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Get Outdoors Program is where frugal meets family fun
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The Get Outdoors (GO) Program is where frugal meets family fun for Georgians. Our state boasts some of the most beautiful spaces in the country and accessing those spaces has become even easier with the GO Program. GO encourages families to get outdoors, get dirty, and get fit. With a state park within 50 miles of every state resident, your family could be living it up at a different state park every weekend for months.

Let's start exploring the GO Program with my favorite - the library park pass. Any Georgian who holds a valid library card can borrow a Georgia State Park and Historic Site Pass from their local libraries. The passes are good for free parking or admission at any of the 63 parks and historic sites statewide for up to five days. I know. How wonderful is that?

Each of the three public library sites in Newton County has three Get Library Park Pass Program packets - the Covington Branch located at 7116 Floyd Street in Covington; the Newborn Service Outlet located at 4224 Ga. Highway 142 in Newborn; and the Porter Memorial Branch located at 6191 Highway 212 in Covington.

Given the limited number of packets and the popularity of the program, packets can be in high demand - especially during the spring and summer months when the weather drives us outdoors to enjoy all of the natural splendor Georgia has to offer.

Get Outdoors Georgia also has a program called Fishing Tackle Loaner. The Fishing Tackle Loaner Program (FTLP), developed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) and Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites is funded through the Sportfish Restoration program and provides a way for budding anglers to try fishing without having to purchase any equipment.

The goal of FTLP is to remove the barrier of needing your own fishing tackle and to encourage fishing activities at Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. WRD provides rods, reels and tackle box equipment to participating State Parks and Historic Sites offices. If you're interested in benefitting from the FTLP, ask at the park office where you can check out equipment for the day.

I recently wrote about Indian Springs State Park down in Flovilla (which is a hop, skip, and a jump from Covington). Indian Springs participates in the FTLP.
Children ages 7-14 can participate in the Junior Ranger Get Outdoors Program. Choose from a list of 16 different badge requirements that will get you outdoors and help you learn about nature. Kids age 7-10 must complete five activities and those aged 11-14 must complete eight activities. You can print the badge requirements online at Free Junior Ranger Activity Books are available at all of Georgia's State Parks & Historic Sites. You can also download one online at the site listed above. Unfortunately, activity books cannot be mailed to you.

Junior Ranger activities include setting up a camp site, walking instead of riding, making a snack for a hike, enjoying a sunrise or a sunset. Children are also encouraged to complete all three Junior Ranger levels. There is a badge available for each level. Even if your kids aren't "outdoorsy," you'll have a great time going through the activity book together and learning new things.

Conveniently located in and around Newton County are several state parks in which your family can enjoy the GO programs. The following state parks make the perfect day trip for Newton County families: Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Hard Labor Creek in Rutledge, Panola Mountain in Stockbridge, High Falls in Jackson and Indian Springs in Flovilla. That's just staying south and east of Atlanta. Once you go west and north, you'll find even more wonderful places to explore using the GO programs.

With the GO programs, your family can bike, hike, boat, camp, swim, golf, sight see, picnic, and play in one of our 63 state parks, exploring over 74,000 acres of nature including historic sites, streams, trails, mountains, and more. And, if you need for me to sweeten the deal any more, your family could experience a winter getaway at one of our state parks for a steal. Georgia State Parks offer discounts of up to 30 percent on lodgings through the end of March. Go to for more information. I mean, who doesn't want to experience camping in a yurt this time of year? Well, you could for as little as $46 a night if you went on down to High Falls in Jackson.

Y'all grab a GO packet at the library and get outdoors, get dirty, and get fit. I'm sure you'll see my family out there as well. Be sure to say hello if you do.


Beth McAfee-Hallman lives in Covington and can be emailed at