Mayor Chris Vierra recently declared July to be National Parks and Recreation Month in Ceres and urged Cereans to enjoy its parks and recreational opportunities.
City of Ceres Recreation Supervisor Cambria Pollinger and Recreation Manager Traci Farris accepted the proclamation.
At the July 10 City Council meeting, Mayor Vierra cited how "recreation programs foster human development and provide positive alternatives for children and youth during non-school hours to reduce crime and mischief, thereby helping children and youth develop and grow into healthy and productive adults." He also noted the human connections that such programs give to adults as well.
Farris explained how the city held its first family campout at Ceres River Bluff Regional Park July 7-8 which drew 55 persons. Families paid $30 for the experience, which is expected to be duplicated again next year.
"Several of them had never camped out before," said Farris.
The Ceres Lions Club provided dinner and breakfast to campers and the Ceres Rotary Club donated $500 to buy camping supplies, such as tents, lanterns and tarps. The city Public Works Department helped build a fire pit where campers warmed themselves and roasted marshmallows for S'mores.
"I saw families bonding together, putting up their tents together, sitting around the fire, making S'mores, talking to each together away from technology," said Crystel Aguilar at the July 10 council meeting. "It was just a fine experience and I'm definitely looking forward to my next camping experience - maybe not in a soccer field, somewhere else."
The camp-out included a visitor who introduced a Peregrine falcon to the kids and their parents.
Pollinger said there are scientific facts that show being outdoors reduces stress and anxiety.
"It's said that if everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven percent fewer cases of depression and a nine percent decrease in high blood pressure," said Pollinger.
This fall the city will be introducing a nature based program on the lower terrace of the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park. Volunteers will be talking to students about plant identification, animal identification, how to build fires safely and how to build a shelter.