You can now check out more than books, movies, and music at the Fairfax County Public Library. Thanks to the Library of Virginia (through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services) you can rent activity backpacks designed to get kids to play and explore outside.
The library system is loaning free nature-themed backpacks so kids of all ages can learn about nature and science through outdoor exploration. You can use the backpacks to explore state parks as well as around your neighborhood, at Fairfax County parks, or other parks, trails, and nature centers. To rent a nature backpack, you check it out as you would a book. Each backpack or “I Love Virginia State Parks” kit includes:
- A parking pass valid at any one of 36 Virginia State Parks at no cost
- Pocket guides: Edible Wild Plants, Medicinal Plants and Weather
- Supplies such as a magnifying lens, tarp, and paracord
- A “port-a-bug” field observation container
- Information cards on outdoor skills and “leave no trace” ethics
- Activity guides and other items
You can rent each nature backpack for a two-week loan period, and all items, including the parking pass, have to be returned at the end of your loan. You also can put a hold on the backpacks, just like with books, which you will need to do, as the program has already proven popular: the 47 available backpacks at various Fairfax County Public Library branches are all checked out, as of of today, there are more than 200 holds on them. But don’t despair: for a small fee, you can rent similar backpacks filled with books, activities, and more at Hidden Oaks Nature Center!