Tuesday, February 5, 2013

LEEF mini-conference FAQ

I've had some questions about Camp Bayou and particularly about the possibility of camping overnight for the conference so I thought I'd post some commonly asked questions:

What is Camp Bayou?
Camp Bayou is a 160 acre, Hillsborough County Preserve, that is generally open for day use only. It was an RV park in a past life but has been purchased for public use through the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program (ELAPP). The County has had a partnership agreement with our local non-profit since 1999 to provide environmental education to the public.

Is it OK if we arrive before the scheduled start of 9:30am?
Camp Bayou's gates will be open at 8am. Feel free to arrive early to browse the nature center, fossil museum, native people's camp or other interesting sights and/or walk a trail. Or try to find our Geocaches or Letterbox or snap some pictures for our Picture Posts.

Day use only? But I thought we could camp there!
Through a special agreement with Hillsborough County Conservation Services, LEEF conference attendees have permission to camp overnight on Friday.

What is the fee to camp on Friday night?
Camping will be permitted, for this event only, for FREE! I do need to know how many people to expect overnight so be sure to include that info on your registration form and/or email me at campbayou@gmail.com.

What kind of restroom facilities can we expect?
There are 2 restroom buildings leftover from the RV park and although they look all of their 40 some-odd years old, they do have working toilets and showers- with hot water! There are women's and men's sides with 2 toilets and 2 showers in each side of each building. The only thing that campers need to be aware of is that the septic fields are just as old as the structures so conserving water should be at the top of everyone's list so we do not have an... episode.

Can we use a propane camp stove?
You can bring a camp stove as long as you exercise caution and use it with sensible safety in mind.

Are there any- more civilized- accommodations nearby?
There are a couple motels about 5 miles away: Comfort Inn and Ruskin Inn
A few more miles away is Little Harbor, a resort on Tampa Bay, right in Ruskin.

What's on the lunch menu?
Lynn Kessel, Food Columnist for the Tampa Tribune/SouthShore News, has graciously agreed to provide lunch for us. Enjoy Dill and Dijon Egg Salad Wraps or BLT with Avocado Wraps, plus a fruit platter.  Save room for dessert- Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting. Yummm!

Can we have a campfire?
Much depends on what the fire quotient is for that weekend but there is a fire circle and logs for seating that can be used on Friday night- again, following safe practices such as having the water hose handy and not making a huge bonfire.

Can I bring my canoe or kayak?
Yes! We have a great canoe launch just down the trail from the tenting area with direct access to the Little Manatee River. There is a nice 90 minute loop around the island south of Camp Bayou.
UPDATE! If you don't have your own canoe, Camp Bayou will have canoes for rent starting in March! Perhaps those interested can do the 90 minute loop after the conference ends at 4pm.

Is there going to be a Silent Auction this year?
There is not enough time at the conference this year to have the regular silent auction. In lieu of an auction, there will be a raffle table where folks can put their tickets to win a variety of items. Tickets will be available, for a donation of $1 each, at the registration table. If anyone is interested in donating an item for the table, contact Dolly .

Will there be a Teacher Resource exchange?
There is nothing on the agenda for a planned teacher resource exchange but Camp Bayou will have a table with some items that can be taken for free: nature magazines, posters, a fish tank or two, some water testing kits, etc.

Where exactly are you located?
Camp Bayou is 3 miles south of SR 674 at the end of 24th St SE in Ruskin, just 5 miles from I-75 exit 246.
If you want to Google it, the physical address is 4140 24th St SE, 33570.

If anyone has any other questions, please email me at campbayou@gmail.com and I will be happy to answer them and perhaps include them in this FAQ.

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