Why Dudley Farm Second Saturday Kids Day is a Must See
From the time my boys were babies we have been hiking. It’s just one of those things we do. I knew from the moment I became a mom that getting out and about in nature would be part and parcel of our family’s fabric, so once Jack hit the tender age of 9 months I hit the trails with baby-in-tow.
Some days Jack rode along in a baby backpack. Other days he bounced along as I pushed the B.O.B. No matter what, we have hiked a trail at least once per week since the kid has been a tot. When Eli came along, we joined us and we have been a fearsome threesome on the Gainesville, Florida trails ever since.
One of our favorite parks has always been Dudley Farm Historic State Park. Unbeknowst to many, there is a short trail system just to the left (west) of the parking lot. For a long time, my kids didn’t do much more than explore those short pathways and check out the tractors.
It must have been two or three years before we ever made it back to the actually farm, lol.
That’s okay. When we hike, I’m always on the boys’ time clock, not mine.
Once we made it down the long path to the actual farmstead, the boys loved the hands-on possibilities. There is water to be pumped from the well, corn to be shucked in the shed, and chickens and turkeys to cluck with in the yard. The outhouse and kitchen are a fascination as the boys learn why these two critical areas are separate from the main house.
You can try your hand at sweeping with a corn husk broom or simply rock on the front porch and watch the butterflies flutter through the garden.
Hopefully you can see why we love Dudley Farm so much – it’s engaging, as well as educational and that’s always a hit in our homeschool household.
A year or two after we finally made it to see the farm, a volunteer asked me if we would be attending the Dudley Farm Second Saturday Kids Day. In all the years we had been exploring Dudley, I didn’t remember ever hearing about it. Or maybe I did, but at the time I thought my kids were too young.
Now I have to admit, when I hear about a public event I am a bit cautious. My oldest son gets anxious in large group settings, so I am careful to scope out these events thoroughly before we go. I also find that a lot of “kid events” aren’t always planned with kids abilities in mind and there is nothing more frustrating for a child or parent to attend an event and be told they have to wait in long lines, be quiet for long periods of time, or watch and listen instead of touch and explore.
Dudley Farm Second Saturday Kids Day is absolutely wonderful at capturing kids attention, giving the boys hands-on opportunities, and creating mutual dialogue at the kids level.
In a nutshell, it is one of those magical public events that is geared to kids and the folks at Dudley have thoughtfully planned educational content that is delivered in itty bitty bite-size kid pieces. Plus, the volunteers are wonderful and don’t expect the kids to listen to long historical lectures, they simply engage the kids with questions, but mostly they are just there to answer questions. Love this!
We usually bring a snack (why do my children have to chew while they learn, lol?) and start our journey at the first kid station just past the parking lot. If it’s busy, we stroll past and catch that one on the return. We skip down the trail to the farmstead and then I just let the kids free-roam from one station to the next.
Jack is my deep thinker, so he will usually find a station that captivates his interest and pretty much install himself there for while. He’ll chat with the volunteers, help them with whatever activity they’ve got, and he’ll talk and talk and talk. Love it.
Eli is my zip, zip, zippy active boy and he will zoom from one activity to the next, half finishing a project at one station and then moving on. In between, we look at bugs, jump over dirt piles, play hide and seek in the banana trees and whatever else his “shiny ball” attention span demands. Perfect!
If you haven’t been to Dudley Farm Second Saturday Kids Day give it a try. The event takes place October through May on the second Saturday of each month from 10A-2P. If you’re not a Florida State Parks Passholder, the park fee is $5 cash at the iron ranger on the drive in. The actual event is free. There is a picnic area in the parking lot. Bring water and bug spray, weather dependent. Closed toe shoes is also helpful. No pets.
* Feature image copyright of FriendsofDudleyFarm.org