Monday, November 25, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 48, Infographics is All the Rage

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

An infographic (information graphic) is a representation of information in a graphic format designed to make the data easily understandable at a glance. People use infographics to quickly communicate a message, to simplify the presentation of large amounts of data, to see data patterns and relationships, and to monitor changes in variables over time.

Interested?  A sampling of Parks-and-Recreation-centric infographics are below.  Want to create your own?  You might want to read this:  5 Tools for Creating Your Own Infographics.

Monday, November 18, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 47, Enjoy the Capital

by Jim Stutts, VRPS Executive Director, and Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

Thanks to close to 400 individuals and business donors, the mortgage on the Virginia Recreation and Park Society headquarters office building is now paid-in-full!

During the VRPS 59th Annual Conference in James City County on Monday, September 9, 2013, delegates rallied to raise the remaining $2,500.

The Boards of both the Virginia Recreation and Park Society and the Foundation of the Virginia Recreation and Park Society are hosting an open house to celebrate!

The Open House is scheduled for Thursday, November 21, 2013 from 1-3pm.  All are welcome - please click HERE to confirm attendance and enjoy light refreshments and plaque recognition.

Thank you all for help in reachin VRPS reach this goal in six years!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 46, "Lumberjill" and Other Useful Terms

by Pam Scheets, CPRP, CPSI, Director of Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation, and Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

Q:  What happens when a lobster claw falls off?
A:  It regenerates.

Q:  What happens when a lobster claw falls off and falls on the foot of an unsuspecting tourist who happens to be in your traveling party?
A:  They scream and everybody else laughs until they're crying.

Q:  What happens when you put 30 Virginia Shenandoans (or Shenandoans-by-proxy), comprised of shopaholics and lobster-rookies, on a "mechanically challenged" tour bus and head to Maine for 7 days and 6 nights?
A:  Lots of laughing, camaraderie, memory-making, and some pretty big VISA bills ....

Enjoy the following trip re-cap by Pam Scheets, CPRP, CPSI, Director of Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation, VRPS Past Board-of-Directors member, and VRPS 2013 Annual Conference Awards and Citations Co-Chair.

Location highlights:

We visited the Maine towns of Freeport, South Portland, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Bath, Camden, and Bar Harbor.

Stops included L.L. Bean, the Franciscan Monastery, Kennebunkport, the Wedding Cake House, Len Libby's Chocolatier, Maine Maritime Museum in Bath, Camden (lunch break), the Great Maine Lumberjack Show in Ellsworth, and Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor.

We also had driving tours of Portland, South Portland, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Acadia National Park, and Bar Harbor, and a drive-by of the Bush family estate (Walker Estate).

The owner/operator of the Great Maine Lumberjack Show is Lumberjill Tina, one of the participants of CBS’ “Survivor:  Panama.”  She was hysterically funny and told some really good stories.  She recently filmed some episodes in Alaska for a new reality show, but she couldn’t disclose any details.  She has been invited back several times to participate as a Survivor veteran, but she hasn’t gone yet.

Everyone marveled at the beauty of Acadia National Park; while there was just spots of leaf color there, we did see good spots of color on the way to Maine.  Acadia National Park was beautiful; because you can drive and park at the pinnacle - Cadillac Mountain, we were able to offer a longer free-time session in Bar Harbor for lunch and shopping.  That day, we had purchased boxed lunches for everyone; a few stayed at the park to hike and to eat lunch while we took the rest of the group into town where they could eat on the main town green overlooking the water and the bay/boats.  After lunch, many shopped and shopped and shopped while others took photos or just relaxed on the green.  It was a lovely, warm afternoon.

Many of the ladies (and one or two men) swam every night after dinner; we utilized the pools and saunas each night and told fabulous stories about family, friends, and other trips.  We also talked over the day and discussed what everyone liked and what they would like to do the next day.

Lobster highlights:

We enjoyed two lobster dinners on the trip - one in South Portland and one in Bar Harbor.  Many from our group had lobster before but never had to crack and open them.  Waitstaff were on-hand to assist “newbies” with pickin’ lobster (much like pickin’ crabs).

The educational session at the Bar Harbor Oceanarium and Lobster Hatchery was absolutely hysterical.  The “old salt” who gave the talk was a lobsterwoman who had been on the water her whole life.  The highlight is a live blue lobster (pretty awesome to see).  As she was holding it out to the front row of the audience, one of its legs fell off (they regenerate) and on the foot of one of our participants.  You should have heard the screaming, giggling, and snorting!  I had tears I was laughing so hard.  Everytime someone made a wise crack or asked a silly question, she threw a claw band (used to hold the claw closed) at them.  We visited the hatchery afterwards and saw females loaded with eggs as well as lobsters in various growth stages - fascinating to see.

HOWEVER, I noted to PML Tours that they should probably re-arrange that Oceanarium/Hatchery tour, because as soon as we left there, we went to a Lobsterbake and ATE the lobsters we just learned about!

Bus highlights:

On the way up, our bus developed a “vibration” that caused most of the bus to shake and shimmy.  Because we stayed overnight in Connecticut on the way up and arrived in Maine so early on our first day, we made an unplanned stop at L.L. Bean to drop the group while the bus headed off for some “garage time.”  Two new tires cost just under $2,000!  So, the additional time really pleased everyone as we had several shoppers on this trip!

On the last day as we started our return trip, we made 70 miles before the bus developed more issues, leaning very heavily to one side.  We ended up sitting in a fast-food parking lot for 6 hours waiting for repairs.  We chartered another bus to get us partially home that night while a third bus was driven from North Carolina for our morning departure.  We had a lovely evening drive to Hartford for our night's stay after changing our itinerary (including our hotel and route home).  The next morning, we loaded our replacement bus only to disembark 5 minutes later when it was discovered that it had a flat tire.  We unloaded and waited an additional two hours for a tire change.  After that, we re-loaded and headed home!

Because we changed routes, we were able to work in another unplanned stop at Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA; this was another shopping destination requested by the group because we had passed one on the way to Maine!  At this stop, the group broke into three different groups:  while some went shopping at Cabela’s, some ate at Cracker Barrel, and some went to a few of the fast-food joints.

We watched four movies and one stand-up comic routine on our DVD player, and this group laughed and laughed and laughed a whole lot during the trip.

To enjoy more of Pam's photos from the "Maine's Coast in Autumn" trip, visit the trip album at VRPS on Flickr.

Monday, November 4, 2013

52 Ways to Use Your VRPS Membership: Week 45, Partnering by Creative Means

by Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

The "Little Free Library" is an organization that, in a nutshell, is a collection of worldwide locations that offer anyone (ANYONE) the opportunity to take a book (or two) and bring a book to share.  The books are housed, as you might guess, in "little houses" - of varied designs.  The idea, among other things, is to solve that problem of, as the Winchester Star puts it:

"When school doors close and the library lights go out for the night, most students have no place to grab a new book."

The Little Free Library website offers a comprehensive map identifying all the LFL's around the world.  In Virginia, there are about 33, including

  • Alexandria
  • Arlington
  • Big Stone Gap
  • Charlottesville
  • Chesapeake
  • Churchville
  • Danville (9!)
  • Fredericksburg
  • Henrico (2)
  • Keysville
  • Leesburg
  • Lexington
  • Lynchburg
  • Mineral
  • Newport News
  • Norfolk
  • Richmond (2)
  • Virginia Beach
  • Winchester
There could be more that haven't made it to the map yet.  In fact, Little Free Library believes only about one-fourth of the libraries are actually mapped.

Danville appears to be the most prevalent Little Free Library Virginia community, boasting 9.  And, while most of the LFL's find their homes at private addresses, subdivisions, and schools, there are Virginia LFL's located at an art studio, a Kiwanis club, and even a Starbucks.  Likewise, it appears that some Danville, Lexington, and Winchester parks are homes to LFL's.

It's neat - a collection of literary lovers have established their own library system and become part of a greater good.  There is no need to be a nonprofit or affiliated with some sort of organization - anyone can do it.  By the end of 2013, Little Free Library believes they will have over 15,000 LFL's in 55 countries.  Interested?  Visit their website to get started.  Folks have shared library-box-construction plans, created a Facebook page, and offered instruction.  Then share YOUR story with us!