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Ottawa County's Outdoor Explorers program gets kids outside this fall

The program serves ages four to 14. Each session is $10, and scholarships are available.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — With more students learning on screens amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa County Parks is inviting kids to take part in its Ottawa Outdoor Explorer Program. 

The outdoor learning sessions will run throughout the fall and welcome children four through 14. Sessions will be lead by naturalists guides and will include kayaking, games, walks and more.

"We all know what it’s like to be inside all day long. We experienced that this spring," Kristen Hinz, Coordinator of Interpretive Services for Ottawa County Parks, said, "It’s the opportunity for kids to be outside where there’s plenty of space. Where COVID-19 is not such a big issue."

Sessions each cost $10, but Hinz said there are scholarship opportunities available for families who are struggling to find the money.

"We want to make sure that we’re providing this opportunity for everybody." she said.

Hinz said the program only requires masks if children are doing an activity that involves close contact. However, she said her team is skilled at keeping children spread out and will keep up on other health precautions like hand-washing.

"We are out in the fresh air, and so there's not that need to always be wearing a mask," Hinz explained.

Sessions begin this month and are offered each week for the various age groups. Activities will change with each session. According to Hinz, there will not be a set curriculum, but rather an exploration approach. 

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"Often we don’t know what we’re looking for until we start to listen and breathe and slow down," she said, "...When you move, you breathe that fresh air in. Your mind clears of any kind of stress that you have, and you begin to relax. Kids need that too especially being on a screen all day long through virtual learning."

RELATED: Grand Valley State reports biggest COVID-19 school outbreak in the state

For more information on the program and scholarships, click here.

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