) 871-2228; Barnes & Noble Website What’s Doing? Kids will learn about bicycle safety from the experts at Trek Bicycles while listening to bike-related stories. Address: Barnes & Noble – Dale Mabry 213 North Dale Mabry Highway […]

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Have Tea with a Fairy Tale Princess at Mrs. Tea’s Garden Tearoom

Green teapot

Time: 11 a.m. Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013 & Saturday, April 6, 2013 Location: Mrs. tea’s Garden Tearoom Cost: $$22.95/person, prepaid when you make your reservations (Reservations are required) Info: Call (813) 948-6200 to make your reservation, or make your reservation online; Mrs. Tea’s Website What’s Doing? Bring your little princesses for a special tea […]

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FREE Ice Dream® at Chick-fil-A, Westshore Plaza on Valentine’s Day

Chick-fil-A Ice Dream

Time: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Date: Thursday, February 14, 2013 Location: Chick-fil A, Westshore Plaza Cost: FREE small Ice Dream® cone or cup Info: (813) 286-0534; Chick-fil-A Westshore Plaza Facebook Page; View the e-mail blast What’s Doing? Spend some of your Valentine’s Day with the folks at Chick-fil-A in Westshore Plaza, and they’ll treat you to […]

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Feb. 16 is Family Fun Day: Weedon’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, a Community Yard Sale, Family Competitions & More!


Family Fun Day and Community Yard Sale Time: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 Location: England Brothers Bandshell Park Cost: FREE to browse Info: (727) 528-7891; City of Pinellas Park Website What’s Doing? Browse through the yard sale in search of that amazing find. But that’s not all. There will also be a: […]

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Hit a Home Run at Rays Fan Fest 2013


Time: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Date: Saturday, February 16, 2013 Location: Tropicana Field Cost: Admission and parking are FREE Info: (888) 326-7297; Rays Fan Fest Website What’s Doing? Bring the whole family out for a day filled with fan activities! Here are some highlights: — MOR Kids Interactive Zone (Speed Pitch, Big League Batting Cages, Spring […]

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Valentine’s Day Story Time at Barnes & Noble Stores

Two hearts with faces

Time: 11-11:30 a.m. Date: Saturday, February 9, 2013 Location: All Barnes & Noble stores nationwide Cost: FREE Info: Barnes & Noble Website What’s Doing? Head to Barnes & Noble stores for a special Valentine’s Day Storytime on February 9 featuring a reading of Joanna Walsh’s book The Perfect Hug, fun activities and treats! Address: Barnes […]

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Elmo is Visiting Learning Express Hyde Park!

Elmo drawing a heart

Time: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Date: Saturday, February 9, 2013 Location: Learning Express Toys in Hyde Park Village Cost: FREE Info: (813) 250-6200; Learning Express Toys Hyde Park Facebook Page What’s Doing? Bring the little ones to meet one of their favorite furry characters … ELMO! The hugs are FREE! Address: Learning Express Toys Hyde Park […]

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Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge when I publish each event. However, event hosts can reschedule, change or cancel any event at any time. Consequently, I highly recommend both calling ahead and having a back-up plan.

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