By: Robert Austin/Licensed Clinical School Social Worker & Zach/Student
Ocean Academy students have been participating in a hiking club led by one of the school counselors and an enthusiastic para professional as a way to combat stress, anger and anxiety. Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on mood and can reduce anxious feelings and help regulate the body’s response to anger. At first, some of the students were reluctant to participate but once they got out on a hiking trail and were shown the ropes they began to look forward to our Friday morning hikes.
We recently participated in a 1.4 mile guided hike at Cloverdale Farm led by park employees Patty & Becky; who educated us on the Pine Barrens and the history of cranberry bogs in Ocean County. Cloverdale Farm County Park is the newest addition to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. The property was purchased from Katherine Collins in 2004; she operated the cranberry bogs and tree farm on the property for over 50 years with her husband William. The property has been continuously run as a cranberry farm since the late 1800s.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of the park is its natural beauty. Besides cranberries, the bogs are home to wildflowers, birds, and a host of other flora and fauna. This provides an opportunity for photographers and nature enthusiasts in any season. The 1.4 mile self-guided nature trail meanders through the farm into undisturbed woodlands that offer an escape from everyday life.
The Visitors Center opened in May of 2015, and contains exhibits that highlight the natural beauty and historical significance of the park. The Visitors Center will be open weekly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; and by chance during the rest of the week. To schedule a group education program, please call the Visitors Center at 609-607-1861. http://oceancountyparks.org/
Hopefully you’ll be able to take advantage of the wonderful park system Ocean Count offers; we will see you on a hiking trial soon!
Here are some basic safety tips: Bring a buddy. It’s best not to hike alone at first, especially on unfamiliar or remote trails. A partner or group can help you navigate and assist if you get hurt. As your skill level improves, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo. Also, know before you go. Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Check the weather, and dress and pack accordingly. If storms are a possibility, rethink your plan. Follow marked paths and trails.