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Monday, December 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 38.0° F  Light Rain Fog/Mist
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Play ball!
Activities to kick off summer
on

Ducks in a row

The Madison Mallards will have Kids Days from 10 am to 1 pm on Friday, June 15, and Tuesday, July 24. For $8, each child will receive access to various concourse activities such as the dunk tank, climbing wall and speed-pitch game; locker-room tours; a seat for a scrimmage between players and staff; lunch; and a ticket to that night's game. The team also will host two baseball clinics for young players, ages 8-16, from 9 am to noon on Wednesday, June 20, and Monday, July 23. Instruction in hitting, fielding and other fundamentals will be provided by Mallards players and team manager C.J. Thieleke. The $30 fee includes a T-shirt, two game tickets and lunch at the ballpark. For tickets and more info, visit madisonmallards.com.

Back to nature

Here's an idea to consider when helping your kids plan their summer. Earth Focus Day Camp at the UW Arboretum will once again offer a close-to-home learning experience that provides kids ages 3-14 hands-on interaction with native Wisconsin plants and animals. Four summer sessions ("Croakers and Quakers," "Catch Me If You Can!," "Woodland Rap" and "Flutterby Butterflies") in three different age groups (age 3-kindergarten, grades 1-5 and grades 6-8) will be held throughout the summer, beginning June 18 and running through mid-August. Camp activities include discovery hikes combined with age-appropriate art, music, games, stories and other activities. The camp series will close with the first-ever Earth Focus Day Camp Family Celebration and Night Hike on Aug. 17. Arboretum officials say the research and restoration taking place on the facility's 1,200 acres help teach children that they can have a positive influence on their little corner of the world. For dates, times and fees, or to register, visit uwarboretum.org/education/efdc or call 263-7888. The registration deadline is one week prior to the start of each session.

Trail mix

From the "things you may not know about Middleton" file: The city boasts more than 35 miles of maintained shared-use trails, and its Public Lands Department is having a Father's Day weekend party to help introduce them to families and other outdoor enthusiasts. Middleton's National Trails and Fitness Day, part of the American Hiking Society's National Trails Day celebration, begins at 7:30 am on Saturday, June 16, at the Orchid Heights Park Shelter, 3960 Valley Ridge Rd. Scheduled activities include hiking, biking, birdwatching, dog walking, yoga, pontoon-boat rides, live music and other eco-activities. Communities around the country are recognizing organized trail systems as amenities integral to economic, social and physical vitality, according to the AHS. Local event coordinator Ellen Rulseh calls trails "place keepers" of open spaces in urban areas. "We are, regrettably slowly, becoming aware of the urgent importance of protecting habitat for other creatures - if for no other reason than to preserve our own species," she says. For a schedule of National Trails and Fitness Day events, see www.visitmiddleton.com/events.html.

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