Monday, September 8, 2014

October 4 Lewis & Clark Butterfly Festival

Inspired by the Monarch butterfly, we're holding the Lewis & Clark Butterfly Festival 10 AM-3 PM on Saturday, October 4th.  We'll have free and low cost activities for children and adults, including making butterflies out of paper, words, and fabric; constructing a flag out of small butterfly paintings, going for a hike looking for butterflies and their special plants; and building a caterpillar out of egg cartons.  We'll also have our wooden boats on our special beach for people to take rides in.  

Where: the Outdoor Terrace of the new Center in Darden Towe Park.  (Take a left when you enter Darden Towe, and follow the road up the hill.  We're on the left at the very end). 

You can call for more information--  434-996-7282  or email us at

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wooden Boat Party Event Postponed

Hi Everyone,

Unfortunately, the rains were so heavy last night that the river is still moving logs down in a very fast current.  We're postponing the event and will let you know what date we choose!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wooden Boat Party Saturday August 23

We're showing off our kid-made wooden pirogues from 10 AM to 2 PM, Saturday, August 23rd at the Darden Towe Boat Ramp.  Rides will be available (one or two in a boat) on a very calm part of the Rivanna River where you can enjoy yourself with a brief paddle up and down.  We'll also have a display of our photos of boat building this year and in previous years, as well as a chance to help us paint our newest boat, made by City of Charlottesville campers this year.

For over ten years, the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center has been making wooden boats with kids.  This design is the smallest boat we make, and it is based on a Louisiana design found in a half-century old Boys' Life Magazine (the magazine of the Boy Scouts).  Lewis and Clark have everything to do with the Louisiana Purchase, and they used two larger pirogues for their own Expedition.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Art Supply Saturday August 2

The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center is accepting art donations on the terrace of our new building in Darden Towe Park this coming Saturday, August 2, 9 AM to 12 PM.  If there's any art clutter in your house, bring it on over!  Canvasses, paint, paper, glitter, art wood building sets, blocks:  we'll welcome it all.  We're having a Fall Butterfly Festival where these supplies will be needed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Boat Launch Today

Join us today in Darden Towe Park as we finish up our boat building workshops with City of Charlottesville campers. We'll be putting the last touches on the boat and then launching it into the Rivanna River. Floating expected though not assumed! Rain or shine, but if there's thunder we'll do it another day. From 10 to 11 we'll be at the Keelboat Barn in Darden Towe Park, and around 11 we'll bring the new wooden boat to the Darden Towe Park Boat Launch. To get to the Keelboat Barn, take a right when you get into the park, and continue on until you pass the soccer fields and picnic shelter. To get to the Boat Launch, take a left when you get into the park. Curve around and after the curve you'll see a parking lot to your left that's adjacent to the Boat Launch.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First Grade Field Trip

Today we had thirty first graders from the Covenant School.  We boarded the Keelboat, toured the new building and its murals, and planted seeds for butterfly habitat. Then we walked to the Classroom Quarry, learning about the geology of the area.  Here are some photos of our morning:

We learned about the monarch butterfly and how it needs milkweed for its eggs.  Then we planted milkweed in the field.

Patrick plants some milkweed for the butterflies.  

Here are some descendants of the Lewis and Clark families:  with the red hair on the far left, Clark's descendant (Clark also had red hair).  The girl on the far right is also related to William Clark.  The boy in the middle is related to the Lewis family. 

Distributing seeds

Entering the Classroom Quarry

Monday, May 5, 2014

New Handicapped Access Trail and Kayak Shed

The University of Virginia's APO service fraternity made the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center one of their major projects this spring, putting in a handicapped access trail from our new building to an existing trail overlooking the river.  In the midst of finals, leaders Michael McGrath and Thomas Carter Foulds came over this past Sunday to finish up.  They were both happy that the recent rains hadn't washed away the layers of the trail already put in.

Vice President Sally Thomas and I were enlisted to help.  Until weeks past, I had watched APO make the trail while I was nearby teaching children nature activities.  After working on the trail Sunday, I have a new appreciation for their gift to us of our trail and for trails in general.  It was a great opportunity to learn.

I started by hosing down the existing trail as Michael raked it.  Then I shoveled stone into a wheelbarrow so we could add it to the trail.

Here I am in the truck.  I'm proud of this picture!  I've never been in a truck before shoveling stone.  It was hard getting up there.  I climbed on one of the tires.

The action shot version.

Here's Michael working on the trail.

First, we dumped stone.

And then we raked the stone into the existing layer.  The stone had to be dampened with water from a hose, and then Michael came by with the compacting roller.  If there were grooves, we raked again.  

I tried  the above.  It was as heavy as it looks.

Here is Thomas at the kayak shed.  I like the Bridge over the River Kwai T-shirt, though when you're building something it's interesting to wear a short about something that was blown up.

Here is Sally coming to help, complete with a car-full of gloves, sunscreen, and other useful items.  

After Sunday, I'm more grateful than ever for all of APO's hard work!