For the past 32 years, Playcard Environmental Education Center has hosted an annual Swampfest event which draws large crowds of people who spend part of the day getting back to nature.

The annual event was held this past Saturday and the weather was absolutely perfect.

Ben Abercrombie, the manager of the center, was all smiles as he walked around from display to display, talking to the participants and visitors who all seemed to be having a great time.

Some were enjoying the walking trails which led to an area where many enjoyed canoe rides while others participated in crafts and other activities -- such as making swiss cheese candles.

Debbi Hendershot, leader of Girl Scout Troop 845 from North Myrtle Beach, was using a campfire to melt wax that was then molded into a candle with holes that gave the appearance of swiss cheese.

The campfire was also being used to roast marshmallows and other tasty treats.

“It is a lot of fun. I like being outside. It is nice to have all the interaction with the kids,” Hendershot said.

She was being assisted by students from Early College High School.

A few feet away from Hendershot and the campfire, Sharon Doyle was busy making batches of chocolate chip cherry cheer wine cobbler with help from 11-year-old Shawn Fuller.

“This is a scout favorite,” Doyle said.

She has been with the scouts since 2011 and has made Swampfest a tradition.

“We like coming out. We like the community. We like showing folks what we do,” Doyle said.

Other events enjoyed by the crowd included soapmaking, archery, farming, reptile exhibits, and hayrides.

Ben Abercrombie, director of the center said one of the reasons Swampfest is so popular is because it “is very important that children have that hands-on connection with green spaces, and the more we promote that in Horry County the healthier our lives will be," he said. "We will have a more vibrant economy and a lot better future for our children."

One of the things that makes Playcard very unique is the fact it can even be enjoyed by people who are visually impaired. One of the pathways through the woods is known as the “brail trail” because it is equipped with special brail signage.

The trail is sponsored by the Lion’s Club of North Myrtle Beach.

Nils Regnell, a part of the Lion’s Club, said the signs have descriptions of the displays but they also have brail descriptions on the signs.

During Swampfest, the Lion’s Club held a “trust walk” where participants put on a blind fold and they held onto a rope in one hand and followed the person in front of them.

“It seems like they walk for a mile, but it is really a couple of hundred yards,” Regnell said. “They get the same impression they would feel if they were blind.”

The Lion’s Club also made a $100 check presentation to Abercrombie and Playcard.

Abercrombie also thanked Mr. James P. Blanton, the founder of Playcard. Blanton died in 2004.


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