For adults, tenting and camping is an adventure that includes a lot of the things we look for everyday— a return to nature, relaxation and time spent outdoors. But what about the kids? Are they having fun?

At Lake Dardanelle State Park in Russellville, fun is just a backpack away.

P.A.C.K. is the Park Adventure and Creativity Kit, a backpack filled with items guaranteed to expand a child’s experience at Lake Dardanelle. The full kit includes dozens of items—some of which stay with the pack, and some which the child keeps. Each backpack can be rented for $10 for a 24-hour period and $5 each additional day.

Each P.A.C.K. includes the following:

  1. A black and white P.A.C.K. journal to record the adventure (and to read about other adventures from previous backpack wearers)
  2. A sand pail and shovel for digging
  3. A kite in a bag for flying on windy days
  4. A jump rope to jump with, or to use for other rope applications, such as learning to tie knots
  5. A checkerboard handkerchief full of checkers, for those who love to play games
  6. A bug keeper/collector for capturing and inspecting insects
  7. A small net for picking up those insects
  8. Sidewalk chalk for making artworks or for scratching out a hopscotch course
  9. A handkerchief that displays how to tie different knots
  10. A handkerchief that displays the constellations in the sky (a good reference for stargazers)
  11. A ball
  12. A ruler
  13. Bubbles for blowing
  14. A flat rubbing crayon for use in collecting impressions of leaves, engraved things and such
  15. A ball and cup toy
  16. A flashlight—because every kid needs a flashlight when they’re out camping!

The P.A.C.K. also comes with items that the user gets to keep:

  1. A bag of fire starters (wax-dipped wicks to place in the kindling pile of a campfire, to help get it going)
  2. Binoculars, good for bird-watching and viewing boats and wildlife on the lake
  3. Field guides to birds, animals and other flora and fauna you’ll see in the park
  4. Paper bags for collecting leaves, rocks or anything else you find in the woods—or for picking up trash and taking it to a proper receptacle
  5. A pencil
  6. A 3-D insect puzzle
  7. A magnifying glass for inspecting insects, rocks or anything small
  8. A water bottle, which is also a Lake Dardanelle State Park souvenir
  9. And a P.A.C.K. activity guide, which includes information about the park, as well as information on everything from what to do with the items in the pack to how to track animal paw prints and recipes for campfire treats

The P.A.C.K. backpack program has been around over a year, but word has been slow to spread. Still, that’s good news for young explorers who’d like to try out the bags and take them to their campsites for an overnight trip.

To take advantage of the program, just check in at Lake Dardanelle State Park’s Visitor Center and pick one up. You have 24 hours in which to use the backpack and explore, engage and enjoy the park. If on return your child would like some of the bag’s permanent items (those not included in the nine items that the child gets to keep), they can be purchased in the park’s gift shop, along with other games, toys and adventure sets.

If you’d like to learn more about the P.A.C.K. backpack program, contact Lake Dardanelle State Park at (479) 967-5516. The Visitor Center is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. More information about the park can be found at

Spring Break at the Lake

Celebrate the arrival of spring with fun, free events each day March 21-28. Did you know the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center has six aquariums (that’s 8,000 gallons of water!) filled with many of the species found in the lake? You can watch park staff feed the fish at 1:30 p.m. March 21, 24 & 28. Families can also go on guided hikes and bird walks, seine for macro-invertebrates in the water (11 a.m.-noon March 21), look for items in a nature scavenger hunt (6:30-7:30 p.m. March 23), listen to fireside stories (7-8 p.m. March 21), play educational games and more! For a full list of events and to read about more of Lake Dardanelle State Park’s amenities, visit