Families learned about the great outdoors Sunday, from equipment they should use while camping and hiking to critters that might roam the woods with them.
The Northeast Georgia History Center at Brenau University in Gainesville sponsored the educational sessions as part of its monthly Family Day.
Visitors to “Traditions of the Trail — Hiking Northeast Georgia” could explore interactive exhibits on hiking trails and parks in Northeast Georgia and learn about area hiking groups.
They also could register for door prizes — Mark Trail prints as signed by artist Ed Dodd — as well as view essential hiking gear and learn how to pack a backpack.
Dean Smith of Gainesville was showing visitors how to make a toothbrush out of a black gum tree twig. He used a potato peeler to remove a thin layer of bark, then placed the twig in his mouth and chewed on it enough to form bristles needed to scour teeth.
“This also can be used as a paint brush,” he told Cecilia Castro, who watched the demonstration with her mother, Christina Castro-Tauser of Gainesville.
Castro-Tauser said they lived only a couple of blocks away from the center and the Family Day trips are convenient and fun.
“It’s a learning and family activity,” she said. “We take a little walk here and enjoy the day.”
As a result of the regular trips over the past couple of years, 10-year-old Cecilia has “learned a lot and gotten interested in historical things,” said her mother.
Cecilia, a fourth-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy in Gainesville, said she likes history but she particularly enjoys the crafts at Family Day. She recalled making a wooden
frame at Christmas.
Crafts were also part of Sunday’s outdoors focus.
Stephanie Little helped her 5-year-old son, Bryson, with making a flashlight design using colored beads.
“Our family is into camping and hiking, so we came to see what we could learn and do,” said Little, who also brought her 3-year-old son Siler.
Also on display at the center were a few animals of the wild — a corn snake, American toad and gopher tortoise, which is the state reptile.
Also, visitors could meet with Boy Scout Troop 15 to learn about reading a compass or stop at a display table to view the kinds of first aid items people should carry with them while hiking.