April 1st, 2017

50th Anniversary Family Reunion

Sweetwater Creek State Park - Lithia Springs

We're getting the family back together! On April 1st, the Georgia Conservancy invites you to our 50th Anniversary Family Reunion and Celebration at Sweetwater Creek State Park.

Join us for a day of outdoor recreation, education, and all-around-fun for Georgia Conservancy members, friends and those who have just heard of the work that we do. Thanks to REI and Georgia State Parks, we will host a 5k / 10k, activities, games and free hourly afternoon hikes.

The theme for our 50th Anniversary is "Our Past is Your Present", helping to underscore the idea that conservation isn't an accident. The places that we love to hike, paddle and explore today are places that someone in the past fought hard to protect. At Sweetwater Creek State Park, that someone was The Georgia Conservancy.

April 1 - 8:00 a.M. - 11:00 a.m. 

REI and Georgia Conservancy 5k / 10k

"Back in time" race celebrates our 50th Anniversary thanks to REI Outdoor School.

Join REI and the Georgia Conservancy for a unique trail race held at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Whether you're looking to run your first trail race or hoping to hit a personal best, this fun, light-hearted race will help you set your pace! Here's how it works: submit your finish time in advance, and the winner is determined by the runner who is "Back in Time" closest to their prediction. Downside: this means no watches, no headphones, no GPS units, no timing devices of any kind are allowed. Upside: there will be prizes! Categories will be the top 3 guesses in women's and men's categories.

All runners will receive a free Georgia Conservancy 50th Anniversary t-shirt. 100% of proceeds from this event will benefit the Georgia Conservancy. Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m. at the interpretive center / park office at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Georgia State Parks annual pass or $5 parking fee required for parking. 

$25 per person - includes 50th Anniversary Georgia Conservancy shirt!

REI Outdoor School Classes

A selection of top-notch outdoor recreation classes, hosted at Sweetwater Creek State Park, provided for our most important members. For free. Happy 50th Anniversary from us to you!

STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDing at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Come learn everything you need to know to get started in the exciting sport of Stand-Up Paddleboarding - in the relaxed and serene setting of Sweetwater Creek State Park's George H. Sparks Reservoir. SUP offers a great total body workout and is a great activity for lakes, rivers and the ocean. In this class, you'll learn the proper stance for balance and control, essential paddle strokes and turning techniques, as well as how to choose the right board and paddle. Courses will be held on protected water, and no experience is necessary. Come with us to learn this hybrid of surfing and paddling and find out how to walk on water!

  • To become familiar with SUP, equipment and proper clothing to safely and comfortably pursue SUP
  • To learn effective paddling skills, balance, positioning, movement and falling/recovery techniques
  • Introduce the rewarding aspects of SUP by highlighting the benefits, some places to paddle and the various activities that take you onto the water, with an emphasis on respect for the marine/aquatic environment

KAYAKing at Sweetwater Creek State Park

Taking place on the calm waters of the George H. Sparks Reservoir at Sweetwater Creek State Park, this class will introduce students to the basics of paddling a kayak in a mild setting and at a relaxed pace. Students will learn about kayaks, paddles, gear and clothing before learning to launch and being introduced to the basic paddle strokes. This class is a great way for those considering kayaking to try it out.

  • Experience on-the-water instruction in kayaks
  • Learn about basic kayak gear and clothing selection
  • Learn basic kayak stroke techniques including forward, sweep, reverse and draw stroke techniques


The best way to start the day: a beautiful hike through the grassy fields and rolling hills of Sweetwater Creek State Park ending with a brief beginner level yoga class led by REI instructors. This is a beautiful, family friendly way to start your Saturday. 

  • Offer interactive opportunities to take your exercise program into the outdoors
  • Combine traditional outdoor fitness activities with strength building exercises for increased performance
  • Change up your routine to include exercise and activity utilizing resources found in the outdoors


Tired of always eating the same old camp food? Heading out for your first camping or hiking trip and not sure what to pack? In this hands-on field seminar, REI Outdoor School instructors will teach you how to build a safe, efficient camp kitchen, design a menu, and prepare nutritious, tasty meals that will delight your campers and elevate your wilderness experiences! Learn about proper food handling and sanitation techniques and tips on preparing and storing your food to minimize cleanup. We will discuss what stove and fuel types are best for your needs, then we will prepare and cook a shared meal on a variety of stoves. We'll be sampling ultra-convenient freeze-dried meals, along with some of our staff's favorite camp recipes from a mix of dried and fresh ingredients that are sure to please. All stoves, kitchen materials, and food ingredients provided (with options for both vegetarians and meat eaters).

  • Strategies for healthy, light weight, and easy to prepare meals. Learn to use camp stoves safely. Practice hands-on cooking during class. Applicable skills suitable for backpackers and car campers alike.


During this field outing, our instructors will help you understand the information provided on your map, the proper use of your compass and how to put the two together while planning your trip and on the trail. We will cover the tricks of the trade relating to back country navigation as we apply our knowledge on the trail establishing a route, navigating the route and making necessary adjustments in the field.

  • Learn how to read topographic lines and other basic features on a map
  • Learn how to orient a map to match the environment both with and without a compass
  • Learn basic compass features and how to utilize the map with a compass
  • Learn how to plot your current position on your map
  • Use a map & compass to navigate to new locations
  • Build confidence in your navigation skills

Take a hike with the Georgia Conservancy

Free hikes, every hour on the hour

When the teams from the Georgia Conservancy and Georgia State Parks get together - great things happen. On April 1st, join us for special hourly hikes hosted by GC and GSP departing from this interpretive center / park office at Sweetwater Creek State Park starting at 2:00 p.m. and lasting until sundown. The last hike will be a candlelit hike to the Manchester Mill ruins at Sweetwater Creek. 

Hikes are free, open to the public and will feature local history and natural history lessons. No reservations needed, just rally up at the interpretive center. Georgia State Parks annual pass or $5 parking fee required for parking.

And just wait until you hear what special treat is waiting on you at the historic mill ruins . . . 


Free Jake's Ice Cream! 

No April Fools joke here. 

A free scoop of ice cream for every single visitor to Sweetwater Creek State Park - now that's how you celebrate your 50th birthday in style. Thanks to our incredible partners from Jake's Ice Cream, every visitor who makes it to the historic mill ruins at Sweetwater Creek State Park, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., will receive a free scoop of ice cream in honor of The Georgia Conservancy. Happy birthday to us! 

Why Sweetwater?

On a cold February day in 1967, the Georgia Conservancy was founded at the Manchester Mill ruins on the banks of Sweetwater Creek. The first item on the agenda: protect this land and open it to all. Thanks to the Georgia Conservancy leadership, the State of Georgia, and many men and women in Douglas County and around the state, Sweetwater Creek was protected and a new State Park was born!

The Georgia Conservancy played an instrumental role in these efforts fifty years ago, and that work impacts the present day and continues to enrich the lives of people who cherish Sweetwater Creek State Park.

If you have any questions regarding the Georgia Conservancy Family Reunion, please contact Georgia Conservancy Senior Director of Development and Marketing Bryan Schroeder at bschroeder@gaconservancy.org