The Times West Virginian

Family Times

August 6, 2012

Outdoor adventure

Exploring state parks fun for Pickens family

FAIRMONT — Working, taking care of two kids and being involved in the Boy Scouts is life for Fairmont resident and single mother Meagen Pickens.

Pickens has worked at the Boy Scout Association Mountaineer Area Council in Fairmont for about three years. She works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday while also working with the Elks Lodge when she can.

“We have meetings on Tuesday nights,” Meagan said. “I go in on the weekends or when I can.”

Pickens has two kids who bring her entertainment and love. Aidan is 10 and Emma is 7.

Adian attends Fairmont Catholic and enjoys the outdoors. He likes to hike, run, be a Boy Scout and go geocaching.

“He’s your pretty typical 10-year-old boy,” Pickens said. “That boy can hike for miles.

“He’s been a Boy Scout for five years, since he was 6. The day he was able to sign up, he was ready to go.”

His scout master, Charlie Seccurro, is also his godfather and Pickens said he’s a great influence for Adian.

As for Emma, who has autism, Pickens said she’s “99.9 percent sure Emma is going to East Park” for school. Pickens picked East Park because the school is getting a program that will help Emma.

“I’ve been working with the special education director of Marion County, trying to figure out what will be the best help,” Pickens explained.

She said Emma is a bright girl who enjoys drawing and loves being outside as much as her older brother. Pickens said being around the Boy Scouts has helped Emma be more social.

“She tried Girl Scouts but it didn’t work out,” Pickens said. “She doesn’t do so well with her peers, but likes the younger kids.”

The three enjoy outdoor activities together when they have time. The family is participating in the West Virginia State Parks VIPP Program (Very Important Parks Person).

The family started the program in October. For the program, the family must visit 15 state parks in West Virginia that are listed as mandatory, and can visit other state parks on the optional list.

“They give you this card,” Pickens said. “You have to go to so many state parks. Once you fill up the card you get a jacket.”

The kids want to complete the list in a year and have visited about eight parks out of the 15 and others on the optional list.

“We’ve been to Kumbrabow, Blackwater, Canaan, and Holly River is next on our list,” Pickens said.

When the family visits a state park, they enjoy going geocaching. They look up what’s there to be found and search for it.

“It gives us something to do while we visit instead of just walking around all day,” Pickens said.

She said both Adian and Emma enjoy finding the hidden treasures, but most of the time Adian lets his sister pick something out.

“She just thinks it’s great,” Pickens said about Emma. “She doesn’t get to eat at McDonald’s a lot because she has a food coloring allergy, so when she finds a McDonald’s toy she’s really excited.”

With geocaching you can take something or leave something. The Pickens leave a wooden coin with a star stamp on the back along with their names.

“It’s good exercise,” Pickens said. “It keeps them busy and our GPS will tell us how many miles we’ve gone.”

When the family isn’t geocaching, hiking or visiting state parks, they enjoy taking walks, riding bikes, playing with their lab collie Finn, or watching movies.

Pickens said their next adventure will take them to Tennessee because Emma wants to go to the Titanic museum.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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