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The NC Recre8'er - is the Blog for NC Recreation and Parks Professionals. We will feature posts from NCRPA members and staff about all the latest news, insights and tips in our field and around the state. Topics will include but are not limited to: Health and Wellness, Outdoor Recreation, Athletics, Advocacy, Aquatics, Therapeutic Recreation, Special Events, Marketing, Parks and Greenways, Cultural Resources and more! If you are interested in being a guest blogger please contact Matt at NCRPA or 919-832-5868. The opinions of The NC Recre8'er (NCRPA) blog contributors don't necessarily reflect the editorial position of North Carolina Recreation and Park Association as a whole.


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50 at 50 | November 17

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, November 17, 2017
Updated: Thursday, November 16, 2017
When I turned off Rocky River Road in Charlotte into Reedy Creek Park, I didn’t realize all the great things I was going to find on the inside.  The park and preserve are a combined 927 acres.  In the 125 acre park, I found athletic fields, shelters, a disc golf course, community garden, ponds, fishing piers, and a dog park.  One observation I had at the dog park was a gentleman with braces on both of his knees.  As he was watching his dog run and frolic with other dogs, I realized this might be the only opportunity for exercise for the dog.   

Reedy Creek Nature Preserve preserves habitat for 109 species of birds, 15 species of mammals, 20 species of reptiles, and 12 species of amphibians and has 10 miles of hiking trails. 

At the end of the main road, I found myself at a T intersection, I went left and found the Carolina Panthers themed Play 60 challenge course which opened on October 11.  Represented by Cunningham Recreation, this is the10th GameTime Challenge Course in NC.  First created five years ago, this course is “NFL combine meets Ninja Warrior”.  The Challenge Course is an obstacle course that incorporates elements of an NFL Combine workout and the popular Ninja Warrior activities.  It also features a 40-yard dash with precision timing.  At the start, I found a ‘pep talk’ with recorded words of encouragement from various Carolina Panthers players.  In addition to having a timed 40-yard dash, there is a time-tracking element for completing the course.  Through the app available to participants, you can track and compare your times with others on this course or other GameTime Challenge Courses.  It was great to watch kids, both young and old, try multiple times to improve upon their times.

Upon returning to the T intersection, I headed towards the Nature Center.  Built in 1982, the center features live, native animals, an exhibit hall, a classroom, and a gift shop. Outside, there is a National Wildlife Federation certified Backyard Habitat Garden which includes bird feeding stations, butterfly gardens, and a demonstration compost area and nature play area.  While in the restroom, I discovered a unique publication - "The Reedy Creek Toilet Paper".  Taped to the mirror, it was a 1-page flyer about events and features all happening at the Nature Center. Talk about reaching a captive audience while washing your hands!

Reedy Creek Park & Nature Preserve have so many features to appeal to the many varied interests of citizens.  I was impressed with how well the active and passive components of the park were intertwined to provide enjoyable opportunities to everyone. For more information on Reedy Creek Park and the Nature Preserve and Center, visit

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Tags:  50at50  Carolina Panthers  GameTime  Lowes  Meckleburg County  nature  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 - September 22

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, September 22, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 21, 2017
On Tuesday, Wanda Parmlee, Nicole Miller, and I were fortunate to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new San-Lee Park Nature Center. The story of this new building begins 2 years, 10 months and 2 days before the ribbon cutting with a fire that destroyed the previous building. I recall hearing about this fire on my local TV station and from conversations I had with Lee County Parks & Recreation staff soon after the fire, I learned many groups assisted with the housing and care of the animals that survived the fire until they could be returned to the park.

San-Lee Park was opened in 1978 and is 177 acres. This property and the pumping station that housed the previous nature center was constructed in 1933 and served as the water supply for Sanford. When a new water supply was built by the city, the county worked to obtain this property and develop an educational park.

As the saying goes, a phoenix rises from the ashes and that is the case at San-Lee Park. Surrounded by 2 lakes for fishing and paddle boats, 12 miles of top-rated mountain biking trails, 4 miles of hiking trails, tent camping facilities, and a meadow with a small playground and open space, the nature center is the feature attraction. At just over 6000 square feet inside and a 2300 square feet deck overlooking the lake, this facility has exhibition space to allow visitors to learn about nature and the animals kept in the center. In addition to the exhibits, the center has a classroom for programming, an event space with kitchen and access to the desk, along with office space for the staff.

I think Amy Dalrymple, Chair of the Lee County Board of Commissioners shared some important words, “this is something for Lee County residents to be proud of and to remember that is it important to get outside and take a breath of fresh air”. In closing, she encouraged all to bring their families and tell their friends. I would concur, tt is a place I want to visit again with my friends.

You can find San-Lee Park at 572 Pumping Station Road, Sanford, NC and more information about the park at

Note: Special thanks to Lee County Parks & Recreation and HH Architecture for inviting the NCRPA staff to join you in the celebration.

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Tags:  50at50  Nature  parks  recreation 

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Capture a New Outdoor Program

Posted By Colleen Dougherty, Graduate Assistant - NC Recreation & Park Association, Monday, January 26, 2015

This week’s blog is a quick preview of our next Wellness Webinar: 8 easy program ideas for 2015. As we prepare ideas for the spring months, one simple program ideas is to hold a Family Outdoor Scavenger Hunt. Not only does this event bring together families if your community, but it takes advantage of your parks, walking trails, and greenways. A scavenger hunt will get your community out an about in your park and allow you to increase awareness of other programs and facilities!

How can you set up an Outdoor Family Scavenger Hunt?

1.)    First, what equipment and staff will you need? Request families upon signing-up to bring a device that takes pictures, such as a digital camera or a camera phone. Other items may include: pens, pencils, and timers to keep track of the duration of the activity. On the day of the event, provide 2 or 3 programmers/volunteers to assist with questions and help families during the scavenger hunt.

2.)    Second, provide a specific park location and a scavenger hunt list. Here are some ideas of what the list can include: a smooth stone, a colorful bird, a butterfly, a rabbit or deer, a pond, or even a family-selfie in front of a park sign! Be as creative as you would like, the options are endless.

3.)    Lastly, on the day of the event, make sure a meeting spot has been designated. Explain the instructions to the family and agree on an end time to the scavenger hunt. At the end of the event, you can provide fun prizes or a healthy snack for the children.

There are many advantages to an Outdoor Family Scavenger Hunt! It ultimately gives a reason for families to spend time together and to explore a park in your community. It is low-cost, and uses resources that you most likely already have.

Click the link for more scavenger hunt ideas provided by “My Kids’ Adventures” an online magazine:

Don’t forget, you can still register for this week’s webinar. The presentation will focus on 8 easy program ideas for 2015 conducted by the NCRPA staff on Wednesday, January 28th, at 1pm; Register here:

If you have any new ideas for outdoor family programs, please email us or submit them on the wellness site here: (,


Tags:  Activities  Family  Greenways  Nature  Outdoor  Parks  Wellness 

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