Monday, July 28, 2014

My Experience at Summer Camp

I went to summer camp once when I was about 10 or 12 years old. There are things I can vividly remember like barely being able to tread water long enough to be allowed to swim, having mosquitoes attack me when we slept under the stars one night, and encouraging a cabin mate to surrender her life to the Lord's leading. I went to summer camp for the second time in my life this past week.

King's Camp takes place each July at a campground near Butler, PA. This year there were 87 children, the most ever. The theme was "Stand Firm: Plant Your Feet on the Solid Rock."

Each day began with morning exercises. After breakfast, each cabin was responsible for cleaning up their area so that Princess White Glove could inspect it before lunch. The cleanest cabin had the privilege of housing Leo or Lucy (stuffed lions) for the day. After cleanup, we all enjoyed morning chapel and Bible time where we heard various Bible stories that related to the theme. We learned our daily verse and then had a chance to recite our memorized verse to earn points for our teams and a jewel in our crown. Yes, we each wore a crown all week long—proudly, I might add. After lunch, each cabin had a time of connection where they could reflect on the message given by the missionary the previous evening. At 2:45 each day, we had snack time. During this time, we could all (staff and campers) recite more verses we had learned. The daily activity took place after snack time, and the kids chose two of the following: fishing, archery, crafts, ropes/obstacle course, and water sports. After the kids were given some free time, they lined up for supper at 5:30. The missionaries for the week, Brad and Tricia, talked each night about what it is like to be a missionary, what missionaries need, and the importance of missionaries in this world. Surprise time each night brought a sense of anticipation for the special activity that each team would participate in. There was singing, candy hunting, throwing water balloons, etc. Once the campers ate their snacks, it was time for lights out. Then it would start all over the next day.

There were four specific things I pulled out from my week at camp that I will remember:

Faith: It was wonderful to be steeped in God's Word from sunup to sundown. Staff had devotions each morning before the campers awoke, and we were able to memorize verses along with the campers. I was surprised by how many verses I was able to memorize—27—since it's been quite a while since I've memorized anything. Our theme passage was Ephesians 6:10-19, which speaks of the armor of God. Our chapel time each morning discussed the history and purpose behind each piece of armor. Of course, I loved this part because I enjoy learning about history. It also helped us to understand why Paul chose each piece of armor he discussed and how it protects us. Bible time with Princess Julia encouraged us throughout the week to be strong, brave, loving, faithful, and watchful. We learned about biblical figures like Job and Gideon. The missionary at King's Camp this year, Brad Henderson, serves in Tanzania and is currently on furlough until January 2015. He was engaging and passionate about sharing his faith. Many children and staff were moved to consider serving as missionaries in the future and learned about the practical first steps to doing so. There were five children who gave their hearts to Christ during the week. Being able to see my own son lead a child to Christ about moved me to tears.

Friends: Not only did the campers make new friends, but the staff did as well. I came in as a newbie; it was my first year on staff. There were many times I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. We stayed up late playing games and talking. The younger staff also had one night during the week when they were able to stay up late and hang out. How about those ultimate spoons, guys? Friends were available to help through the hard times during the week. They encouraged us to make good decisions. These new friends were eager to learn as much as they could about us. Though I had just met most of the people I worked with this past week, they are most definitely family, and I can't wait to see them again.

Food: There were nearly 140 people, and there was no shortage of good food here. We had french toast, oatmeal, pancakes, cereal, fruit, juice, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast (not all on the same day). Lunch consisted of sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, veggies, and dessert. Supper was spaghetti, Thanksgiving dinner, ham, hot dogs, chicken, veggies, and dessert. The desserts were delicious—Texas sheet cake, blueberry/chocolate chip muffins, Jell-O, corn flake cookies, homemade kettle corn, and ice cream. There were snacks in the afternoon and snacks at night. I still can't believe that I was able to lose some weight despite the amount of food I ate.

Fun: There was no shortage of fun either. Kids were always laughing and running around. They enjoyed their daily activities and had stories to share each day about how fast they ran the ropes course or how many fish they caught. Of course, surprise time in the evenings was a favorite event. Sunday night was the great candy hunt. There were also singing competitions, a scavenger hunt, quizzing, and relays. All of the surprise time events, Scripture memorization, cabin cleanup, and missionary offering gave the campers a chance to earn points for their team. This year was Beryl's turn to win, despite the best efforts of other teams to bypass them.

It was a full week. So many exciting and inspiring things happened throughout the week that it would be impossible to relate them all. The one thing that impressed me most was the Scripture memorization. I want to continue that now that I am home. I want to write down all of the passages I did memorize and remind myself of each of them from time to time. I want to learn the ones I did not get around to memorizing. After that, I want to find new verses. I want to hide God's Word in my heart. I want to keep it close and never forget what God has said to me through His Word.

Here are some of the verses/passages we learned in case you are interested in memorizing them yourself: 

Ephesians 6:10-19
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Psalm 7:10
2 Corinthians 5:17
Isaiah 41:10
2 Timothy 2:22-23
Ecclesiastes 5:2-3
Romans 10:8-10
James 4:7-10
Habakkuk 2:2-4
Psalm 98:1-4
Romans 10:14-18

I can't wait to go back to camp next year!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today's Words

I'm in desperate need of a break from posts that require a lot of research on my part. So, today (and maybe for a few weeks), I will be giving you a word from the dictionary and a word from the Word—the Bible—along with a few of my own to discuss the words I have chosen.

As I look through the dictionary, I am amazed by how many entries are animals and plants. Some of the ones I've run across tonight are:

bandicoot - large rat from southern Asia
capybara - South and Central American rodent
Devon rex - large-eared cat with a short wavy or curly coat
fossa - carnivorous mammal found in Madagascar
tamandua - kind of anteater
tamarin - type of monkey

aster - herb
baneberry - herb of the buttercup family with poisonous berries
breadfruit - fruit that resembles bread in color and texture when baked
devil's claw - herb found in U.S. and Mexico that has pods which can be used to make baskets
episcia - tropical American herb related to the African violet
tamarack - larch found in America
tamarillo - South American fruit or the shrub that grows the fruit
tamarind - tropical tree of the legume family

God's Word (NIV):

Genesis 1:20-25:

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it,according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Matthew 6:25-34:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

My Thoughts:

As I notice the wide variety of creatures and plants that God created, I am amazed by the vastness of his imagination. Animals and plants exist throughout the entire earth—on land, in the ocean, and in the air. Though God took great care to make the animals, he took even more care when he created mankind. He made man and said, "It is very good." He gave man the directives of naming the animals and ruling over them.

We see, though, in Matthew 6 that God still takes care of his creatures. He feeds the birds, and he clothes the grass of the field. He pours beauty upon His creation. However, man still holds a special place in His heart. He encourages us not to worry about anything we need because He loves us—his very good creation. We are to seek Him first. When we are faced with a situation that causes us to worry, we should go to Him first. He will give us His strength and His peace.

It is difficult to not worry. Trust me, I know. When we can't fix our situation and when we can't see the other end, we worry about how it will turn out, but that takes our focus off of God. Do we doubt that He knows what is going on? Do we doubt that He really does have what is best for us in mind? When we focus on Him, we begin to understand that He is always with us. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

If he allows the flowers to be beautiful, if he allows the animals to find food and survive, won't he take care of you no matter what you are going through? You are the one He created to have relationship with. You are the one He died to save.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Build Your Own Bundle Sale is Coming!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!
The BIGGEST digital homeschooling curriculum sale EVER is coming! Mark your calendars!

Save up to 92% on popular homeschooling curriculum!
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Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

What is the "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition Sale?

The "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition is designed to contain the best educational digital products on the internet! Sprinkled throughout the bundles are well known publishers, including products on Cathy Duffy's Top 100 list!

Unlike overwhelming bundle sales with nearly a hundred ebooks, the "Build Your Bundle" - Homeschool Edition is a brand new concept that will allow homeschoolers to pick and choose what they want to purchase ~ all at a MASSIVE discount of up to 90% off!

Take a Sneek Peek at Our Bundles:

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks! Tots & Preschoolers Bundle

Teach your littlest ones about God's amazing creation and the value of virtue using our Tot & Preschool Bundle!

This bundle gives you a complete Christ-centered preschool program, including age-appropriate character-building tools, a stick-figure Bible study, a creation-based coloring book, a handwriting curriculum, an independent activity guide (for those times when you need a moment to focus), and much more!

Kindergarten - 3rd Grade Bundle

Teach your K-3 children basic skills and core truths through easily understandable lessons and hands-on activities. Our K-3 Bundle includes reading, math, science, handwriting, character training and Bible resources.

Your children will experience life in 17th century America as they learn about the settlers and our 13 original colonies. You will have everything you need to savor these first days of discovery!
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Your 4th-6th graders will develop foundational skills and gain insight into the ancient world using the comprehensive collection of resources found in our 4th-6th Grade Bundle.

This bundle features both a science curriculum and a creative writing course from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks. You will get a popular curriculum that has a blend of history, geography, and art. Also included: Math, Bible, handwriting and copywork resources, writing guides, timeline cards, ancient history notebooking pages, creative writing for both boys and girls, and an editable weekly homeschool planner for Mom!

Middle School Bundle

Your middle school students will tour the classical world and develop academic excellence using our Middle School Bundle.

This bundle features a full language arts curriculum and two science curricula, one from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks, as well as a complete geography and history curriculum, a popular history timeline/book of centuries, Renaissance and Reformation notebooking pages, a classical music curriculum and famous composers notebooking pages, and a creative writing collection that even “non-writers” will love!
Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

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Your high school students will develop academic mastery and intellectual maturity using our High School Bundle.

This bundle features a New Testament Bible curriculum, an introduction to psychology, a full year of math curriculum, resources for world history and geography, philosophy, home economics, college prep, grammar, a creative writing collection that even "non-writers" will love, an anatomy science unit study from Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks, and more! You will receive enough materials for a full year of high school!

Charlotte Mason Bundle

Amazing things await you in our Charlotte Mason Bundle!

This bundle features a complete curriculum using the Charlotte Mason Methods for language arts, handwriting, and reading, a full geography curriculum, a plethora of resources for studying nature, artists, poetry, and a variety of "extras" just for mom!

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Save money, strengthen your marriage, and streamline your schedule using our Mom Bundle. Find the encouragement you need and the insight to speak to your child’s heart (even that difficult child!). Whip your home into shape and train your children to do their chores effectively using a popular book "chores program".

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"Build Your Own" Bundles

Our "Build Your Own" bundles offer you the opportunity to select a certain number of products with a retail price of $19.99 or less for up to 80% off! We have MANY items to choose from, including Cathy Duffy Top 100 Picks!

When you purchase a combination of any 2 "Build Your Own" bundles, you will get the 3rd one at 50% off!

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale: July 21-28 Save up to 92% on Popular Homeschooling Curriculum, Many from Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks!

*Lots of ways to save!

  1. When you purchase ANY 2 pre-assembled bundles you will get the 3rd pre-assembled bundle of equal or lesser value for 50% off!
  2. When you purchase ANY 2 "build your own" bundles you will get the 3rd "build your own" bundle of equal or lesser value for 50% off!
  3. When the sale goes live on July 21st, tell your friends about it using our referral system that will be found on the top of the website! When 10 of your referrals visit our site using your unique link, we will give you a code to save 10% off your total purchase!

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Now, if you are like me, you might forget about the sale when it gets here! We are prepared to send you a reminder email. Click here and enter your email in the "Remind Me" box and you will get an email the day the sale goes live!

Pre-Sale Promotional Giveaway - Enter to win $100 towards the purchase of ANY of our individual or "build your own" bundles! Winner annouced the day the sale starts!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

#2 Grand Canyon National Park

With a depth of one mile and a width of 10 miles, Grand Canyon National Park is considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. Located in Arizona, more than 5 million people tour this awe-inspiring park each year. It was granted national park status in 1919.

There is a fee for entering the park—$25 per vehicle and $12 for those on foot, bicycle, or motorcycle—and is good for seven days. There are lodges located within the park that provide a beautiful view of the canyon, and there are hotels available on the road that leads to the park. If you are planning a visit and want to stay in one of the lodges, reserve your room at least a year in advance as they fill up quickly. Another option for visiting the park is to take the Grand Canyon Railway out of Williams, Arizona.

We visited the Grand Canyon in May 2010. It was quite windy and cold in the evenings. We weren't expecting this and had to buy sweatshirts and windbreakers in the gift shop. That twenty-dollar sweatshirt was one of the most comfortable I've ever worn; I still own it and wear it when and if it ever gets cold enough in Florida to need it.

There are two specific destinations within the park from which tours begin, museums and restaurants are located, and trails descend—the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim is open to visitors all year long who can participate in ranger programs, visit museums and bookstores, watch a video about the Grand Canyon, take an audio tour using your phone and points of interest along a driving trail, walk the Rim Trail, backpack down into the canyon, go whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, take a mule trip, rent a bike, ride the lodge tour shuttle which stops at various points of interest with breathtaking views and information boards. View this map of the South Rim.

One of the signs we encountered said, "What goes down, must come up." Big deal, you say? Even a short hike down into the canyon turned into quite the cardiovascular workout for us as we made our way back to the top. The trails are well marked, though a bit treacherous at times. They are definitely not jogging trails.

The North Rim operates on a somewhat different schedule: mid-May through mid-October. Ranger programs are available here as well, as are a visitors' center, day hikes, mule trips, and scenic drives. View this map of the North Rim.

On the west side of the park, actually outside of the park, is the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This is a sky bridge created by the Hualapai Tribe. It is a cantilever that juts out from the rim, 4000 feet above the Grand Canyon floor. Watch this video about the Skywalk. (Consider viewing in full screen to avoid any potentially offensive ads in the margins.) A permit and a ticket must be purchased. There is also the need for a $15 bus ride to take visitors from the parking lot to the Skywalk. Be sure to check all information and requirements before visiting.

CREATION VIEWPOINT: The Grand Canyon, according to the National Park Service and most, if not all, evolutionists, was formed over billions of years. However, creationists believe there is irrefutable proof found in the walls of the canyons—layering, fossils, rocks—that it was created by a great flood, the flood we see in Genesis.

If you are interested in learning more about the Grand Canyon from a creationist view, consider purchasing Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a canyon river guide. This book is for sale through Answers in Genesis.

It is said that the Grand Canyon contains five of the seven life zones and three of the four desert types in North America. Because of this, there is great diversity in the species of plant and animal that live there. There are more than 1500 plants species, 89 mammal species, 355 bird species, 47 reptile species, 9 amphibian species, and 17 fish species. Visit the Animals of the Grand Canyon page to read about those present. Be sure to choose from a variety of species listed on the left, including crustaceans, insects, mammals, birds, and mollusks, as well as plants. Learn about the wildlife safety standards that are in place in the park.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Veritas Press Self-Paced Omnibus I Review

Veritas Press Review

For years, I have been receiving Veritas Press catalogs in the mail but have never purchased anything from them. I always look through the catalogs, wishing I could afford some of the programs that appeared to be very well constructed and educational. I had the opportunity, as a part of the Schoolhouse Crew, to finally try one of their programs: Self-Paced Omnibus I. This is an online video program that also has a book (or ebook) available. In the catalog, Omnibus I is listed in the seventh grade section. It can be used for children older than seventh grade, however, so the recommended age range is 12 and up.

Veritas Press Review
Each video session contains numerous engaging activities. As each part of the session ends, the video screen "slides" to the next activity. In the upper right corner, the progression can be viewed so that the student knows exactly where he/she is in the lesson. Also, each segment has a bar across the bottom of the screen that displays the time left in each particular video.

There are usually between 10 and 15 different segments per session, including lectures, debates, on-the-street interviews, quizzes, and games. The course begins at Genesis and discusses other books of the Bible, including Exodus, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, Luke, and Acts throughout. Ancient texts include Gilgamesh, the Code of Hammurabi, Odyssey, Oresteia, the Theban Triology, Aeneid, and Julius Caesar. Not only is history taught in this course, but literature and theology are taught as well.

The self-paced program is $295.00 for the full year; siblings receive a discount of $100 off the price. All of the reading materials required for the program can be purchased through Veritas Press for $151.32. Those who choose to follow the live program will pay $595. The textbook is a 605-page hardcover book that takes the student through the course and provides questions for discussion.

The way Omnibus I works, students cannot move forward until everything in the video session is heard, games played, and quizzes taken. They can review everything once they are finished but cannot skip ahead. Quiz reports can be printed out. Some quizzes ask questions about material heard in the lectures, while others simply deal with what is in the assigned reading. Most of the information in the assigned reading is not discussed in the videos.

(The two images below are from the book.)

Veritas Press Review                                     Veritas Press Review

OPINION: I am torn in my opinion about this program. While there is a lot of knowledge shared, I had to listen to everything very closely to be sure what was shared was sound theology. During the session on Genesis, there was a discussion about Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel. In one scene in the painting, God is surrounded by cherubim, and under his arm, there is a woman. Two different views of who the woman could be—Mary or Eve—were shared. After sharing these views, the speaker, Bruce Etter, shared his own view, that this woman is wisdom—Sophia. When my husband heard this, it raised all sorts of red flags (goddess Sophia), and he didn't want my daughter to listen to any more. From that point on, she didn't believe anything that was said. This opened up a deep discussion about Gnostics and testing everything someone says against Scripture.

We talked about the fact that Mr. Etter never mentioned "goddess" Sophia but explained that the term is Greek for wisdom. I also told her that she needs to learn how to test what anyone says, even Mom and Dad, against Scripture to see if what they are saying is true. She continued with the program, but she had put up a wall and found it hard to believe the rest of what he had to say.

As we continued on, it seemed to me that the topics that were discussed could potentially confuse students. Various theories are discussed; some of these theories I've never even heard of. I was concerned that my daughter would believe some of these theories. They are presented in a way that they sound plausible. Not until the end of the discussion are they contradicted. While it is important to understand other beliefs that are out there, I'm not sure this format is the best way to do that. I'm not sure middle schoolers are capable of differentiating between good theories and bad theories. Much discussion is required to be sure they understand the truth.

I would have liked to have seen more history when discussing Genesis and Exodus and a little less philosophy, a little less "this is what non-Christians think." If I purchase a program that it supposed to teach my child about the Bible and Christian theology, I don't expect to hear about what everyone else thinks. The conversation about predestination and free will was completely over my daughter's head. It is an ages-old debate, and I feel that too much time was spent on it. There was little discussion about the events in Exodus and even less, I feel, on the majesty of God.

During the discussion about the Ten Commandments, I did appreciate how Mr. Etter presented the information. He explained the spirit of the Ten Commandments, how it is not just obeying the letter of the law but obeying it in spirit. For example, the seventh commandment says to not commit adultery. Obviously middle schoolers are not in danger of committing that sin. However, do they obey the spirit of the law? Do they keep themselves pure? Do they pray for their future spouse? I REALLY like the way he presented this information.

As far as the video sessions, I was bored with the on-the-street interviews. I felt they were too long. One of the activities in Genesis had me a bit confused. We were supposed to watch how certain items morphed into something beautiful. I thought we were going to watch a caterpillar become a moth. Instead, we watched pictures of slugs, tornadoes, rotten oranges, and creepy spiders being used to make a photo montage. Not only was it not what we thought it would be, it lasted too long. Also, some of the debates we watched were almost 30 minutes long.

I looked through most of the ebook, though we didn't use it except for some reading at the very beginning of the course. It is put together well and filled with many illustrations. I tend to be on the conservative side of things, so I probably would not feel comfortable using this book. There are many, many paintings, drawings, and pictures of statues that include partially naked men and women. I understand that these pieces of art are classical pieces and many people do not find them offensive, but if I am raising my children to be modest and to not obsess over the human figure as simply an object, then I'm not going to let them look at pictures of naked people even though it is consider to be classical art.

I am glad that I had the chance to review this product. It allowed for some good discussions with my daughter I might not have had otherwise. I was also able to see that not everything that looks like it would work for our family will and that I don't have to be disappointed if I can't afford a more expensive program.

I know that there are people who love this program. Be sure to read some other reviews to see how this worked or not with other families. Just because it didn't work for us, doesn't mean it won't work for you.

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#1 Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The first national park we will explore is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is located within the states of North Carolina and Tennessee at the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains and sees more visitors every year than any other national park—9 million.


This region was originally inhabited by the Cherokee people, but they were forced west in the 1830s. This event is known as "The Trail of Tears."

Those European settlers who lived in the area in the late 1800s and early 1900s lived off the land. They built their houses from the trees in the region and hunted for and planted their own food.

When the logging industry came to the area in the early 1900s, it didn't take long before those living there were heavily reliant on things that were manufactured and food bought in grocery stores instead of being self-sufficient. The industry, also, was decimating the forests. In 1934, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established to preserve the remaining woodlands from destruction. Those living here were forced to move. (Does anybody else notice the irony?)

More than 70 structures that were left behind when the inhabitants were evicted have been preserved. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has the largest collection of historic log buildings in the eastern part of the country.

Some of the folks responsible for championing the cause of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park were David Chapman, Ann Davis, Paul Fink, Horace Kephart, George Masa, Ben Morton, Mark Squires, Jim Thompson, and Charles A. Webb.

View some historical photos here.
Learn more about the people responsible here.


The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers 800 square miles. There have been more than 17,000 documented species, including 66 kinds of mammals, 67 fish species, 39 reptiles, 43 amphibians, 200 types of birds, and 100 native species of trees. One species of mammal present in the park is the American Black Bear. This is actually the symbol of the Smoky Mountains. This area is also home to white-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, bats, deer mice, otters, wolves, shrew, and more.

If you want to find out more about the specific animals and plants that live in this park, visit the National Park animal page.


If you are able to visit the park, there are numerous programs available. However, if a visit is not in the near future, consider participating in one of the distance learning programs. These include learning about current research projects and electronic field trips.

Park visitors can participate in the Junior Ranger program, if they are between the ages of 5 and 12. Booklets can be purchased in person and online. Kids can complete the activities in the book to earn a badge.

Other activities that the whole family can enjoy include touring the park in your car. The visitors' center has inexpensive booklets that help to guide the way, as well as numbered posts and landmarks along the way. You can also purchase them online before your trip. Bicycling is a wonderful activity in the park. There are many trails and roadways that allow for a view of the landscape and historical structures that are present throughout the park. There is a road within the park, Cades Cove Loop Road, that is closed to vehicular traffic on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 a.m. so that bicycles need to be concerned with cars. There are no trails specific to mountain biking here, however.

If you're looking to spend some time in the park, camping is an option. If your idea of camping is hiking to a remote location and sleeping under the stars and using the nearest tree as the necessary, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some rules and regulations. Permits are also required. They want to know you are out there, but they don't want to know you've been there. In other words, they want you to leave the park in better shape than what you found it. The same goes for those who choose to pitch a tent or drive their RV to the front country where there are electric hookups and bathrooms with showers available. There are 10 separate campgrounds located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. View a map to see where they are located in relation to other points of interest within the park. Each campground has a different number of sites, a slightly different elevation, a different season length, and different restrictions on RV length.

Consider fishing, hiking, picnicking, and watching the wildlife. From mid-March through late November, horseback riding is available at four different locations within the park. The guided trail rides last 45 minutes to a few hours and start at a rate of $30 per hour. You can even bring your own horse. Hayrides and wagon rides are available as well.

Besides the beautiful panoramas that are offered throughout the park, visitors can trek inside to view one of the many waterfalls. The park receives an average rainfall of 85 inches per year. That means that this rain flows down the mountainside and fills the rivers and streams, creating an abundant flow of water to spill over the falls. There are a couple of waterfalls that can be reached by car.

The park offers various workshops and classes for grade-school kids through adults. Some of the programs have a fee associated with them. Call the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont at 865-448-6709 or the Smoky Mountain Field School at 865-974-0150 to find out what classes are being offered and how much they cost.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The number of activities and beautiful scenery make this a wonderful vacation spot for a weekend, a week, or just a get away for the day.

If there is something else you'd like to see in these national park posts, please let me know. If you have pictures you'd be willing to share, please also let me know that. I haven't been to too many of the parks to share my own photos.


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