Although we're not quite into spring yet, it's not too soon to start thinking about summer day camps for the kids. The East Bay Regional Park District offers a lot of options, and the sooner you check them out, the more choices you will have.
The day camp season starts June 17. There are camps at regional parks in Pleasanton, Antioch, Oakland, Berkeley, Castro Valley and Fremont. Camps have aquatic, educational or recreational themes for kids ages 6 and older.
Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont offers camps for ages 5 and older. Generally the camps run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Age ranges and schedules vary by camp, and the fees vary depending on the length of time offered. The Regional Parks Foundation provides financial assistance for those who qualify.
Regional park rangers, naturalists, lifeguards and recreation leaders team up to help with the camps. Camp staffs are CPR and first aid qualified.
The park district also offers a "Leaders in Training" program for teens interested in becoming camp counselors.
For more information on day camping schedules and fees, visit the park district website at www.ebparks.org and look for the summer day camp logo on the right side of the home page. Or call 888-EBPARKS (888-327-2757).
The park district also offers a variety of seasonal full-time and part-time jobs, including lifeguard and recreation leader positions. These are ideal for students and those who enjoy working in the outdoors.
And there are two training programs for student aides, who work year-round in the visitor centers or with the Public Safety Department.
For more information, contact the district's Human Resources Division, 2950 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland CA 94605, call 510-544-2154 or visit www.ebparks.org/jobs.
Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley is home to the East Bay Regional Park District's newest visitor center, which is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, with a variety of programs highlighting the natural history of the Delta.
For instance, from 11 a.m. to noon every Saturday and from 2 to 3 p.m. each Sunday, the center's interpretive staff leads games, activities and explorations of the Delta's watery world.
And from 9 to 10 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, you can help the staff test water quality changes that affect the Delta's plant and animal life.
Kayaking is another great opportunity at Big Break. Naturalists Mike Moran and Kevin Damstra will lead trips for both beginners and more experienced kayakers from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and again from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, March 16, and April 20.
The programs are for ages 8 and older. All start with dry land instruction, then a paddle along the shoreline. Registration is required, and there's a fee of $30 per person ($35 for nondistrict residents).
Intermediate kayakers can sign up for a Big Break trip from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24. This one is for ages 14 and older, and the fee is $45 ($51 for nondistrict residents).
For information and to register for any of the kayak trips, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2. Or visit www.ebparksonline.org. In the event of high winds on the Delta, trips can be canceled. Registrants will be informed.
The Big Break Regional Shoreline and visitor center are located on Big Break Road off Highway 4 in Antioch. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050 or e-mail BigBreakVisit@ebparks.org.
Back on dry land, there's a geology program planned from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 23, at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, led by naturalist Bob Kanagaki.
The area was a shallow sea millions of years ago, and the focus is on rocks and fossils on the surface and in the mine.The program is for ages 7 and older. Registration is required, and there's a fee of $5 for the mine tour. To register, call 888-327-2757 and select option 2.
At Tilden Nature Area in Berkeley, naturalist James Wilson has scheduled a couple of short hikes with some of Tilden's resident goats, while learning about their connections with humans. James' walks are from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, and again at the same time on March 30.
Fun with the sun is on the agenda from 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 10, at Tilden's Environmental Education Center. Interpretive student aide Morgan Rani Evans will shed some light on our neighbor overhead.
The center is located at the north end of Tilden's Central Park Drive. For more information, call 510-544-2233.
Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda offers programs about the natural history of San Francisco Bay. Located at 1252 McKay Ave., the center contains a large aquarium, the Old Wharf Classroom, and exhibits showcasing Crown Beach's colorful past.
From 11 to 11:30 a.m. every Sunday in March, it's story time for the kids, with characters like the Lorax and "Swimmy the Fish."
And there's a free Catch of the Day activity from 2 to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. On March 9-10, the topic is how to make a nature journal. After the program, the staff feeds the crabs, flounder, perch, pipefish and other aquarium fish from 3 to 3:30 p.m.
For more information on Crab Cove Visitor Center, call 510-544-3187.
Saturday Strolls are a series of easy-to-moderate, family friendly hikes led by park district naturalists. There's one from 10 a.m. to noon March 9, a three-miler starting at the Trudeau Training Center at 11500 Skyline Blvd. in Oakland. For more information, call 510-544-3187.
If you're up for a somewhat strenuous hike, join naturalist Cat Taylor from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, for a trek at Brushy Peak Regional Preserve.
The payoff for your efforts will be spectacular views of the Livermore Valley, and a chance to see golden eagles. Bring lunch or a snack.
This hike is best for ages 7 and older. Meet at the staging area at the end of Laughlin Road, north of I-580 in Livermore. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3242.
Email Ned MacKay at email@example.com.