Fun at the Ithaca Children’s Garden

Fun at the Ithaca Children’s Garden?

Ithaca Children’s Garden, Sciencecenter, Paddle-N-More, Discover Cayuga and TCAT are coming together to offer families four weeks of free family programming in a project they call Explore the Waterfront.?

Families can begin exploring starting July 22 and can register for the four day a week event on the Ithaca Children’s Garden website. Every Wednesday through Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to noon families will embark on scavenger hunts, paddling tours and other hands on, socially-distanced activities, says the group. The project is made possible, in part, by GreenStar Food Co-Op.?

Ithaca Children’s Garden will kick things off with programming each Wednesday, ranging from construction of bug hotels and growing a grass turtle pet to quests and scavenger hunts. Erin Marteal, executive director for the Ithaca’s Children Garden, said families can expect to feel safe at the garden, in light of the ongoing pandemic, because of the abundance of space available on site. Space will be limited at other activities, so she emphasized that families should plan accordingly and consider their child’s ability to actively participate.

Thursdays will belong to Discover Cayuga Lake. Each morning families will be taken on a cruise across the lake and learn about the history of Cayuga Lake and the Cayuga Watershed, as well as doing some “hands on explorations.”

On Fridays, families can opt to learn more about the lake from a lower vantage point as they paddle during a two-hour Stewart Park Kayak Exploration with Paddle-N-More. There will be a quick-start lesson in kayaking and an exploration of the waterways of Ithaca. All ages are welcome to participate with a caregiver present.?

And on Saturdays the Sciencenter will be offering hands-on study along Cascadilla Creek where participants will explore stream life, meet snakes from the Sciencenter’s collection and engineer rockets from household materials.?

“Ever since starting my role with Ithaca Children’s Garden in 2011, I’ve been dreaming about teaming up on a cultural waterfront trail with the other wonderful waterfront institutions,” said Marteal. “It feels great to finally kick that off—a silver lining in this weird time.”

The Explore the Waterfront partners said they hope to expand the operation of the project to bring awareness to the waterfront as a meaningful resource for local residents, not just a tourist destination or a beautiful hangout spot—although it is a very beautiful hangout spot. All of the partners said they are committed to creating accessibility and the key component was the addition of a modified TCAT route that will allow residents to get to each of the appropriate waterfront locations at the appropriate times.?

The TCAT rides will be free, as are all of their rides until Sept. 5. Specific Route 22 information is available on the TCAT’s website.

With enough interest and additional financial support, Explore the Waterfront, hopes to keep the project going until the end of summer. Currently, the group is looking for more donors to help fund their project.?

“Many families have been struggling, not only with unmet childcare needs and lost jobs in some cases,? but also a lack of safe activities to provide some structure and normalcy to the week,” Marteal said.?

Each activity requires pre-registration based on the individual organization’s limited capacity, so groups should plan accordingly and well in advance. Stewart Park Kayak Exporation will be set at a capacity of 8; while Ithaca Children’s Garden and the Sciencecenter say they will be able to accommodate drop-in attendees.?

“Ithaca has so many wonderful? institutions, and we love having the opportunity to create something with our local partners that highlights our waterfront neighborhood,” said Jen Schwade, vice president of education at the Sciencecenter.

For more information and to register visit

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