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Kids Activities in Nature: Crazy Days of Summer

Kids Activities in Nature: Crazy Days of Summer


Arkansas River Valley Nature Center

The Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center is where the outdoors and learning converge. The center utilizes trained experts and skilled volunteers to teach a number of courses throughout the summer, as well as provide unique program specifically designed to bring nature to life for children and youth. Daily activities include the 2 p.m. "Critter Crunch" feedings. Weekly activities include a "Nature Break" for children ages 3-7, Saturday morning guided hikes, canoe/kayak programs, laser shot and archery instruction. Canoe and kayak check-outs are available Tuesday-Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Summer Outdoor Challenge Programs 
Who: Kids who love the great outdoors
What: Kids take part in fun, summer outdoor activities that will help them accumulate important skills. The program will culminate at the end of the summer with a final challenge.
When: Every Thursday and Friday, June 11-Aug. 14.

9:30-11:30 a.m. Thursdays – Outdoor Shooting Gallery
(B.B. guns, 3-D archery, sling shots, trap archery)

9 a.m. Fridays– Fishing
10 a.m.-noon Fridays – Canoe and Kayak Program 


Summer Youth Workshops
Who:  Ages 6-9 and 10-13
What: Art workshops will give kids hands-on opportunities to create art using classic mediums. Pre-registration is required. 

  • June 23 and July 21 – Sketching Nature with Colored Pencils

Ages 6-9, 9:30- 11 a.m.; Ages 10-13, 12-1:30 p.m.

  • June 24 – Watercolor Techniques for Nature Painting Art

Ages 6-9, 9:30-11 a.m.; Ages 10-13, Noon-1:30 p.m. 

  • July 22 – Mosaics

Ages 6-9,  9:30- 11 a.m.; Ages 10-13, Noon-1:30 p.m.


Kiddy Kamps 
Who: Ages 4-7
What: Little ones are invited for a two-hour mini-day camp that will include activities planned just for their ages, ability, and energy.  A responsible parent/adult is required to stay on the premises, and registration is required.

  • June 3 – F is for Fish; 9-11 a.m. 
  • July 1 – S is for Snakes; 9-11 a.m. 
  • Aug. 5 – M is for Mammal; 9-11 a.m.


Fishing Clinics

Beginning Lure Craft for Families
Who: All ages
What: Participants will be instructed on the feeding habits of black bass and on predator-prey relationships. They will design four lures, including top water, minnow type, shad body and deep diver.
When: 1 p.m. June 16 

Beginning Fly-Tying for Youth
Who: Ages 10–16
What: Participants will be taught basic fly-tying principles and instructed in the construction of a woolly bugger.
When: 1 p.m. June 30 


Nature Nights 
Who: Nature lovers
What: Enjoy a wide variety of family friendly activities “after hours” at the nature center.

  • June 12, TBA – Education Barge Tours After Dark 
  • June 16, 6 p.m. –  Nature Wood Carving
  • July 10, 7 p.m. – An Evening with the Snakes of Arkansas 
  • July 21, 6 p.m. – Real Raptors 
  • Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m. –  Back to School Bash 
  • Aug. 18, TBA –  Education Barge Tours After Dark

All activities will be held at the River Valley Nature Center, 8300 Wells Lake Road, Fort Smith. Admission is free. To register or for more information, call 479-452-3993                                                   rivervalleynaturecenter.com. 

Lake Fort Smith State Park
15458 Shepherd Springs Road, Mountainburg arkansasstateparks.com/lakefortsmith

Free Fishing Weekend
Who: Families who love to fish!
What: Fish this weekend without fishing licenses. Don't have a pole? No worries – the nature center has several poles to loan at the marina, along with everything else you'll need to land the big one. Regulations for Arkansas waters apply and must be observed. For more information, call 479-369-2469.
When: June 12-14

Kayak Adventure
Who: Kayakers of all ages
What: Kayaking is a great way to experience the sights of Lake Fort Smith and a fun way to exercise. Whether you are a beginner or have a bit more experience, this kayak tour is a perfect way to jump-start your day. Reservations are required and should be made by calling the marina. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. This event is weather dependent and may be cancelled. Cost is $12 adults, $6.50 children ages 6-12 and free for those younger than 6 when riding with an adult. For more information, call 479-369-2469.
When: June 20 from  9-11 a.m

Ozark Explorers Camp
Who: Campers ages 8-14
What: Lake Fort Smith will host a two-day, one-night trip of fun, adventure and learning. The outdoor experience will include kayaking, fishing and boating on the lake, swimming, crafts and hiking. Meals, snacks and lodging are included in $75 tuition. Space is limited. For more information, visit arkansasstateparks.com.
When: July 13-14

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