August 21, 2023
Field Trips in Clay
Back to school season brings back visions of field trips! Whether you are looking for weekend adventures or homeschooling activities, Clay County welcomes educators and learners of all ages to take part in local spots that are perfect for learning.
Here’s a look at some top spots for local learning about history, nature, the military and more –
Camp Blanding Military Museum & Memorial Park
The Camp Blanding Military Museum & Memorial Park is owned and operated by Camp Blanding where exhibits focus on the area’s role during World War II. A weapons collection, photo exhibits and other military artifacts are on display as part of the museum experience. The adjacent Memorial Park contains monuments honoring nine Army infantry divisions and all who trained at Camp Blanding. Other monuments at the park honor recipients of the Medal of Honor, Purple Hart and former Prisoners of War.
Camp Chowenwaw Nature Center
Dating back to 1933, Green Cove Springs’ Camp Chowenwaw County Park was once Florida’s first Girl Scout Camp. Today, the public park offers 150 acres, a swimming pool and numerous trails for exploring and pristine conditions for overnight camping too.
The park’s Paw Paw Nature Center welcomes visitors to learn more about the insects and wildlife that are found within Clay County along with the surrounding ecosystems. The nearby Pollinator Garden teaches visitors how to attract and support butterflies and other pollinators found in Northeast Florida.
Clay County Historical Archives
The Clay County Historical Archives in Green Cove Springs is not only a fun and educational place to visit, but it is also a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the history of our county and state.
The historic buildings located on the grounds of the Historic Triangle site are often open and available for tours and special public events, like the Celebrate Clay County History Festival each May and the Tales from the Clink event each October. This includes the Archives Center, Old Jail, 1890 Historic Courthouse, TAPS Military Monument, Old Railroad Depot and Clay History Museum.
At the Archives Office, visitors can see the county’s hard copy records ranging from the 1850s to the 1970s. Clay County’s own Lynyrd Skynyrd also has its place inside the archives building is home to a part of the concrete slab from the band’s Hell House, the place where many international hits were written – right here in Clay County.
In Middleburg, learn this history of this quaint community at the Middleburg Museum. With monthly events like ‘Friday Night at the Museum’, locals gather together and share stories and artifacts from the area. History buffs, genealogists and families can learn of the community’s rich past and present. The museum exists to preserve, educate, honor, and promote its own history.
In addition to the monthly events, the museum is open on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. The museum’s “Walk Through Middleburg History” exhibit lets visitors immerse themselves in an example of what a home could have been like in Middleburg around the time of its founding and expansion.
Military Museum of North Florida
In Green Cove Springs, the Military Museum of North Florida is housed on the grounds of World War II’s Benjamin Lee Field which once served as the main training base for the F6F Hellcat fighter. The museum features exhibits, displays, artifacts and military vehicles from all branches of service and major conflicts from the Spanish American War to present day. The museum also celebrates Clay County’s and Green Cove Springs’ support of the WWII effort with the airfield and the Moth Ball fleet.
Penney Farm Historic Museum
Since opening its doors to the public in November 2021, the Town of Penney Farms Historic Museum welcomes visitors to peruse the artifacts and photos on display to learn about the people and past events that make up this historic town.
With a focus on the pre-1920s through the 1940s, the museum begins with the stories of a small group of African American sharecroppers that settled in what is now the New Hope community in 1920. There, they built a church and homes clustered surrounding the church building.
Descendants of the area’s homesteading families will be especially interested in seeing Census Reports for the Penney Farms area dating back to the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Other items from the early 1920s homesteading era include artifacts of fashion, furniture and household supplies and equipment, most donated or on load by area families. Visitors can also learn about the life and times of James Cash Penney with a model display of his first “Golden Rule” store (now known as J.C. Penney’s) in Kemmerer WY.
So, pack these tips and get ready for an educational adventure in Clay County. To discover more places perfect for a field trip, visit www.ExploreClay.com.