Get Outdoors with summer program in northern Lancaster County

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Children and families can explore local parks and trails this summer, through the Get Outdoors (GO) Ephrata! program, which kicked off June 3 at the Healthy Day in the Park event.

WellSpan Health and the Ephrata Public Library are once again sponsoring the activity and reading program, which has the theme “GO and Build a Better World!” The 2017 theme teaches about different organizations that keep people healthy and safe, teach about the past and educate about the future, provide services and help people to enjoy life.

The GO program, which runs through Aug. 12, teaches about these organizations through the hobby of letterboxing, in which participants follow written clues to locate hidden items. “Landmarks” – wooden marker posts with a unique etching attached – have been hidden in 15 parks within the Ephrata Area School District.

A program guide, called a “blueprint” and available free at the Ephrata Public Library, contains the clues a family needs to locate each landmark. A separate etching sheet is used to collect a picture of each landmark, by making a rubbing with a crayon or pencil.

Participants who locate all 15 posts will end up walking more than five miles.

We are excited again to partner with Ephrata Public Library to promote summer reading and physical activity for Ephrata area families,” said Kevin Alvarnaz, WellSpan director of community health and wellness. “Now in its third year, GO Ephrata! offers free opportunities for families to get outdoors and enjoy local parks and trails.”

Kids who turn in their etching sheets with at least three completed etchings will receive a prize and those who complete four etchings will be eligible for a chance to win one of three grand prizes. The program also has a Facebook page, where participants can post photos of their hunts for the posts and offer tips to others to help them find them.
“We are looking forward a third season of GO Ephrata! It is a wonderful intergenerational opportunity to get outdoors and keep fit while learning more about our local parks and community setting,” said Rebecca Lawrence, manager of public and outreach programs at the Ephrata Public Library. “Each post has a theme and recommended reading list to build upon literacy skills for children in the primary age group. The community partnership with WellSpan is another way to build relationships with municipalities and community residents.”

The Get Outdoors, or GO!, summer activity program was introduced in York in 2008 as a brainchild of the Healthy York County Coalition’s Healthy Lifestyles Task Force. The task force was looking for a way to battle the 35 percent child obesity rate in Pennsylvania. Letterboxing seemed like a fun way to get children moving.

Last year, more than 250 children participated in the program in the Ephrata area, walking more than 1,100 miles. Following a successful kickoff event at Healthy Day in the Park, this year’s GO Ephrata! program has already attracted more than 150 participants.

More information about the Get Outdoors program may be found online at The website features recommended library books that correspond with the different landmarks, directions to each park and a link to the program’s Facebook page.

About WellSpan Health

WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. The organization is comprised of a multispecialty medical group of more than 1,200 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a home care organization, six respected hospitals, more than 15,000 employees, and more than 130 patient care locations. WellSpan is a charitable, mission-driven organization, committed to exceptional care for all, lifelong wellness and healthy communities.

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