The Families Outside X-ploring Club is a free club for families that focuses on outdoor exploration, and the benefits of spending time together in the county’s natural environment.
“It is a way for families to learn how to spend free time outside, having fun together,” education program assistant Sarah Michehl said.
The McHenry County Conservation District's FOX Club started in 2008 as a response to the Leave No Child Inside initiative. Leave No Child Inside, which started in 2007, focuses on getting kids outdoors, and increasing the quality of that outdoor time.
“FOX Club encourages families to get outside because if parents aren’t comfortable with it (being outdoors), then they probably won’t let their kids play outside either,” Michehl said. “This was our way to address ‘Leave No Child Inside.’”
The FOX Club holds meetings six times a year, every other month. The meetings are held at different conservation sites around the county. The events are about free exploration, centered on a certain topic, Michehl said.
July’s FOX Club meeting is on the subject of family fishing. Michehl said she would give a short instructional presentation about safety and basic fishing information to kick off the meeting. From there, families are free to explore by participating in any activity they choose. Activities for younger children will be set up, if they do not wish to fish.
“Families can go at their own pace, and do what they want to do,” Michehl said. “It is more about learning about how to be comfortable outside and encourage exploration on different topics.”
On the months where the club does not meet, a newsletter is sent to all members. The newsletter includes a variety of information including a recap of the most recent meeting, a seasonal activity idea, upcoming events through the Conservation District and a FOX Club family feature, which showcases one of the families in the club.
The FOX Club has 130 members representing more than 25 families. New members are welcome to join any time. With sign up comes a free backpack filled with basic materials like a water bottle, a bug box, a bandana, a folder that contains all of the Conservation District site maps, a Leave No Child Inside article, and a journal for kids to record observations and keep track of how much time they spend outside.
If you are interested in joining the FOX Club, please call Prairieview Education Center for more information at 1-815-479-5779.