A SWAT (SouthWest Arkansas Tour) Overnight Camp is taking place July 24- 27 for those wanting to explore some of the varied state parks that can be found in Southwest Arkansas. The camp is open to kids ages 9-13 and the agenda includes hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking, campfire cooking, and more. The camp is a collaborative state park event and kids get a chance to visit four different state parks during the camp. Participants will spend three nights and four days camping and experiencing programs at each park.
“A lot of the campers are not able to go to our state parks on their own, so we are trying to help the campers experience some of the closer parks, and the many different programs,” said Shelley Flanary, Park Interpreter at Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area. “This is a group effort on all four of the parks for this SWAT camp. We are just base camp and handle most of the camp details.”
“The first day starts at Cossatot State Park-Natural Area, then the next day we will spend at Queen Wilhelmina State Park and return back to Cossatot for the evening,” Flanary said. “The third day we will head to Daisy State Park and do programming there and by mid-afternoon we will head to Historic Washington State Park to stay the night in their bunk house and do evening programming. The last day is spent at Historic Washington going through their village. This way we are able to introduce the campers to a wild and scenic river park, a mountain park, a lake park, and a historical park.”
Flanary started the camp last year with the help of park interpreters from the included parks. “The idea started due to having two TENT trailers in our park system,” she said. “Arkansas’ State Parks Traveling Educational Nature Trailer (TENT) exists to provide a mobile center for learning and sharing knowledge about the natural world and provide camping and outdoor experiences to diverse audiences. This trailer increases the effectiveness of each park’s interpretive mission through access to camping and specialized interpretive equipment. Use of this interpretive trailer, along with professional interpretive presentations, enhances and enriches the visitor’s knowledge of the natural environment.”
Flanary said some of the highlights of this event last year included introducing campers to the mission of the parks they visit and to different forms of outdoor recreation such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, Dutch oven cooking, archery and snorkeling. “One of our favorite things to do during this camp is while sitting around the fire each evening, we have the campers write in their journals of the fun experiences they learned and to tell us things they would like to do more than others,” she said. “This way we can make the camp focus on areas the campers enjoy and learn from.”
Registration is $125 per camper and this includes meals, daily snacks, gear rental, and transportation. For more information and to make required reservations call 479- 394-6927 or visit arkansasstateparks.com/cossatotriver.