Friday, May 23, 2014

Adventuring // East Bay Regional Parks Volunteer Dinner 2014

Cull Canyon- "Cabana" Meeting Area
^ The entire cabana area was filled with tables & chairs to fit all the staff & volunteers. ^
Cull Canyon- Sunny Swimming Area
 ^ Evening swim, anyone? ^
Cull Canyon- Walkway
Cull Canyon- Event Admission Line
Cull Canyon- East Bay Regional Parks' Volunteer Dinner
^ The schedule. ^
Cull Canyon- EBRP Volunteers
^ What a colorful table we had! ^
Cull Canyon- EBRP 80th Anniversary Map 
^ Mother showing off the new handkerchiefs everyone received. ^
Cull Canyon- Swimming Area at Dusk
Cull Canyon- EBRP Volunteers/Family Picture 
^ A normal family picture! With our friendly, neighborhood James {Captain of the Mobile Fish Exhibit} ^
Cull Canyon- EBRP Volunteers Goofing Off
 ^ Because everyone needs a "weird" picture, right? ^
Cull Canyon- To the Bridge
 ^ Obviously the parentals have gotten used to me following them and taking their picture ^
Cull Canyon- Crossing the Bridge

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the East Bay Regional Park system and another successful year of volunteerism in the parks.


Who: The Parentals & I
Where: Cull Canyon Regional Recreation Area in Castro Valley
When: Wednesday at 5:30 PM

The Place: I grew up right around the corner from Cull Canyon-- during Summer Day Camp, we'd spend a whole day there, playing in the sand and swimming in the lake {or in my case, getting hit in the face by a fish the one time I worked up enough nerve to stick my head into the murky water. How I wish I were kidding. O.o}.

When I think Cull Canyon, I think singing "Thank You, Mr Bus Driver" before disembarking hot yellow school buses, ninety degree weather, an intense aroma of sunscreen {ugh}, the gritty feel of sand EVERYWHERE, and watching the "big kids" swim out to the dock on the other side of the lake. Basically, it reminds me of elementary school.

So it's always trippy to go back for an official event.

That being said, Cull Canyon really is a great place for a family day trip during the summer. From what I can remember, the lake bottom is pebbles, so it's nice on tiny feet, and it's pretty shallow even a decent distance from shore. There's a buoy cord that lets you know when the water starts to get deeper and it's an easy swim {or at least the "big kids" made it look easy-- I haven't swum there since, like, first grade, when I wasn't allowed into the deeper water, so... *shrugs*} from shoreline to floating dock. And there's usually a lifeguard on duty.

Parking shouldn't be a problem since the lot is pretty big and, even if it gets full, there's tons of street parking. The bathrooms are huge and airy {compared to your average park bathroom} and even have changing stalls that make getting into and out of your bathing suit super easy {everyone knows that a long car ride home in a wet swimsuit is not the business}. Plus, as you can see from a few of the photos up there, the cabana area is perfect for large parties and get-togethers.
The Event: The Volunteer Recognition Dinner is an annual event for the park service; this year, however, things were extra celebratory because 2014 is also the 80th anniversary of the organization. Whoot whoot!

Most of the park volunteers and event attendees are retired seniors, which means dinner is early, speeches are short, and there are a lot of cute, smiling, older people everywhere. It's pretty fun. No one is really out to impress anybody else and they've all gotten to know each other well over the years, so it's a very relaxed, very happy environment. Lots of laughter.

Dinner was cooked and served by EBRP staff as a way of thanking the volunteers for their service this past year. The food was quite excellent; kudos, team! And since everyone there is pro-parks and pro-preserving-open-spaces and pro-saving-the-planet, all the plates, cups, bowls, and utensils were compostable. Gotta love being green!

The table centerpieces were potted, California native, drought-resistant plants that were raffled off to one lucky winner per table. I have a photo of my cousin and her Cleveland Ragwort {which she appropriately dubbed "Cleveland"}, but she might kill me if I posted it... *hee*

Other Observations:
+ There were posters along all the cabana pillars with lists of people and how many hours they volunteered so far. Daddy was on the 101-200 hour list, while Mom was on the 51-100 hour list. Yay, parentals!

+ One lady had her name under the "40+ Years" list. She had been volunteering with the parks for the past forty-three years. So impressed.

+ Hearing some of the things that volunteers have accomplished in the past twelve months was pretty cool. And as a person who enjoys numbers {when in statistic and infographic form}, I also enjoyed the breakdown of hours given, people involved, and parks impacted.

+ Sit near a heat lamp and preferable with a view of the people with the microphones. It gets cold at Cull Canyon in the evening and you don't want to spend an hour and a half staring into a wooden pillar like I did.

+ I initially wasn't sure about going to this event. I don't really know anyone and they're all significantly older than me. But I was surprised at how easily conversation flowed and smiles were exchanged and how comfortable I actually was once there. So either this says something about how friendly the East Bay Regional Parks' volunteers are, or it says something about how grandma-like I really am... Either one is pretty valid, I think.


Cull Canyon Regional Recreational Area
18627 Cull Canyon Road
Castro Valley, CA 94546

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