Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 7, 2021

Register for Outdoor Summer Fun at Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center, May 15

Trailside summer camp returns with all-outdoor schedule; COVID safety rules apply.

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce a new and exciting season of summer programs for children and families at Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center, located in the Watchung Reservation at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside.

Registration begins Saturday, May 15 at 9:00 a.m. for Union County residents, and Monday, May 17 at 9:00 a.m. for non-county residents. To register, visit Union County’s secure registration site at ucnj.org/reserve. Please be advised the programs book up quickly.

“Trailside’s summer programs offer visitors of all ages a wonderful opportunity to spend time outdoors and have fun while learning about our natural heritage,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

This summer, Trailside will offer a series of all outdoor, half day programs in July and August. Programs are designed to foster an awareness and appreciation of the natural world through hikes and engaging activities.  Complete descriptions for all programs can be found on Trailside’s website, ucnj.org/trailside.

Half-day programs will be offered for children ages 6 to 12.  Parents can enroll their children in a morning session from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. or an afternoon session from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Children ages 6 and 7 can investigate field, forest and wetland habitats to discover the diversity of plants and wildlife found in the Watchung Reservation in Have to Have a Habitat,  or they can use their imagination in Around the World to learn about animals that live in North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.  Reptiles, amphibians, mammals, insects and birds are the focus of the Feather, Fur and Scales program, while Trail Tales teaches kids how to read a map, enjoy hiking and learn about the interconnectedness of all living things.  

Participants ages 8 and 9 are invited to investigate the diversity of life in and around the Watchung Reservation’s wetland areas in Junior Naturalist. Campers will learn to catch, identify and release crayfish, tadpoles, frogs and aquatic insects.  Trailside Treks will focus on the joy of hiking in the great outdoors; learn to read a map, visit the Deserted Village, hike around Lake Surprise and more. The Call of the Wild program celebrates the diversity of wildlife seen in the Reservation from flying squirrels and butterflies to coyote and black bear.

Children ages 10 to 12 can discover how to make an emergency shelter, build a safe campfire and find out how to survive in the wild in Backwoods Lore, or they can discover how to identify birds by sight and sound, learn to recognize tracks of common mammals, catch salamanders in the stream and discover the wonderful world of insects in the All About Animals program.  The Nature Treks class will investigate a new trail system each day, visiting the more seldom seen sites of the Watchung Reservation.

Trailside will also offer evening programs for families with children ages 6 and older to explore the Watchung Reservation at night. Families can take a stroll as the sun sets and find out which animals become active at dusk.  Families can also enjoy learning about fireflies and nocturnal animals as well as take part in a moonlight walk.  

In order to follow COVID-19 guidelines, all programs will be limited in size. Masks are required and must be worn by all participants, and social distancing guidelines must be observed.

For more information about summer programs for children and families at Trailside, please visit ucnj.org/trailside or call 908-789-3670.

In-person activities in Union County parks are limited during the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with statewide public health guidelines, and Trailside is closed to the public until further notice. More information about all Union County parks is available at https://ucnj.org/parks-recreation.

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities, including online resources during the COVID-19 outbreak, visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connect.

For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including the Drive-Through Test Center at Kean University and the Mobile Test Unit walk-up sites, vaccination information, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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