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Cypress Gardens plays host to school field trips

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Michael Quirk/Independent Students arrive back to the dock from their guided boat tour through the swamp.

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Cypress Gardens welcomes around 10,000 schoolchildren on field trips every year.

The schools keep the swamp gardens going during the workweek, said Cypress Gardens director Dwight Williams.

“It’s nice to stay busy during the week and the kids really seem to enjoy it,” he said.

Teachers are offered 15 different educational programs that each last between 30-45 minutes. They pick three programs from the list and rotate 15-25 students through the three stations.

Programs include dip netting on the swamp bank, digging for fossils and exploring rotten logs in the “Big Bug Hunt.”

The most popular program is the swamp safari where children take part in guided boat tours.

“The tour really sinks in with the kids and is a big deal to them,” said education coordinator Liz Vaughn. “They see turtles and alligators ... they ask if there are sharks in there, and it connects them to what is in their backyard here in South Carolina.”

Schools can also sign up for a limited guided tour with two programs from the list or can do self-guided tours. Summer camps also make trips to the gardens and are offered one program per group.

The children and teachers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program, said Vaughn.

“A lot of these kids don’t go outdoors much because they’re in school all day and go home to play video games. Seeing them learning and enjoying the outdoors, that’s what is exciting about working here.”

To arrange a field trip or receive more information contact environmental education coordinator Traci Cook at (843) 553-0515.

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