It was a beautiful day for a hike through the woods, building sand castles, fishing, and a picnic.
And, according to seventh-graders, the 67-degree water was even warm enough for a swim.
About 75 seventh-graders from Eisenhower Middle High School visited Chapman State Park on Tuesday.
Times Observer photos by Brian Ferry
A day at the beach
Seventh-graders from Eisenhower Middle High School (above) from left, Alyssa Melice, Emily Rutsky, and Emily Bailey, bury Jocelyn Courtney in the sand at Chapman State Park. Below, (from left) Emily Satterfield and Lauren Honhart put the finishing touches on their Sandman entry in the sand castle building contest.
Among the morning's activities were geocaching, a scavenger hunt, and a stream survey.
"Some of them didn't know what geocaching was," Chapman's Environmental Education Specialist Jen Moore said. "We introduced them to that."
The students learned about global positioning system (GPS) devices and used them to find three hidden caches in the park.
The scavenger hunt featured less technology. "We went in the woods and tried to find what was on the list," Serena Haight said. The list included flying things, things of certain sizes and shapes, and others.
In the stream, students checked on the state of the water, taking its temperature and pH, and looking for macroinvertebrates - crayfish and insect larvae, for the most part - and other creatures including salamanders.
After a hot dog lunch, students went to the beach.
They had 20 minutes to create sand castles, with a catch. The sand creations had to represent something related to the park. Eligible subjects were reptiles and amphibians, fish, the lake, forest habitat, and anything else the kids could justify. Moore joined the teachers in evaluating the creations.
There were turtles, a salamander, lakes with islands, a sandman, and even a buried person - who got out of his sandy prison before the judging after taking sand in the face once too many times.
Other teams buried team members separate from the castle-building event. "It's kinda fun to just lay here," Jocelyn Courtney said. "It's warm."
It wasn't all fun. During her burial, Courtney ended up with sand on her face. "It was very painful because they had to pour (lake) water on me to get it off," she said. "It went up my nose."
"I'm such a good friend," Emily Rutsky said.
During and after the construction, most of the students spent some time in the water.
Travis Wilcox was in for about 10 minutes. "I was first one in," he said. "I was hoping to go swimming."
Ten minutes was long enough for him to decide the water wasn't warm enough. "It is freezing," he said. "It was crazy."
Some students left the water and went to the end of the lake to wrap up the day outdoors with some fishing.
After the outing, some of the students may have found a new place to visit during their summer vacations. "A lot of these kids have never been to the park before," Moore said.