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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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YPN Blog: Spring 2019

Posted By Meredith Batchelor, Special Events Coordinator, Town of Stallings, Thursday, June 20, 2019

Making a Statement

Everyone wants to make a statement, everyone wants to make a name for themselves. Why is it that we always feel the need to prove ourselves? For me, it came with my age and how I looked. Getting a middle management position right out of college is a fantastic accomplishment for some. I was ecstatic that I had been offered a position as the Recreation Manager for a department. What I soon found out was that no one wanted to listen to a 22-year-old kid right out of college, especially one that looked like she was 16 on a good day and “wasn’t from around these parts.” I faced a lot of challenges when it came to that, no one knew by looking at me that I had graduated from college with a degree in the field and no one knew that I had worked so hard to get to where I was.

Fast forward to today and that still is ringing true. I started as the Special Event Coordinator with the Town of Stallings in July of 2018. This was a brand new position created for the town, so I felt as though even though no one had held the position previously, that I still had some big shoes to fill.  I constantly am pushing myself to work harder so that everything I produce for the department can be the absolute best. I will beat myself up internally if something doesn’t go exactly as planned.

It’s not a bad thing to expect and seek perfection, for some it’s a good goal to set, especially as event planners. By nature, event planners are organized and consistent, hitting everything on a checklist and exceeding expectations is how we feel the job is done. I do know now after bringing new events and ideas to the town that I can step back and know I’ve done a good job. As Parks and Recreation professionals, our priority is the people. Special Events is how I can provide for the people and the community I serve. I make sure to take the time out of the event to talk to families that are there. I want to make sure they’re having a good time and the event is everything that they expected. I’ve also gotten a lot of good ideas as well as vendor contacts from talking with the community members. By doing this, I’m also setting up a relationship and a reputation. By being so young in the field, it’s important to build those relationships to carry on with me throughout my career.

For anyone who is also a young professional, don’t be afraid to step up. Take the challenge, ask questions, and be present! Make sure you’re creating those lasting relationship, who knows who you may be needing to call on years from now.

About the Author

Meredith Batchelor is the Special Events Coordinator for the Town of Stallings Parks and Recreation Department. Meredith received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Community and Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2015 where she concentrated in Community Recreation and Special Events and minored in Political Science. Prior to her time in Stallings, Meredith worked in recreation with the Walt Disney World Resort before becoming the Recreation Manager in Boiling Spring Lakes, NC. She has had a passion for the field since becoming a camp counselor at the age of 16 and loves that she can bring that passion to her position in Stallings.

 Meredith can be contacted at or 704-821-8557.


Tags:  #Ncrecre8  Active Lifestyle  Association  events  Making a Statement  National Recreation and Park Association  NCRPA  networking  NRPA  Organization  parks  Programs  Recreation  Tips  UNCG  young professionals  ypn 

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Discover NC Parks - Onslow Pines Park, Onslow County

Posted By Thurman Hardison, retired, Friday, August 31, 2018
To have chosen Onslow Pines Park as a #DiscoverNCParks visit was easy for me; sort of like walking back in time while going forward.

Some forty years ago, I started my parks and recreation career at Onslow Pines Park. In 1978, fresh out of North Carolina Central University, with an undergraduate degree in parks and recreation administration, my first positions for pay were with Onslow County Parks and Recreation Department in trail construction during the week and gym supervision at a local school on Sunday afternoons. I, along with about a half dozen others, was hired under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, better known as CETA. CETA was enacted by Congress in 1973. Services funded via this program included on-the-job training, classroom training, and public service employment (footnote…CETA was later replaced in 1982 by the passage of the Job Training Partnership Act, commonly referred to as JTPA).

It had been some time since my last visit to Onslow Pines Park, located three miles south of Jacksonville, so my wife Jacki and I set out early one recent Saturday morning to take a look. One of the most striking features of the park is its well-developed entrance with ample parking and turnaround points to exit the park. To my surprise, the layout of the park hasn’t changed much over time, although it’s obvious that the park has been taken care of and added to by parks staff, as there are several new amenities, upgrades, and improvements. The trail from the 1970’s still exists, I was pleased to find, and now has a formal, dedicated name…the Bicentennial Trail. It’s a 4/10 mile nature walk with twenty interpretive stations as well as a 9/10 mile jogging/fitness trail. There are picnic areas and covered pavilions for family gatherings, lighted tennis and basketball courts for night play, combination baseball/softball/football/soccer fields, a little league baseball field, a playground for tots and a recently constructed inclusive playground, multi-purpose arenas for special events, and a senior citizen outdoor recreation area.

Onslow County has a lot to be proud of with Onslow Pines Park, as it has been sustained and continues to improve over time. When visiting relatives or friends in Onslow County/Jacksonville, take some time to visit or revisit Onslow Pines Park. For more information on Onslow Pines Park, visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  Onslow County  parks  recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Goat Island Park and Greenway, Cramerton

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, August 24, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 23, 2018
"Welcome to Goat Island Park and Greenway" was the sign I saw upon entering the park in Cramerton in Gaston County. I had heard about this island park and decided it was time for a visit. The 29-acre park is located in the middle of the South Fork River of the Catawba River. Yes, you read that right. The park is located in the middle of the river.

Opened in 2012, this park has a 181-foot pedestrian bridge that gives you access to the park from a parking area. Once in the park, there are lots of amenities to be found including walking trails, greenway, playground, 18-hole disc golf course, fishing pier, canoe/kayak portage, shelters with grills, a dog park, outdoor permanent cornhole boards and table tennis boards. There is a second pedestrian bridge that lets you enter from the town center.

The afternoon I chose to visit was one of those days where the temperature was in the high 90s and the dew point in the low 70s, and there just were not a lot of people out enjoying the park while I was there. I did see one adult with several kids go into the park, but they did not stay too long due to the heat.

While the greenway is part of the Carolina Thread Trail, one amenity that really caught my eye was the Goat Island Fitness Pavilion. It is an outside gym. With a concrete floor and canopy roof, it provides the central area for a variety of outdoor fitness equipment. Even though it was hot, I did try out the elliptical for a few minutes.

If you find yourself in this area and are looking for a unique park location, give Goat Island Park and Greenway a try. For more information visit

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Tags:  Cramerton  DiscoverNCParks  parks  Recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Winterville Recreation Park

Posted By Thurman Hardison, Retired, Friday, August 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 16, 2018
My daughter Ciara and her husband Vincent live in Winterville with their three children Christian, Laila, and Maia. Winterville is a charming town just outside of Greenville and given its proximity to our home in New Bern, my wife Jackie and I get to visit them on a frequent basis.  Our grandchildren are active in many activities in the Winterville/Greenville area like bible school, visits to the library, recreational sports, theatre, dance, and more, thanks to their parent’s sacrifices and love for their children. One place they’ve come to enjoy and appreciate is the local park - Winterville Recreation Park.

Surrounded by recently developed subdivisions as well as traditional homes, the park is located in the heart of town at 332 Sylvania Street. The park is more than just a park; it appears to be a focal point of the community. It is well used throughout the year, especially during recreational sports seasons. It is easily accessible by car, bike, or walking. The park is well-maintained by the town’s parks personnel, with manicured grounds and clean restroom facilities.

The park was expanded to 24 acres in 2010, and offers many amenities and resources to the public, including three youth baseball fields for league and tournament play, a large adult softball field, tennis courts for lessons and general community play, an amphitheater for special events, a playground, and 1 mile of walking trail. During the summer and fall months, you’ll find the tennis courts full, softball seasons winding down, youth football practices and games gearing up, and the amphitheater hosting a twilight activity. And, by the way, the concession stand makes a great hotdog!!!|

When visiting relatives or friends in Winterville or the Greenville area, take some time to visit or revisit the Winterville Recreation Park. For more information on the park visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  park  Recreation  Winterville 

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Discover NC Parks - LeBaeur Park, Greensboro

Posted By Christopher Horrigan, Guilford County Facilities and Parks, Friday, August 10, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

“Do I really need the side of pita chips and hummus with my falafel?” Today I am savoring my lunch from Ghassan’s, located within Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park, in downtown Greensboro. I settle on the Lebanese salad as I watch others chow on their equally delicious looking burgers from the food kiosk opposite mine. (This is a park-blog Christopher, not a restaurant review.) The choice, however, reflects the multiplicity of recreational experiences and the diversity among the locals and out-of-towners who partake in them.

The four-acre park, which opened in the summer of 2016, is snuggly situated between the Greensboro Cultural Center, Greensboro Historical Museum, the Greensboro Public Library, and is always bustling with activity.

Park patrons and art aficionados will appreciate the installations throughout the park. The Peacehaven Sensory Wall in the children’s garden and the aforementioned food kiosks, designed by NC architect Frank Harmon. Where We Met, a colorful, 200-foot-wide, net hangs high above the concert lawn. The cabling supporting the installation, created by artist Janet Echelman, mirrors the network of railroad tracks which traversed Greensboro in the late 19th century, sending the textiles produced here across the U.S. The lawn below boasts crowds of 3,000 to 4,000 during special events, but remains an intimate setting for the free movie nights and concert series the park frequently hosts.

The large, accessible, play-scape at the center of the park provides plenty of opportunities for digging, hopping, rolling, running, spinning, and climbing. Parents will enjoy the ample seating, clear sight lines, perimeter fencing, and extended rest that comes with setting their child free in this space. When your hot, sweaty child has finally exhausted every conceivable way to explore the children’s garden they can cool off at the interactive fountain/splash pad situated just steps from the gate to the play area; rinse, repeat. Parents and guardians can also enroll their children in the free, weekly, Kid’s Klub programming with dance, art, story-time, and healthy eating opportunities.

A pocket dog park consisting of artificial turf and crushed stone occupies a corner of the park; dog lovers/owners and werewolves can participate in free group dog training, dog yoga, and adoption fairs…swearwolves should stay home! (If you got the rather obscure movie reference, and you’re in Greensboro, let’s have coffee, or chips and hummus). Nature enthusiasts can stop and smell the flowers in the native plant garden and golfers can work on their short game at the putting green outside the cultural arts center. LeBauer park is open until 11 pm and the lighting scheme really provides pop to the installations and fountain, so come back after sunset and grab a drink or dinner at nearby Café Europa and enjoy the park in a new light.

As much as I enjoy taking my family to LeBauer Park, it is equally enjoyable on a professional level. It is exceptionally well managed by the nonprofit Greensboro Downtown Parks Inc. in partnership with Greensboro’s Park and Recreation Department. Well-designed parks, like LeBauer, activate underutilized spaces, promote economic development, and are a gathering place for diverse user groups to meet and co-mingle. The numerous public-private sponsorships and the $10 million bequest by Carolyn Weill LeBauer affirm the value corporations, non-profits, and the public place on our profession, parks, and the role they play in creating equitable, healthy, and vibrant communities.

LeBauer Park is located at 208 N. Davie Street Greensboro, NC 27401. On-street and off-street parking along with the Church Street Parking Deck is available nearby. A calendar of events, complete facility listing, and a detailed history of the park and the LeBauers can be found at

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  Greensboro  parks  recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Lake Johnson, Raleigh

Posted By Coult Culler, Intern at NCRPA, Friday, August 3, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2018
Choosing my #DiscoverNCParks visit was not a very hard choice. I have lived in Raleigh for about five years now and since moving here I have fallen in love with a local park named Lake Johnson Park. I live within walking distance of this wonderful site, which makes it very easy for me to go for a run or just have a nice quiet place to escape. Offering many amenities and resources to the public, Lake Johnson Park is a great place for anyone!

Recently I decided to go for a run, which I haven't done in a while, but I am glad I did. It was around 7:30 pm when I got to the lake, and it was beautiful. It was not very hot and the humidity level was down. I started my run on the west side of the lake where there is no pavement; the trails are made up of wood chips and other natural materials that have been recycled to give the trails more of a natural appearance. The West Loop Trail is roughly 1.6 miles long. I always start on the west side of the lake because there is an elevated ridge that looks over the lake, and it is a great spot to stop and catch your breath. For me, it is a spot to stop and decompress while taking in the landscape surrounding me. Continuing on the trail, the West Loop crosses Avent Ferry Road and becomes the paved East Loop. The East Loop is about 2.8 miles that includes a bridge that crosses the lake as well as a section that goes over the dam. At the dam, you usually see people fishing, playing with their pets, and others taking in the view. Continuing on the East Loop is a great way to end your run or walk. Going through the old trees and seeing wildlife, all while being about 20 yards from the lake. The end of the trail brings you right back to the parking lot, which is very convenient for people who drove. That day I didn't mind having to walk back to the house because it was just so nice out.

Lake Johnson offers more than just trails; you are able to use any of the shelters for gatherings, rent paddle boats, go fishing off the bridge or dam, participate in fitness classes, and more. I highly recommend taking the time to discover what Lake Johnson Park has to offer. Even if you do not live in the City of Raleigh, take a couple hours on a weekend and get out there! I hope this inspires you to discover Lake Johnson or any other park that may be near you.

For more information on Lake Johnson Park, visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  greenways  parks  Raleigh  Recreation 

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Discover NC Parks - Ellis Park, Rowan County, NC

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Monday, July 16, 2018
On July 12th the new All Can Play playground at Ellis Park held their ribbon cutting. This inclusive & ADA accessible is the newest addition to the park which has a community building, picnic shelters, bocce courts, 18 hole disc golf course, game room, horseshoe pits, tennis courts, pickleball courts, sand volleyball court and two ball fields. This 29-acre park also features an event center with a riding arena, judges tower, restrooms, and concession stand. A 1.5-mile walking trail connects the two facilities.

This playground addition was partially funded through a Connect NC Bond program. Rowan County was one of 18 projects across North Carolina selected to receive the grant funding. It was great to see a large crowd out to participate in the ribbon cutting while two busloads of children from a summer camp waited patiently for the festivities to conclude so they could PLAY!

Some featured components of the play structure include accessible swings, braille panel, sign language panel, and musical keyboard panel. Also included in the playground area is an inclusive orbit which is a merry go round that accommodates someone in a wheelchair, seated or standing all at the same time. This is a place where children, parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends with and without disabilities can interact and ”All Can Play.”

After the dedication, I asked for a tour of the community building and had a great conversation with Park Supervisor Craige Farmer. The building was previously an old school house. When it ceased to be used as a school and was placed up for auction, a group of farmers came together to purchase the building and surrounding property and gave it to the county to operate as a park and community gathering place. Today, the building is available for rental and also serves as the offices for the therapeutic recreation division and houses the Rowan County Senior Games.

In addition to all of the smiling faces on the playground, I loved the story of how the community came together to protect an area that was important to them and set it up to support the area for many years to come.

To view a fun video produced by Rowan County on the ribbon cutting visit For more information on Ellis Park visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  parks  recreation  Rowan County 

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Discover NC Parks - Fourth Creek Greenway, Statesville, NC

Posted By James Huffman, Iredell County Parks & Recreation, Friday, July 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2018
For my Discover NC Parks visit, I set off on the Fourth Creek Greenway operated by the Statesville Recreation and Parks. Having recently started with the Iredell County Parks and Recreation Department, in a new to me city, I was excited to see what parks the area has to offer. The Fourth Creek Greenway did not disappoint.

Starting the trail, I was pleasantly walking along enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. Butterflies following me along, the lushness of the foliage, a couple of black walnut trees, burbling of Fourth Creek, happy birds calling to each other, and the occasional Copes gray tree frog awake in the daytime. This is how I envisioned my time at the greenway. I was in for a surprise, as happens often at NC parks, I took a bend in the trail and walked into a massive soccer complex! Little to my knowledge the greenway skirted the outside of the Statesville Soccer Complex. This place is massive! 75 acres with playgrounds, disc golf, sand volleyball, shelters and 7 full-size soccer fields. I was in bliss!

It was a weekday around noon when I visited, thusly the action wasn’t happening. I could easily envision a Saturday during soccer season. The fields full of athletes, children playing on the playgrounds, runners, walkers and cyclist using the greenway and everyone being outside having fun and staying healthy.

I picked the greenway due to my love of them. Taking land that is either unusable or already purposed and making it into a usable green space that helps sustain nature as well as us. As is the case with Fourth Creek. I started in a low area next to the creek, skirted a soccer complex and then followed it under tall power lines. I will be back to finish the greenway and next time with my family, maybe we will gather some of the black walnuts in the fall!

For more information on the Fourth Creek Greenway visit

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Tags:  DiscoverNCParks  greenways  parks  recreation  Statesville 

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50 at 50 | May 25

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, May 24, 2018
This is the last #50at50 park blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out to visit so many “new to me” parks during the past year. I was super excited when I received an invitation to attend the grand opening of the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex in Goldsboro that was held on April 23rd. I have been holding this post to complete this series as it brings me back to the beginning of my love of parks. 

I grew up in the Rosewood Community of Wayne County and the parks I visited as a kid were in Goldsboro. My first park and recreation job was in Goldsboro as the director of the Fun Bunch Day Camp. This camp is still offered today with some of the same activities I helped provide like bowling and swimming. Today, I am excited to share with you the newest park in Goldsboro, the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex.

Goldsboro is the home of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (SJAFB) and the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex is a unique partnership between the city and the base to provide recreational activities. During the grand opening, the Honorable John Henderson, Assistant Secretary of U.S. Air Force Installations, spoke of how this is the first joint P4 partnership between a military base and its home community. This complex will serve as the model for other communities. The 62-acre park was constructed and paid for by the city, with a $3 million loan from Wayne County government and a $3 million voter-approved bond. The development was made possible following a 20-year lease agreement between the city and the U.S. Air Force, which allows the city to develop and maintain the site on base property. As part of the agreement, the city will be paying for a 2,500-square-foot addition to the base's main fitness center.

How do two agencies like a local parks and recreation department and the U.S. Air Force share a facility? Some examples include daily PT, military ceremonies, overflow parking for large events on base, and youth soccer tournaments that will generate tourist spending. As you drive into the park, the first thing I noticed was a plane mounted on a pedestal and this is no ordinary plane. It is a 4E Phantom that was assigned to and remained a part of the 334th Eagles Fighter Squadron at SJAFB from 1977 to 1990 and was the last operational F-4E to serve at the base. The natural area under the plane will soon be designed to look like a soccer ball.

When you partner with the U.S. Air Force, it is only natural to have a flyover by two F-15E Strike Eagles as part of your dedication. Park visitors will have the opportunity to see Air Force fighter jets fly over, as part of daily routines, exercises, and missions. Even though I grew up getting to experience the rumble and thrill of jets as they pass overhead, I’m excited visitors to this complex will get to experience it as well.

The Bryan Multi-Sport Complex has eight multi-sports fields, including two with artificial turf, a concessions stand, walking trails, restrooms, and lots of paved parking. Future additions include a playground, covered picnic shelters and a splash pad. The next time you are heading east, I recommend exiting the Highway 70 bypass and stopping a few moments to enjoy the jets flying overhead and check out this park. More information can be found online at

So what is next? Stay tuned for a special announcement because it really is about a Lifetime of Discovery!

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Tags:  50at50  Goldsboro  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 18

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Thursday, May 17, 2018
Many years ago my family held a gathering in a historic home at Cedarock Park in Alamance County and since I was not able to attend, I took the opportunity to explore this park on my own. Established in 1975, this 500-acre park has some very unique features and creatures. The park is on the site of the historic farm of John and Polly Garrett. From the information signs I read, they established their homestead on this property in 1830 and the farm has been restored to the way it was in the late 1800s. The farm was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980.

While exploring the farm site I found the original home the Garrett’s built while the main house was being built, a building that was once the post office, a corn crib, several buildings used for farm equipment and carriage storage, and the outhouse, while not operational, was in better shape than some I’ve used in the past. And what would a restored farm be without a few sheep, goats and a team of mules? Cedarock park has them all!

In addition the farm, the park offers six miles of hiking trails, six miles of equestrian trails, two disc golf courses with a total of 36 holes for play, two fishing ponds, a picturesque waterfall over an old mill dam, picnic shelters and gazebos, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a playground, canoe and kayak rentals, camping, and ample field space for open play. The even add in a third disc golf course to host tournaments.

So what about the historic house where my family gathered? It is now the visitors center and location of the offices for the Alamance County Parks & Recreation staff. Not a bad place to have an office. If you are looking for a unique experience, this is a great place to put on your list. For more information on Cedarock Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Alamance County  parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 11

Updated: Friday, May 11, 2018
Today I share with you the 48th “new to me” park visit in this series of 50 at 50. Earlier this week on a gorgeous afternoon, I made my way to Mayo Park and Lake which is part of the Person County Recreation, Arts & Parks. Opened in 1998 it consists of 120 acres of parkland and a 3000-acre lake. A boat ramp is provided in conjunction with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the afternoon I was there 4 or 5 trucks with empty trailers were in the parking lot. While down at the boat ramp, I saw a banner promoting the bass fishing tournaments held 4 times between March and June.

In addition to multiple picnic shelters and playgrounds, I found a few hiking trails. One trail had what looked like pages from a book displayed that allows users to read a story as they go along the trail. Following the end of the story, there were a few displays encouraging users to be active by trying garden yoga. Another trail let me find multiple tee boxes and baskets on the Sasquatch Disc Golf Course. Be sure to the check out their signs in the pics below. The park rents kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards, has a fishing pole loaner program and offers summer movies in the amphitheater. The amphitheater is a popular location for weddings and the community room in the Environmental Education Community Center is a popular rental location for parties, weddings, family reunions, and community events. In another area of the park, I found an area that houses 10 horseshoe courts where they host tournaments. The courts are near the campground that includes cabins, along with tent and RV sites and bathhouses.

Before leaving, I had the chance to chat with Park Ranger Jeffery Streets about the programs offered at the park. He is a parks and recreation graduate from NC Central and grew up in Person County. I have to agree with his assessment that “Mayo Park and Lake is one of the best-kept secrets around”. Now that I’ve shared the secret, I encourage you to visit if you are in the area.

For more information on Mayo Park and Lake visit

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Tags:  50at50  lake  parks  Person County  recreation 

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50 at 50 | May 4

Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2018
Remember the NC Connect Bond from March 2016? This statewide bond initiative included one-time funding of $3 million for parks and recreation grants to benefit children and/or veterans with disabilities for local park projects. On my visit to Massey Hill Park which sits on just over 15 acres in Fayetteville, I got to see a completed project just before the grand opening was held on April 14th. With $250,000 in funding from the bond was used to update the baseball field behind the community center with a rubberized surface. In past years, parks and recreation staff used temporary rubber mats that stretched along the base paths to accommodate play for their Buddy Baseball program.

In addition to funds from the NC Connect Bond, the citizens of Fayetteville passed a $35 million dollar bond referendum in March of 2016 to support this effort and the city received a $40,000 grant from the MLB’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund. This summer, the Buddy Baseball program will be enjoying a newly universally accessible installed field made entirely of a flat, rubberized surface, as well as upgrades to the fencing, dugouts and access paths leading to the field.

After my visit, I had a chance to talk to Parks & Recreation Director Michael Gibson and he told me how the outfield fence had been extended to 125 feet versus the standard 110-115 feet. This additional space in the outfield has created an additional mini field to be used for playing other sports like soccer, kickball, and hockey. I loved how adding a little extra in the outfield will allow for programming after the baseball season is over. The Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department works with the two VA hospitals in the area to provide programs through the Wounded Warrior program to provide programs for adults.

The other new feature at the park includes an accessible splash pad and playground. I see the park getting a great use following games on the field and by citizens in the community and students at the school next door. After having a little fun taking selfies at the splash pad, I explored the grounds of the center and found a unique display of hanging 2-liter bottles that had been converted to planters.

From the online articles, pictures, and videos I’ve discovered following the grand opening of this facility, it is one that will be loved and enjoyed for years to come while providing programs for kids and adults! For more information on the Massey Hill Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Fayetteville  parks  recreation  Wounded Warriors 

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50 at 50 | April 27

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 27, 2018
During my visit to Hope Mills Municipal Park, I found lots of opportunities for recreation.  The park includes the community center with a gym, meeting rooms, a game room and the office for the parks and recreation department.  Following a brief visit with staff, I set out to explore the park which opened in 1981.  

Having been in the car for most of the day, I was looking an opportunity to stretch my legs and finding the 1.8-mile greenway around the park was the perfect way to explore all that was available.  Right across from where I parked the car, was the dog park with areas for large and small dogs.  Then I passed the baseball/softball fields prepped for upcoming games.  Next, I heard the bouncing of a basketball during a pick-up game at the outdoor court.  I met numerous citizens of varying ages and abilities using the greenway.  One lady who I spoke with briefly told me she was recovering from knee replacement and was glad the weather was better so she could get out and walk every day even if it was at a slow pace.  

After passing a picnic shelter, I heard the laughter and excited squeals of children as I neared the playground.  The kids were running and moving to the various pieces of equipment while the adults in this area were pretty quiet and most of them appeared to be talking with someone or looking at their phones.  As I continued on the greenway, I heard a ‘swish’ sound and found the skatepark where four young men were practicing their skills as they went down, up and over the ramps and apparatus.  The sounds varied from excitement for a trick well done to a thud and groans for a trick gone wrong.  

From here, I stayed on the greenway and got to explore other town services that share borders with the park.  First was the library, then the fire department, followed by the police department and finally town hall before I returned to the community center. In the parking lot that serves many of these town services was a food truck rodeo with a variety of offerings to be enjoyed.  

Before returning to my car, I visited the Armed Forces Veterans Memorial, a place of reverence and respect.  It was the perfect way to end my visit at the park.  For more information on the programs offered at Hope Mills Municipal Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Hope Mills  Parks  Recreation 

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50 at 50 | April 20

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 20, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018
There are not many parks that have a beach and I recently found one at Luther Britt Park while visiting Lumberton. The 142-acre park opened in 1986 and has 35 acres of water. The clubhouse overlooking the beach area is a focal point of the park. While closed for swimming on the day I visited, I was able to see that when they open for the summer season they will also offer paddle boats for rental. With 2 lakes on the property, I can imagine one is used more for the active activities and one is for fishing. During my 3 mile walk on the trails, I stopped to enjoy the view and a little porch swinging lakeside.

Located right off I-95, I would agree with’s assessment that Luther Britt Park is Lumberton's Best Kept Secret. So how did I find it? I stopped by the Lumberton Parks & Recreation office and a photo of the beach and clubhouse caught my eye. After talking to Parks & Recreation Director Tim Taylor, I knew I had to visit. The park has an 18-hole disc golf course and one of the baskets is on an island in the lake. From the 17th tee box, the disc travels across the water. I asked about “lost discs” and they have a scuba group come out and clean up periodically. I also found out what happened at the park as a result of Hurricane Matthew. The park received 20 acres of water and the clubhouse was under water for 1 week. Yes, I confirmed I heard that right.

The park looked to be mostly recovered on the day I visited. While walking around, I saw several playgrounds, picnic shelters and lots of picnic tables under the trees. In addition to kids playing at the water’s edge and adults fishing, some turtles were sunning on a log. An amphitheater overlooking the water was getting a new roof compliments of the local Kiwanis Club.

The next time I’m traveling along I-95 and need a break, Luther Britt Park is where I’ll be heading! For more information on Luther Britt Park visit

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Tags:  50at50  Lumberton  parks  recreation 

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50 at 50 | April 13

Posted By MICHELLE WELLS, NC RECREATION & PARK ASSN, Friday, April 13, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2018
This week’s park visit took me to Pembroke, NC, the 2017 Small Town of the Year as awarded by the NC Rural Center. Located in Robeson County which is along our state’s southern border, Pembroke Parks and Recreation offers a lot for their just under 3000 citizens in some creative ways. All of their facilities are located at the Pembroke Recreation Complex including the parks and recreation office.

The Pembroke Recreation Complex opened in 2008. This complex houses fields for soccer, sand volleyball courts, outdoor basketball courts, a walking trail, 4 baseball/softball fields, batting cages, and a picnic shelter. The scorer’s tower in the hub of the 4 field complex houses a concession stand, restrooms and the parks and recreation director’s office. Pembroke has no indoor facilities and this is where the creativity and partnerships come into play. The department partners with the Boys & Girls Club and the school system for use of gym space, while senior programs are hosted by the housing authority and fire department. This was the first time I had heard of programs being hosted at a fire department. After learning about this, I thought about how wonderful it is that unlikely partnerships are allowing services to be provided.

I visited this park while many schools were observing spring break. There were children of various ages playing on the playground while parents and grandparents watched. The walking trail was being used and people were enjoying the park benches throughout the park. It made me smile to see a child riding his bike and so many people enjoying themselves at the park on what was a beautiful day.

For more information on Pembroke Parks & Recreation visit

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Tags:  50at50  parks  Pembroke  recreation 

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