Families Can Grow Through Counseling


Published:

"Johnny and Jenny sitting in a tree: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage!"

Sweet dreams of childhood are simple, but the reality is being married and raising children often is difficult. What begins as a vision of the perfect family living in the perfect house surrounded by a white picket fence can dissolve into arguments, busyness and chaos. As wonderful as it is, family life isn't always pretty — and it certainly isn't perfect.

The start of a new year is a good time to take stock of the family's emotional health. Is someone in a slump? Is there unresolved tension? Is a referee needed to help resolve the "issue" that keeps cropping up?

Debunking the shame

I've been married for 28 years and my husband and I have survived many stressors: new jobs, relocation, infant death, car accidents, cancer, teen angst, financial struggles and elder care/hospice for aging parents.

One of the main ingredients of the glue that has held our marriage together is counseling. We've been in and out of many therapists' offices — yes, complete with couches and boxes of tissue all around — but we have learned a lot and grown in our relationship as we've traveled this journey called life together.

"Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness," says Shannon Crystal, a Charlotte mother of two teens, clinical social worker and counselor with Novant Health. She adds that for both adults and children, realizing the value of expressing emotions/feelings, practicing communication skills, and learning coping skills for all of life's ups and downs is a huge benefit for marriages and families — even healthy ones.

Paul Krasner, a psychologist with Psychological Health Associates in Cary, refers to the lifespan of a family as a developmental process. Just as bruises, sore throats and sprains need tending to from time to time, so does a family's emotional and psychological health.

"A trained mediator has objectivity," Krasner says. "He or she is emotionally removed and can help problem-solve as issues come up."

Therein lies the key: someone who is an objective third party. Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine, makes this point to CEOs and professional athletes, and it speaks to families, as well. Hardy says it takes someone outside the situation to observe, identify, prod and counsel to bring awareness to adjustments that need to be made.

"If you want to take your life to the next level, you ... want to seek out the best advisors and coaches to help get you there," he says.

Adapting and communicating

Most people agree with the famous quote about change being the only constant in life. And, from the newlywed years to the grandparenting years, family life is full of change. Being flexible and able to adapt is important, says Carolina Castaños, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Greensboro.

Early in a marriage, and often when babies come on the scene, issues can arise about finances, meddling in-laws and the division of household chores. Bringing an infant home changes a couple's life dramatically, as partners establish new roles and focus attention on the new baby.

Beth, a Chapel Hill mom of three girls ranging in age from 9 months to 4 years, says she sought help when her husband finally broke down and admitted jealousy over their "girl time." She says the counselor they met with helped him grieve over not having any sons, and she coached them through making some adjustments to their weekends, so Dad and the girls could spend more time together.

Fast-forward to the middle years. The kids are in elementary and middle school, the family calendar is void of white space, and Mom's and Dad's jobs are more demanding. Some people refer to this time as "the tired years" because romance can wane and weariness can set in as myriad outside activities and influences tug family members in multiple directions.

Castaños says this is when couples often drift apart. "Patterns are established, and cycles can get negative," she explains. In her practice, Castaños not only works with families on understanding family dynamics, learning effective communication skills, managing stress and resolving conflict, she also goes deeper and gets to the underlying emotions.

Parenting through the teen years is about nothing but change. As teenagers grow more independent and seek to take control of their lives, parents often feel anxious, fearful and lonely. The teen who spends 80 percent of his or her day listening to music, talking on the phone or texting friends to make plans, also can be very lonely.

"Children today are faced with so many 'adult' things they aren't ready (developmentally) to deal with," Crystal says. "Having the listening ear of another adult who's trained to help adolescents is important for teens who need to express their feelings."

Trust, too, is a major issue among parents and teens, because teenage peers are extremely influential, and teens who drive tend to spend most of their time outside the home. Cultures often collide, and family upheaval ensues.

"Whether problems [are] at school or problems [are] at home, it isn't about 'fixing' the child," Castaños says. "Parents need to be involved." And if poor communication among family members has carried into the teen years, arguments are inevitable.

"A counselor who isn't emotionally involved can help everyone have a voice and be heard," says Jennifer, a Charlotte mom of two boys. "Parents are too close to the situation. Teens want it their way. It isn't about winning or losing, but breaking the cycle of that never-ending argument everyone gets stuck on."

Dealing so there's healing

Krasner advises families to be proactive, rather than reactive. "Head off potential problems, learn to understand one another better, and get unstuck instead of spinning your wheels so you can move forward," he says.

Married for 38 years and the father of three grown children, Krasner says he takes a special approach when dealing with men and boys, who generally are reluctant to talk with a counselor and tend to withdraw.

"I use the term 'coaching,'" he says, noting sessions are more like coming up with a game plan. "I'm someone who can provide ideas, be a sounding board and help with solutions."

When a family is breaking down, there isn't a lot of effective communication going on. Men tend to distract themselves with work or withdraw into the television; women process their feelings by talking to family members and friends.

"Girlfriends can make you feel good, but that's not solving the problem," Castaños says. Moms don't go see their neighbor for a serious bump on the head or take their child to their "BFF" to get stitches. Castaños says the health of our emotions and relationships also deserves the same professional treatment.

"Deal with the concerns, or they only will get worse," she advises. "It's common to view 'issues' as weaknesses, but there's strength in seeking help ... in choosing to heal."  n

Lee McCracken is a Charlotte area freelance writer and editor.

How counseling helps

Parents and children can benefit from the advice or counsel of a trained professional by:

  • Being fully heard
  • Stopping to fully listen to another, or step into another's shoes
  • Understanding the dynamics of the relationship
  • Discovering old patterns and roles in conflict
  •  Learning effective communication skills and how to fight fair
  • Gaining tools to manage stress

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October 2019

Since the 1850s, North Carolina farmers have been going to the State Fair to learn about ways to improve their farming practices. Discover the origins of the State Fair and the history behind some...

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4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Cost: See website for fees

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Southpoint Mall and American Tobacco Trail
6910 Fayeteville Rd
Durham, NC  27713
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Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
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Carmichael Gymnasium
2611 Cates Ave.
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Cost: Free

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Kirby Horton Hall, Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
Contact Name: Mickaella Guarascio
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Compass Rose Brewery
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Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
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Durham Central Park Pavilion
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

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, NC


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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


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Join a naturalist for a re-energizing walk in the forest. This is a hike to immerse ourselves in nature. We will stop and talk about plants when it is interesting for the group. Note that, as a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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There is more to the “ring-tailed bandit” than meets the eye! Discover the mysteries behind this animal, including what their favorite foods are and their unique adaptations. Make a mask of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
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Did you know young raccoons are called kits? Learn all about these ring-tailed mammals through hands-on discovery, stories, and a fun craft! Then learn how to walk like a raccoon and search for the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
View map »


Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


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Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Assist with our habitat box monitoring. Tasks will vary depending on what needs attention and may include: cleaning or repairing habitat boxes or installing new ones, monitoring our current...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

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For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Trick or Treat in Downtown is a Free annual Halloween event sponsored by Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association and participating Downtown Businesses. Held from 2-5pm, families are invited to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Fuquay-Varina
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526


Sponsor: Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association
Telephone: 919-552-0848
Contact Name: Rachel Cornett
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Celebrate the fall season at the Garden with a fun-filled evening of hands-on nature activities! Meet green monsters, craft a magic wand and leaf critter, tackle the spider web obstacle course,...

Cost: $5 per person; children 2 & under FREE

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
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Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
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Just as you are getting sleepy and letting go of a yawn, many of the wetland’s inhabitants are stretching and getting ready for their “day.” We’ll learn which animals in the wetland are...

Cost: $5 per family

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Walnut Creek Wetland Park
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Telephone: 919-996-2760
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
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Cost: $35

Where:
Kidzu Children's Museum
201 S. Estes Drive
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Sponsor: Kidzu Children's Museum
Telephone: 919-933-1455
Contact Name: Sabrina Varney
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This event is very popular, and spots fill up fast so make sure to reserve your spot in advance.  In the heart of a zombie apocalypse at TreeRunner, the park has been quarantined as a large...

Cost: Adults & Kids Over 14 years of age:$44; Kids 13 and under: $39

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TreeRunner Raleigh
12804 Norwood Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27613
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Telephone: 919-410-7347
Contact Name: TreeRunner
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N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For years, scientists have worked to understand the changes that occur in trees and other plants during autumn. Although many details remain unclear, we do know enough to explain the basics of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Families explore different school and calendar options in the Wake County Public School System.

Cost: Free

Where:
Panther Creek High School
6770 McCrimmon Pkwy.
Cary, NC  27519
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Pittsboro comes alive with arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Pittsboro
, NC  27312


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The local community is invited to the CORRAL Riding Academy’s CORRAL Classic to celebrate the young women of CORRAL as they give riding demonstrations, meet CORRAL’s horses and goats at...

Cost: Free

Where:
CORRAL Riding Academy
3620 Kildaire Farm Rd
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: CORRAL Riding Academy
Telephone: 919.355.2090
Contact Name: Abby Shea
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Food trucks, a kids costume contest, arts and crafts vendors and more light up Main Street in Rolesville.

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street
Rolesville, NC  27571


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Cost: Free

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Sugg Farm at Bass Lake Park
2401 Grigsby Ave.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Calling all walkers, runners and anyone who wants to have fun at the beautiful Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh and help us celebrate 40 years of prevention. Join the staff of PCANC and the triangle...

Cost: $30 Individual/$70 for Families

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park
2105 Umstead Dr
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy a guided tour of the trees, shrubs and flowers that adorn the park, followed by an art activity using plant materials collected during the tour. All ages and abilities welcome. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kids Together Playground
111 Thurston Dr.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 & 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (60+ yrs), $3/Child (7-16yrs), Free/Child (6yrs & younger)

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675

More information

Come in costume for Halloween family fun at the 𝗧𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝗿 𝗧𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗦𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗱𝗮𝘆,...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
Triangle Town Center
5959 Triangle Blvd
#206
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »

More information

Learn basic canoeing skills and a bit about the millpond's history, then head out to explore the pond's many features as seen only from the water. Canoes, paddles, and life jackets are provided,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

Where:
Wendell Falls
320 Vintage Point Lane
Wendell, NC  27591
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Sponsor: Wendell Falls
Telephone: 919-437-4043
Contact Name: Cherith Andes
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Cost: $10/person. Free for ages 9 and younger

Where:
Horse and Buddy Therapeutic Riding Program
4728 Old U.S. Hwy. 1
New Hill, NC  27562
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Search wetlands and forests for birds. Ages 13-15. Register online. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Hemlock Bluffs/Stevens Nature Center
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

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Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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Cost: Free

Where:
Nash Square Park
200 S. McDowell St
Raleigh , NC  27601
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Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

N.C. By Train and Amtrak are making it easier than ever for families to get to the N.C. State Fair through a special stop right at the fairgrounds in Raleigh from Friday, Oct. 18 through Sunday,...

Cost: See website for fees; prices vary based on pick-up location

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

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