The following information was provided by the USDA's Food Stamp Program in a booklet titled the Family Fun Guide -- Play Hard In (And Around) Van Buren County. Each page in the booklet is given its own title (marked in bold).

Introduction - For Parents

Why this guide? This guide was developed with Can Buren County kids and families in mind. Children today are not active enough. Being inactive can lead to serious health problems that used to show up only in adults such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Chiuldren need activity every day -- and they should have fun doing it! This guide contains lots of fun things kids can do in and around Van Buren County to be active. So turn off your TV, dump the controller, choose something out of this book and ... Play hard in Van Buren County. You'll be glad you did!

Children's Eating and Physical Activity Habits Are Not What They Should Be

The percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight has more than doubled in the past thirty years with most of the increase since the late 1970's. Over one half of the children at the heaviest weight percentiles will persist in being heavy into adulthood. Between 1977 and 1995 the number of walking and bicycling trips made by children ages 5-15 dropped by 40%. Children ages 2-18 spend an average of hour hours a day watching television or videotapes, playing video games or using a computer.

Link Physical Activity with Books

There is a natural link between reading, nutrition, and physical activity. Kids love to read stories about things connected to their own daily lives such as playing sports, being active and family mealtime. This guide uses a Book Link to help parents connect reading and physical activity. You can find many of these books at school and at the local library. By reading the Book Link book with your child before, after (or sometimes while) doing the activity you will help to teach him or her that physical activity is healthy -- and fun!

Great Places to Read and Play

You can play and reward with your child in many great places throughout Van Buren County. So grab your child's favorite book, pack some water and a healthy snack and visit these great places where you can read and play.

  • Covert Park Beach (Covert)
  • Ely Park (Hartford)
  • Lake Woolfe Beach (Decatur)
  • Maple Isle (Paw Paw)
  • Mattawan Park (Mattawan)
  • Riverfront Marina (South Beach, South Haven)
  • Stanly Johnson Park (South Haven)
  • Any of Van Buren County's many parks, lakes, and beaches.

Get Busy Reading!!!

Research shows that children who read in their free time are better readers, so...start encouraging your child to read today.

  • Pick a place to read. Set up a reading corner where your child can read. Choose a place in your house that isn't too busy or noisy. Make it comfortable by adding a reading light and a comfortable chair and some pillows.
  • Stop the interruptions! Find time to read wqith your child every day. Turn off the TV, pagers and cell phones. Don't answer the door or phone. Your child will appreciate the attention and know that he or she is special to you.
  • Be a reading role model. Let your child see you readfing a book or magazine. Talk about how you use reading in your job throughout the day.

Make Reading Part of Your Active Lifestyle (Fun Literacy Games to Play on the Go)

  • Outdoor ABC: Say a letter. The first person to name five things to do outside beginning with that letter gets top pick the next letter.
  • Groovy Letters: Try to shape your body like letters in the alphabet and have players guess the letters. Spell out a word. The first one to guess the word gets to go next.
  • Moving Rhymes: Hop, stop, pop -- these words all rhyme! Make a game of rhyming activity words and then doing the activity. Whoever goes first picks a word and everyone does the activity. The next person chooses a word that rhymes and everyone does that activity, and on it goes!

Read and Move

Try these fun book sthat make you want to get up and move!

  • The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter
  • Dem Bones by Bob Barner
  • Animal Action ABC by Karen Pandell
  • Shimmy Shake Earthquake: Don't forget to Dance Poems by Cynthia Jabar
  • My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss

Public Libraries: Check out the books and fun activities!

Van Buren County libraries have a wonderful variuety of books available to check out. Free activities, story hours, and summer reading programs are available. Call for information.

  • Antwerp Sunshine Library, 24823 Front, Mattawan, 269-668-2535
  • Bangor Branch Library, 420 Division St., Bangor, 269-427-8810
  • Bloomingdale Branch Library, 109 E Kalamazoo, Bloomingdale, 269-521-7601
  • Covert Branch Library, 33805 M-140, Covert, 269-764-1298
  • Gobles Branch Library, 105 E. Main, Gobles, 269-628-4537
  • Hartford Public Library, 21 Franklin, Hartford, 269-621-3408
  • Lawrence Branch Library, 212 N Paw Paw St, Lawrence, 269-674-3200
  • Lawton Public Library, 125 S Main, Lawton, 269-624-5481
  • Paw Paw District Library, 609 W Michigan, Paw Paw, 269-657-3800
  • South Haven Memorial Library, 314 Broadway, South Haven, 269-637-2403
  • Van Buren District Library, 200 N Phelps, Decatur, 269-423-4471

Team Nutrition

Team Nutrition is a national initiative designed to motivate, encourage, and empower schools, families, and the coimmunity to wkrk together to improve school meals and to make food and physical activity choices for a healthy lifestyle. Team Nutrition is helping children in grades Pre-K through 12 and their families to:

  • Eat a variety of fooeds.
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, ad whole grains.
  • Eat lower fat foods more often.
  • Get your calcium-rich foods.
  • Be physically active.

To learn more about Michigan Team Nutrition, to to www.tn.fcs.msue.msu.edu.

Animals

Take the family dog for a walk, play with the cat, or try to (gently) catch fireflies. There is a lot of fun to be had with our friends from the animal kingdom. Even if you don't have a pet, the Humane Society always welcomes families who would like to visit and play with their resident dogs and cats. The animals appreciate it too!

  • Al-Van Humane Society (South Haven) 269-637-5062
  • Binder Park Zoo and Wild Africa 269-979-1351
  • Deer Forest Fun Park (Coloma) 2169-468-4961

Book Link: Walter, the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

Art Classes

"Art" can include lot sof different ways to wake your body up and get you moving. The South Haven Center for the Arts often has kids classes that are good for your body such as:

  1. Music and Movement
  2. Children's Theater
  3. Children's Dance

Call the South Haven Center for the Arts for more information at 269-637-1041.

Many local area craft and specialty stores also provide art classes for youth.

  • Decorative Treasures: 269-637-1819
  • The Seeded Earth: 269-674-8887

Book Link: Frog Legs: A Picture Book of Action Verses by Greg Shannon

AYSO: American Youth Soccer Organization

Many kids in Van Buren County play soccer for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO). If your child is interested in playing soccer in Van Buren County, here are some things you should know.

  1. Sign up for soccer is always in the spring for the following fall.
  2. Soccer in Van Buren County is a fall/spring sport. You only need to sign up once in the spring to play the following fall/spring. Call AYSO at 800-872-2976 or visir www.soccer.org for more information.
  3. Parents are encouraged to get involved and to coach soccer. Training is FREE, required, and fun!

Book Link: We Love Soccer by Peggy Harrison.

Beach Party

You don't need much to have fun at the beach, just pack plenty of water to drink and some sunscreen. Try these activities to get moving at the beach:

  1. Build a sandcastle bigger than any one you've ever seen!
  2. Dig a hole and bury your best friend. Make sure his or her head is sticking all the way out.
  3. Play beach volleyball or Frisbee.
  4. Walk or run on the beach.
  5. Hula-hoop on the beach.

Book Link: How Will We Get to the Beach? by Brigitte Liciani

Basketball

If you have a basketball, or any other ball that will reach anbd fit through the hoop you can play basketball for free at the following public parks:

  1. Elkenburg Park (South Haven)
  2. Lawrence Park (Lawrence)
  3. Stanley Johnston Park (South Haven)
  4. Optimist's Tot Lot (South Haven)

Parks close at 10 PM.

Book Link: My Basketball Book by Gail Gibbons.

Bike Riding

Riding a bike is a great wat to build stonr leg muscles. Follow these bike-riding tips:

  1. Always wear a bike helmet.
  2. Wear closed-toe shows such as tennis shoes or sneakers.
  3. Don't put more than one person on a bike built for one.
  4. Ride where in a safe location. Try one of the Van Buren County trails!

Just learning how? Practice with an adult or older sister or brother someplace where the ground isn't bumpy, for example, a church parking lot when church is not in session.

Book Link: Duck on a Bike by David Shannon.

Berry Picking

Picking berries is hard work but the reward (great tasting berries) is worth it! Pick your own berries at these places:

  1. De Grandchamp's Blueberry Farm (South Haven) 637-3915
  2. Stephenson Farms (blueberries) (South Haven) 637-4824
  3. Adams Farms (Hartford) 621-4725
  4. Leduc Blueberries (Paw paw) 657-3871
  5. Westview Farm (sheet cherries) (Mattawan) 668-3603
  6. True Blue Farms (blueberries) (Grand Junction) 434-8844
  7. Schemenauer Farms (all kinds) (Bangor) 427-5853
  8. Mandigo Farms (Paw Paw) 657-4481

Check the Farm Market directory at www.michigan.gov/mda. Always wash berries before you eat them.

Book Link: The Berry Book by Gail Gibbons

Bowling

Bowling builds up your arm and leg muscles and helps to develop coordination.

  • Lakeside Entertainment Center, 09921 Blue Stay Highway, South Haven, 637-6500
  • Lariat Lanes, 60055 M-43, Bangor, 427-8417
  • Pine Grove Lanes, 13157 M-40, Gobles, 628-2161
  • Rainbow Lanes Inc., 28656 Red Arrow Highway, Paw Paw, 657-4870
  1. Many bowling alleys offer prices for kids.
  2. Bumpers, which make bowling easier for children and adults, are available at many bowling alleys.
  3. Many bowling alleys have bowling leagues for kids. Call for information.
  4. Many bowling alleys offer smoke-free family days.

Book Link: I Can Bowl? by Linda Johns

Day Camps

Looking for something fun to do this summer"? Try a day camp where yo will be active and learning. No boredom allowed!

  1. Youth and Company (South Haven) 637-0599
  2. Camp Kidwell (Bloomingdale) 521-3623
  3. Maritime Museum (South Haven) 637-8078
  4. Miracle Camp (Lawton) 624-6161
  5. Camp Shawadasee (Lawton) 624-2631
  6. Sports camps e.g. softball, basketball, etc., call your local school's athletic department.

Book Link: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

Camping

Van Buren County has great places to camp. Stay for the night or simply enjoy a day trip.

  • Covert Township Park (Covert) 764-1421
  • Leisure Valley (Decatur) 423-7122
  • Pioneer Point (Lawton) 624-6342
  • Van Buren State Park (South Haven) 637-2788
  • Camp Kidwell (Bloomingdale) 521-3623
  • Timber Trails (Decatur) 423-7311
  • Oak Shores (Decatur) 423-7370
  1. Go for a hike through the woods to the lake. Take a swim!
  2. Play at the outdoor swings and play structure.
  3. Visit the Van Buren State Park the last week of September and take part in the annual Pumpkin Fest.

Book Link: When I Go Camping with Grandma by Marion Bauer

Dance

Dance is a fun and inspirational way for kids to build up their muscles and coordination. There are several local studios that can have your kids leaping, tapping, shaking and finding the rhythm of the music. It's also never a bad idea to pop some music in and have a family dance party in the living room!

  • The Dance Zone (Paw Paw) 655-1500
  • Alleykat Studio (Bangor) 427-2600
  • Miss Kathy's School of Dance (Decatur) 423-3461

Book Link: My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray

Drama - Become an Actor

Being in a play, singing, and dancing are exercise! Turn off the TV and make up a play of your own or contact one of the organizations below to find out when the next kids' production, program, or class is.

  1. Blue Star Music Camp, 639-7827
  2. Our Town Players, 639-8228
  3. The South Haven Center for the Arts, 637-1041
  4. Paw Paw Village Players, 657-7529
  5. The Lawrence Public Library (see above) puts on summer play productions.

Book Link: Rattlesnake Dance by Jim Arnosky.

Festivals in Van Buren County

Put on a pair of comfortable shows and visit one of the many festivals and events held each year. These festivals often iclude physical activity stations or health booths, for example a climbing wall, soccer kick, fun run, and more.

  1. South Haven Ice Breaker Festival (Dress warmly and check out the cool ice sculptures!) (early February)
  2. Hartford Strawberry Festival (early June)
  3. South Haven Harbor fest (mid to late June)
  4. Van Buren Youth Fair (mid July)
  5. Mattawan Days (early August)
  6. South Haven Blueberry Festival (mid August)
  7. Lawrence Ox Roast (Labor Day weekend)
  8. Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival (weekend after Labor Day. Go grape stomping!)
  9. Bangor Apple Festival (early October)

Visit the county website www.vbco.org for more information.

Book Link: Fiesta! By June Behrens

Fun Adventure Parks

Looking for something fun to do?

  1. Visit Fideland Fun Park, 68099 Co Rd. 388, South Haven, 637-3123
  2. Visit Formula K, 54358 N Main, Mattawan, 668-4070

At adventure parks you can:

  1. Practice batting at the batting cages.
  2. Play 18 holes of miniature golf.
  3. Drive bumper boats or go-karts.

Open May - October

Book Link: Either Animals Play Ball by Susan Middleton Elya

Fishing

Grab a pole and gather up a few worms. Fishing in Van Buren County is free for kids under 16 years old. Every year there is one weekend when fishing is FREE for both kids and adults. Call 637-0771 to find out when. Fishing licenses can be purchased at these locations:

  • Benson's Store (Mattawan) 668-3322
  • Healey True Value Hardware (Gobles) 628-2584
  • Conroy's Bait & Tackle (Grand Junction) 434-6192
  • Adams Hardware (Lawton) 624-3531
  • Landers Hardware (Bangor) 427-7247
  • Wal-Mart (South Haven) 637-7247
  • Warner Supply (Paw Paw) 657-3605
  • Warner Supply (Decatur) 628-6400

Don't go fishing alone. Bring an adult with you. The Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan has many fun activities, call 668-2878 for more information.

Book Link: Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Meyer

4-H Programs

Michigan State University Extension, 4-H and other prgrams are especially good at getting kids active and keeping them moving while doing things they enjoy.

Volunteerism, Writing, Dance, Music, Photography, Hunting, Archery, Animals, Food Preservation, Overnight Camping, Aquaculture, Entomology, Marine Science, Astronomy

Call the Van Buren County MSU Extension Office to find out what's available!

Phone: 269-657-7745; Address: 801 Hazen St, Ste A, Paw Paw, MI 49079

Four Square

All you need is a large rubber ball and a piece of chalk to draw the squares.

How to play Four Square:

  1. Draw a large square about 20' by 20', then draw a large cross in the middle, dividing the large square into four smaller squares.
  2. Each player stands in a square.
  3. The object of the game is to keep the ball in play. The ball must bounce one time in each square before returning it to another square.

Book Link: To Be a Kid by Maya Ajmera and John D Invanko

Fruit and Vegetable Picking

There are several places in and around Van Buren County where you can pick apples, cherries, peaches, and pumpkins for a reasonable price -- and get exercise while doing it! You can also find fresh fruits and veggies at County Farmers' Markets from May to October.

  1. Big Dan's and Klug's Farm Market (Hartford) 621-4037
  2. Cleveland Farms (Bloomingdale) 521-4079
  3. Apple-A-Day Farm (Bangor) 674-7127
  4. Shultz Fruitridge Farms (Mattawan) 68-3724
  5. Gene the Pumpkin Man (Kalamazoo) 668-2952
  6. Barner Farms (South Haven) 637-1895

Check the Farm Market Directory at www.michigan.gov/mda and always wash the outside of fresh fruit before you eat it.

Book Link: Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell

Gardening

If you have dirt in your yard and a few seeds you can have a garden. Gardening is good exercise. You bend and stretch a lot when you are planting, watering, and weeding a garden. Gardening tips:

  1. Buy seeds or plants that are right for the kind of sun and dirt you have. Read the package to find out what will grow best in your yard.
  2. You don't need a lot of fancy tools to garden with, something to dig with and something to hold water should be all you need.
  3. Water your garden every day.

You can buy plant and flower sees at a local hardware store, nursery or greenhouse, or many othe rlocations throughout the county.

Book Link: The Surprise Garden by Zoe Hall

Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run is a non-profit prevention program that encourages preteen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. The program addresses all aspects of girls' development -- their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. Girls participate in a 12-week, 24 lession curricula that culminates in a 5K celebration run! Contact your sachool and ask if they have a Girls on the Run program. Check out the web site at http://www.girlsontherun.org.

Golf/Mini Golf

Golf and mini-golf are fun to play and playing helps you developer hand-eye coordination. Here are some places you can play:

Miniature Golf:

  • Lakeside Entertainment Center: 637-4354
  • Fideland Fun Park: 637-3123
  • Formula K: 668-4070

Golf:

  • The South Haven Golf Course (South Haven) 637-3896
  • Glenn Shores (South Haven) 227-3226
  • Lawton Golf Club (Lawton) 624-2051
  • Lake Cora (Paw Paw) 657-4074
  • Shamrock Hills (Gobles) 628-2070
  • Peacock Ridge (Marcellus) 646-3300
  • Heritage Glen (Paw Paw) 657-2552
  • Hawkshead Links (South Haven) 639-2121

Book Link: Count on Golf by Susan Greene

Harbor Walk

Stroll and learn about the lumberyards, shipping, and local history of South Haven by reading the historical plaques posted along the way.

  1. Start at either the North or South Pier.
  2. Follow the signs by walking the length of the pier, through town, over the Dyckman Bridge and to the next pier.
  3. If it's summer, take a break and go for a swim once you get there.

Never walk on the pier when the waves are splashing over it. It's dangerous.

Book Link: Bear About Town by Stella Blackstone

Horseback Riding

Do you love horses? Most kids do. Find out what it's like to ride on a horse at a local ranch.

  1. Tippecanoe Ranch, 01438 CR 687 (South Haven) 637-4434
  2. Simpsarosa Stables, 181 55th St. (Grand Junction) 434-6563
  3. Apple Ridge Farms, 38419 CR 215 (Bangor) 674-4222
  4. Oakwood Stables, 22969 McGilleb (Mattawan) 668-3452
  • Enjoy scenic guided trails.
  • Young children can enjoy pony rides.
  • Open year around.
  • Many riding stables require reservations.

Book Link: Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner

Hula Hoops

Hula-hooping is a great way to get your body moving, and it's fun! So, haul out the hula-hoops and...

  1. Have a hula-hooping contest.
  2. Try hua-hoopiung with the hoop around your neck, arms, or feet.
  3. Try jump roping with a hula-hoop.

You can buy hula-hoops at the local dollar stores or other locations throughout the county. You can find them in the outdoor toy section.

Book Link: Come Out and Play by Maya Ajmera & John D. Invanko

Jump Rope

Jumping rope is a great way to strengthen your body and your mind at the same time while you learn and recite jump rope rhymes. Try jumping rope...

  1. Backwards 1 foot at a time or with your feet together.
  2. With your eyes closed (be careful).
  3. Crossover style: Just before you jump, cross your arms and jumped through the smaller loop.
  4. Together with your best friend.

Book link: Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes by Joanna Cole

Martial arts

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, Kim Possible... many children's Saturday morning heroes use martial arts techniques while saving the world from the super villains. Practicing martial arts helps kids to build confidence, coordination, and mental focus. Further, most areas are firmly rooted in the beliefs on nonviolence and respect for others!

  • Attitudes Fitness (South Haven) 269-637-1160
  • Chung's Tiger Tae Kwon Do (Matawan) 269-668-6886
  • Knights Martial Arts (South Haven) 269-637-4980

Book Link: Jo Jo's Flying Sidekick by B. Brian Pinkney

Museums

Take some time to discover the roots of your hometown. Afterwards, walk around and talk about what has changed from the photos you saw, and what has stayed the same.

  • Bloomingdale Museum (Bloomingdale) 521-7880
  • Covert Historical Museum (Covert) 764-1902
  • Van Buren County Historical Society Inc. (Hartford) 621-2188
  • Michigan Maritime Museum (South Haven) 637-8078
  • Van Buren County Time Capsule Museum (Paw Paw) 655-8307
  • Wolf Lake Visitor Center and Tours (Mattawan) 668-2876

Book Link: Explore Michigan A to Z by David and Stella M. McConnell

Nature Walk (Fall)

In the fall, bundle up and take a nature walk with your family around the neighborhood. Collect fallen leaves, acorns, and pine cones and other items.

Make a birdfeeder by following these directions: Cover a large pinecone end-to-end with peanut butter. Roll in birdseed. Tie a string on the end to hang from a tree on your porch.

Try these locations:

  • Kal-Haven Trail or Hartford Trail
  • Fred Russ Forest Park (West of Volinia on the Marcellus Highway)
  • Algird Barvicks Dunes Nature Sanctuary 810-324-2626
  • Keeler State Game Area 244-5928
  • Van Buren State Park

Book Link: Take a Tree Walk by Jane Kirkland

Organized Sports

There are lots of different organized sports you can play in Van Buren County, but what is offered one year might not be offered the next. Call your local school's Athletic Director's office (check your phone book) for more information on the following sports: softball, baseball, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, football, swimming, wrestling, soccer, and more!

Book Link: Game Time! By Stuart J. Murphy

Play Structures

Van Buren County parks have great play structures for young children under 10 years old. Visit these parks:

  • Kids Corner (South Beach, South Haven)
  • Optimist's Tot Lot (South Haven)
  • Packard Park (North Beach, South Haven)
  • Kids P.A.L.A.C.E. (Lawrence)
  • Kids Dream (Lawton)
  • Maple Island (Maple Lake, Paw Paw)
  • Bangor
  • Raider Romp (Decatur)

Pack water and a healthy snack, take a break, and curl up with a good book when you go to the park. Parents should read to their kids everyday.

Book link: Oh the things you can do that are good for you! By Trish Rabe

Sidewalk Chalk

Let the inner artist inside you shine, and have fun outside while doing it. Grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk, on a safe place to draw, and...

  • invite a friend over and take turns tracing around each other's bodies
  • draw hopscotch and play hopscotch
  • draw a number line and see how high you can count. Practice hopping to every other number.

You can buy sidewalk chalk at local stores for $1-$3 per bucket.

Book Link: Eggbert the Slightly Cracked Egg by Tom Ross

Skate Park

Tony Hawk watch out! Sharpen your skateboarding or rollerblading skills at a local skate park. It's free! Always wear a helmet and safety pads! There is no adult supervision.

South Haven State Park

  • located on south beach next to Sherman's ice cream parlor
  • the park is open at sunrise and closes at 10 PM
  • if you have questions or concerns, call 637-0771

Mattawan Skate Park

  • located in the elementary school, call 668-3361 for more information
  • the park opens at 3:45 PM during the school year and is open from sunrise to sunset during the summer.

Decatur is opening a skate park within Southside Park in August 2006.

Book Link: Wait, Skates! By Mildred D. Johnson

Skating

Skating is great exercise. Skating strengthens your whole body, especially your legs and heart.

  • Lawson Ice Arena 387-3050
  • Millennium Park Ice Skating Rink (Portage) 324-9282
  • Roller World (Kalamazoo) 375-4609
  • South Haven Ice Skating Rink (South Haven) 637-0771

Rollerblading is also great exercise. Try skating through town on sidewalks or skate one of the country trails.

Book Link: Slip! Slip! Skate! By Gail Herman

Skiing

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Timber Ridge, 7500 23 1/2 St. (Gobles) 269-694-9449
  • bittersweet, 600 River Road (Otsego) 269-694-2820

Cross-Country
The trails at Van Buren State Park and on the Kal-Haven Trail are quite beautiful and great for cross-country skiing.

  1. Make sure you dress warmly and wear a hat.
  2. Bring with you a healthy snack and some water to drink.
  3. Go with someone who knows the trails.

Book Link: Elympics by X.J. Kennedy

Sledding

Sledding is fun and your heart and legs get stronger when you pull your sled up the hill. Places to sled include:

  • Coast Guard Hill. Located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and St. Joseph (South Haven)
  • Behind Central School (South Haven).
  • Lake Cora Golf Course (Paw Paw).

Sledding can be dangerous. Dress warmly and watch out for other sledders. Older sleds made of wood and metal can be very dangerous. Don't use this kind of sled on the sledding hills.

Book Link: Perfect Day For It by Jan Fearnley

Snow Fun

Even if you don't ski or snowboard, there are lots of fun things you can do outside in the snow for fun -- right in your own backyard!

  • Make a snow fort. Climb inside and sip hot chocolate.
  • Make a snow angel family.
  • Have a snowball fight. Make sure everyone agrees to be in the fights before you begin.

Book Link: Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Swimming

Enjoy Van Buren Counties inland lakes:

  • Lake 11
  • Lake 14
  • Saddle Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Reynolds Lake
  • Brandywine Lake
  • Redwoolfe Park
  • Three Legged Lake
  • Fish Lake
  • School Section link
  • Van Auken Lake
  • Rush Lake
  • Round Lake
  • Christie Lake
  • Eagle Lake
  • Lake Cora
  • Hall Lake
  • Cedar Lake
  • Huzzys Lake
  • Scott Lake

Enjoy Lake Michigan in South Haven and Covert

Enjoy indoor swimming:

  • Holland Aquatic Center (Holland) 269-393-7595. Ask about family fun day.
  • Covert Community Schools. Call 269-764-7545. Ask Barbara Locke shire or schedule and events. Cost is one dollar per person.

Always swim with adult supervision. Never swim alone.

Book Link: Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London

Tennis

Tennis is fun and your heart and legs get stronger when you play. If you are just beginning your tennis career or you already have it started, there is a spot for you.

  1. In South Haven, call 637-0518 for more information
  2. Lawton and Lawrence have tennis courts behind the play structures
  3. Firefighter Park in Decatur has open tennis courts
  4. Gobles has public tennis courts in their park
  5. Many schools open tennis courts to the public when not in use by the school teams

Book Link: Cam Jansen and the Tennis Trophy Mystery by David A. Adler

Van Buren County Trails

The Kal-Haven and Hartford trails are two of the most beautiful trails in the state.

  • Kal Haven Trail

From Moose Lodge in South Haven, it is 33 miles on going to Kalamazoo!
There are bathrooms along the trail.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail.

  • Hartford Trail

14 miles long, from Hartford to Southaven

Passes for Van Buren Trails can be purchased at vendor locations, at a County Road Commission in Lawrence, and on the trail. 2006 Prices Daily: Individual $3, Family $7
Annual: Individual $15, Family $35

Book Link: Rabbit Food by Susanna Gretz

Helpful Web Sites

www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/kids/default.htm

www.fooddomain.msu.edu

www.guysread.com

www.pbskids.org

www.usda.gov/news/usdakids/index.html

www.verbnow.com

These materials were funded by the USDA's Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-481-4989. In accordance with federal law and USDA policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write the USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250 or call 202-720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.