Holston Center Opens Day Camp

Holston Presbytery Camp and Retreat Center will operate a Day Camp program beginning May 25. HPCRC’s Day Camp provides a Christ-centered childcare for our surrounding community. Holston is celebrating its 65th anniversary.

The program operates Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. A light breakfast is served from 8:00 until 8:30. Lunch and a mid afternoon snack is also served. Sessions are planned through June, July, and August. Day Camp will not operate the week of July 4. It is open to rising 1st through rising 8th graders in limited numbers.

“We have carefully considered the CDC guidelines in combination with American Camp Association’s recommendations for day camps and have concluded we can conduct a safe and healthy program that meets the needs of the community,” said Jim Austin, Director.

The camp plans to observe the following guidelines to keep the campers safe: social distancing, wearing face masks, being primarily outdoors, practicing sanitation and hygiene, and monitoring groups.

We will continue to require a safe distance of 6’ between campers. This may be easier said than done with children eager to be with their friends, but we recognize the value of this practice. We have designed activities that observe social distancing,” said Austin.

“We ask that each camper bring a clean, washable, cloth mask to camp. Although we feel we can be in open areas without a mask, there will be times we need to apply face protection.”

Research shows that transmission of a virus is less likely in open, outdoor spaces. Holston Camp has 150 acres of beautiful, wooded land for children to explore. The camp has several open air pavilions where children can play on a rainy day.

“We will practice personal hygiene and sanitation every day. We are abiding by CDC standards for cleanliness in our kitchen, bathrooms, and indoor areas. We will sanitize commonly touched surfaces daily,” Austin said.

Enrollment will be limited to smaller groups stationed at different points on campus. Groups will not be allowed to co-mingle. Temperatures will be taken at drop-off, at lunch, and at pick-up. Campers will be closely monitored for any symptoms that indicate a possible infection.

Although Holston Overnight Camp has been canceled for June, it is tentatively scheduled for July with a modified program called ALL IN CAMP. Overnight camps will be held in the “rustic” campsite areas where campers can enjoy screened-in cabins, bathhouse, and open-air, covered picnic areas.

With these key factors in place, Holston provides youth a summer camp experience that unites them with friends, offers stimulating activities and conversations, and identifies God as our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Register at www.HolstonCenter.org.

Please call Jim Austin, Director with any questions. (844) 465-7866.

Grandfather Mountain will tentatively open in a limited capacity May 15

Following a two-month closure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Grandfather Mountain will tentatively open in a limited capacity May 15, with all ticket sales moving online.

Photo Credit: Grandfather.com

In accordance with N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phased “reopening” of North Carolina, the park will strictly limit visitor numbers to follow social gathering guidelines, while implementing enhanced health and safety measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and federal, state and local authorities.

While guests will still be able to enjoy Grandfather Mountain’s many wonders, including the Mile High Swinging Bridge, environmental wildlife habitats and hiking, the park will be operating in a more limited capacity to ensure the safety of visitors and staff.

  • Now, rather than purchasing tickets at the park’s entrance gate, visitors must do so online at www.grandfather.com by placing a reservation for a set date and time of entry. This measure aims to help limit the number of guests in the park at one time, in accordance with the state’s social gathering guidelines. As such, tickets will not be sold or available at the gate, meaning visitors must book online in advance.
  • Park officials have enacted operational measures to discourage crowds and encourage social distancing. Buildings, such as the Nature Museum and Fudge Shop, will remain temporarily closed, with public restrooms available at the Woods Walk Picnic Area.
  • The Top Shop will welcome a limited number of guests at a time, while the park’s on-site restaurant, Mildred’s Grill, will offer curbside pick-up, allowing guests to dine in their vehicles or at one of the park’s 100-plus picnic sites.
  • High-traffic pedestrian areas, such as the Mile High Swinging Bridge and wildlife habitats, will implement a one-way directional system to ensure that guests do not come within six feet of each other — the minimum safe distance recommended by the CDC and other health officials.
  • The number of guests allowed to visit such areas at one time will be limited, based on state social gathering recommendations, while a time limit will ensure that others can participate in turn. However, guests are welcome revisit such areas during the same trip. Time limits will be not be enforced for the park’s less crowded, lower-traffic areas.
  • The park has enhanced its already stringent cleaning procedures and placed additional sanitization stations in key areas, while boosting staff presence to direct traffic flow and encourage safe social distancing.  
  • The park’s policies and opening dates are subject to change and reflect measures implemented in Phase 1 of the state’s reopening plan. Once Phase 2 is reached, Grandfather will follow suit, opening additional facilities and allowing more visitors to the park. Once Phase 3 is achieved, the park can accommodate a more significant number of guests.

The park’s new reservation-based ticketing system is now open at tickets.grandfather.comTickets are only available online to encourage contact-free admission to the park. Tickets are also fully refundable and may be exchanged for a later reservation.

Opening dates and operational procedures are subject to change, based on current conditions and federal, state and local regulations. As such, those planning a trip are encouraged to visit www.grandfather.com for updates.

PBS KIDS Campaign Helps Children & Families Thank Essential Workers

This month, PBS KIDS invites children and families around the nation to give thanks to the people who are helping their local communities amidst the fight against COVID-19. Kicking off during Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8, 2020), the PBS KIDS “Thank You Neighbors” campaign encourages families to celebrate essential workers in their communities – from teachers and healthcare professionals, to grocery store clerks and delivery personnel. Resources to help children share their gratitude and learn about the roles helpers play in the community are available on pbskidsforparents.org, which will be updated throughout the month.

“Gratitude is a powerful tool— it’s something we can give back to those who help us every day, and it offers children a therapeutic outlet that leads to positive emotions,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, Children’s Media and Education, PBS. “Fred Rogers said it best when he said, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ There are so many people who are helping in our communities today, and we encourage families to join us in celebrating them for making our communities safer, stronger and healthier in this unprecedented time.”

Throughout the month on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, PBS KIDS and local PBS stations in communities across the nation will provide fill-in-the-blank cards for families to complete and share digitally with the hashtag #ThankYouNeighbors – thanking teachers and essential workers. PBS KIDS has also created printable coloring sheets with fill-in-the-blank prompts that can be e-mailed to teachers and essential workers, or posted in windows for community helpers to see.

On pbskids.org and the PBS KIDS Games app, children can play the Hero Maker Game, which allows them to create essential worker heroes like postal carriers, utilities workers, first responders, doctors and more. The game is inspired by PBS KIDS series XAVIER RIDDLE AND THE SECRET MUSEUM, which is based on the children’s book series, Ordinary People Change the World. In addition, the PBS KIDS for Parents website will feature articles that can help parents teach their children about the essential workers in their communities and how to be a good neighbor.

PBS KIDS videos will also help children explore the helpers that make up a community, and how to say thank-you to others. From DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD to PBS KIDS’ “You Me Community” music videos, a variety of content is available on the free PBS KIDS Video App. Additionally, a “Thank You Neighbors” playlist from PBS KIDS favorite series is available on PBS KIDS YouTube.

And in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5), PBS today announced the educators selected for the PBS 2020 Digital Innovator All-Star program, which recognizes teachers nominated by their local PBS stations as leaders in their communities. Read more here.

Join PBS KIDS in saying #ThankYouNeighbors on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

The lights are off but the Turchin Center is OPEN!

During this time of COVID-19, the Turchin Center is offering art experiences that you can enjoy from home. There is an experience for all ages!

Disney Bedtime Hotline is back for a limited time

Disney Bedtime Hotline is back for a limited time from shopDisney.com! Parents, call 1-877-7-MICKEY to hear a special goodnight message from your favorite Disney characters, all from the comfort of home.

Let’s have a Social Distancing Egg Hunt!

With local egg hunts canceled, the virtual version is based on a similar concept.

High Country Residents are encouraged to create artwork eggs of any sort and place them in your windows for children to spot. Families can travel around in their car and go on an egg hunt. Thanks to ASU Professor, Trudy Moss, for this excellent idea!

Are you in? Help spread the word.

First look into the new Watauga Recreation Center Aquatics Facility

Assistant Aquatics Director, Kyle Disney, shows the great view from the 20 foot crazy eight slide on the Watauga Recreation Center’s Twitter account.

Doesn’t that look like so much fun? Also, the official membership rates are as follows.

Opening day will be announced at a later date as the Recreation Center staff continue to monitor the situation of COVID-19 outbreak.

Playgrounds, courts, picnic shelters in Watauga closed until further notice

BOONE — Watauga County, in conjunction with the towns of Beech Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone and Seven Devils, will be closing all playgrounds, recreational courts and picnic shelters, effective Monday, March 30, at noon until further notice.

“This is a preventive measure to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus and lessen its impact on our community,” AppHealthCare, the regional public health department, stated. “As this situation evolves rapidly, Watauga County and partner municipalities will continue monitoring usage of recreation facilities to determine if further action is warranted for social distancing. The county is taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of its residents during this rapidly changing situation.”

This closure also applies to school playgrounds. Child care facilities will still operate as they are exempt from this closure.

These new guidelines will be incorporated as part of the existing Watauga County state of emergency that is currently in effect through the course of this public health emergency.

“During this difficult time, we recognize everyone will need an outlet for physical exercise to help manage stress and support their overall physical health,” said Deron Geouque, county manager, in a statement. “Therefore, we have kept the use of trail and walking areas open for now. However, we are encouraging people to continue to avoid using any facility if they feel ill, have a fever (or) a cough and to keep six feet between themselves and others.”

Amid warmer weather over the weekend, several reports and photos circulated on social media of large gatherings of people at popular swimming holes, including along the Watauga River.

“It is becoming clear to us that there are some in our community that are not taking this risk seriously, said Jennifer Greene, health director. “Please, I cannot stress enough how critical it is for you to help protect all of us through your actions. Governor Cooper’s updated executive order clearly bans gatherings of 10 or more people starting Monday, March 30. We expect people to follow this order to help protect the entire community. Now is the time to think of others and know that this illness can be severe.”

People at high risk include anyone who:

– Is 65 years of age or older
– Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
– Have a high-risk condition that includes: Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; Heart disease with complications; Compromised immune system; Severe obesity – body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher; or Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

People who are at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible to decrease the chance of infection, the department said.

AppHealthCare is available and on-call 24/7 to respond to public health emergencies. To reach them, call (828) 264-4995 anytime and follow the prompts. Visit www.AppHealthCare.com or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Questions from agencies requesting support on COVID-19 response, planning efforts, etc. can contact preparedness@apphealth.com.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has more information at cdc.gov/coronavirus. North Carolina resources can be found on the Division of Public Health website at ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus.

A COVID-19 toll free helpline has been set up to answer general, non-emergent questions at 1-866-462-3821. To submit questions online, go to www.ncpoisoncontrol.org and select “chat.”

Introducing BRAHM at Home

Our friends at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum have an exciting announcement. They are introducing BRAHM at Home.

Families can stay engaged virtually with the museum. To continue to connect with the High Country community, they have launched BRAHM at Home.

This new online initiative features a variety of artistic challenges, deep-dives, unique gallery tours, program highlights, and youth engagement. They aim to provide some creative light to these uncertain and challenging times.

Enjoy and be sure to follow BRAHM on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to connect with #BRAHMatHome

Please note: The Museum will remain closed until it is deemed safe to gather in public. Check BlowingRockMuseum.org for any changes.

Free One-of-a-Kind Learning Experience from Disney Imagineers

We are sharing ideas that families can do at home during this time of social distancing. Disney Imagineers recently released this “Imagineering in a Box” series.

Josh Gorin, Creative Development Executive with Walt Disney Imagineering, wrote on Disney Parks Blog that Imagineering in a Box is a series of interactive lessons in theme park design and engineering, designed to give a behind-the-scenes peek into Imagineering’s development process. It combines 32 videos of actual Imagineers, real-world case studies, and lots of interactive activities to give you the opportunity to dream and design your very own theme park experience!

With so many families at home together right now, the Imagineering team thought this would be an especially useful time to share this program with you. It’s available to all and completely free.

How are you using this program? Use #Disney, #BetterTogether and #ImagineeringinaBox on Instagram and tag @WaltDisneyImagineering to let Walt Disney know.