For years, children and families across southcentral Pennsylvania have been encouraged to "Get Outdoors (GO)" through the annual partnership between WellSpan Health and local county libraries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, that effort continues this year, but with safety measures put in place.
The initiative in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties officially kicked off July 1 and will run through Sunday, August 30. The program is new to Franklin County this year.
"More than ever, and with the past few months of uncertainty, avid Get Outdoors participants have been awaiting the start of the program," said Sandy Gladfelter, Health Educator, Community Health and Wellness, WellSpan Health. "Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and working to stop the spread of germs, our partnership with the library systems has evolved, allowing most participants to log hikes through an online application within their library account, called Beanstack. These partnerships help families enjoy fun and physical activity together."
Participants are encouraged to adhere to the guidelines for safe health, including social distancing, wearing of masks, washing and sanitizing hands frequently, as well as being physically active. State and local parks have encouraged everyone to be mindful of their individual park rules.
The free program encourages children and parents to get outdoors and be physically active by engaging in an adaptation of letterboxing, a hobby in which participants must follow written clues to locate hidden items. This year, the program focuses on folk tales, mythology and fantasy with story pages themed, “GO and Find Your Story!”
Through the program, a specific number of wooden posts with an attached etched rubbing plate are hidden in various parks and along trails. Participants use a crayon or colored pencil to rub the picture on the etched plate onto the corresponding page within their activity book. Be sure to follow social distancing practices and sanitize your hands afterward.
Rubbing sheets can be picked up curbside at your local participating library. This year, hidden posts in all but Franklin County have a unique 4-digit code that participants enter through their library app to receive credit for the hike. In Franklin County the rubbing sheets can be dropped off at any Franklin County library or emailed to email@example.com. Participants are also encouraged to share photos of their GO hunts, and offer tips, via the program’s county by county Facebook pages.
Kids who log at least three completed etchings will receive a prize. Additional grand prizes will be awarded, based on the number of etched rubbings completed (or digital codes recorded).
For specific information visit your county's GO! program website:
Since launching the GO program in York County 13 years ago, WellSpan has worked with other libraries from throughout its service area to expand the program to Adams, Lancaster and Lebanon counties. This year, Franklin County is offering the Get Outdoors program as well.
The GO program is funded through WellSpan Health’s Community Partnership Grant Program. These grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations that improve the health of the communities and people WellSpan serves.
For more information on WellSpan’s Community Partnership Grants and other ways in which WellSpan promotes healthy communities, visit www.WellSpan.org/Neighbors.