Family Shark Tooth Hunt with the Youth Activity Center

Hunting for shark teeth is a great family activity for both being outside and learning something new! Our beaches have hundreds and hundreds that regularly wash up and are begging to be found. Lacie and her team at the Youth Activity Center planned a family shark tooth hunt recently, and my boys were so excited to participate!

Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt

There were at least 15 families that came out. Lacie started the night by giving us a time limit of 30 minutes to find as many sharks teeth as possible! Then, afterwards, they lit a bonfire and the kids ate S’mores! Give my kids sugar, and they are HAPPY.

Our family found maybe seven or eight, but there were families that found more than 30! Impressive! Both kids and adults had a great time!

Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt

Fun facts about shark’s teeth

Ever wonder why so many can be found on our beaches? I did a little research. Enjoy a few fun facts about shark’s teeth!

  1. Why are shark teeth black? They are black because the teeth are actually fossilized. It takes a long time for the pearly white tooth to become black/brown. The color of the fossilized teeth is dependent upon the minerals that were present when the tooth was lost. Those minerals then deposit into the porous structure of the teeth, forming a fossil. Colors of teeth will vary based on the minerals deposited in the teeth and how they react with the small amounts of oxygen.
  2. Why are there so many? EACH individual shark can shed more than 30,000 teeth in its lifetime. Whoa! This is because they have multiple rows of teeth that fall out and regrow. Multiply that 30,000+ teeth by every shark of every species that has ever lived over the past tens of thousands of years, and you get a staggering amount of teeth that can be fossilized!
  3. What kind of sharks do they belong to? It was actually hard to find a FL specific guide book. But there are plenty of books on Amazon about finding fossils in general. But I found a picture that sums up most of the types of teeth found on our beaches.

Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt

Tips for finding shark’s teeth

Many suggest to look for sharks teeth after a rainstorm (or hurricane!). The rain or storm will churn up the sediment and reveal shark teeth! When looking for shark teeth, it is easiest to start by training your eyes to find the color black or triangular objects in a sea of broken shells. Shark teeth do come in a range of color, but black is the most common and easiest to spot. Don’t be fooled by lookalikes! A good way to know if you have a tooth is that the crown of the tooth is smooth and shiny and often reflects the sunlight. You should also see the root of the tooth on the opposite end. On some teeth, you may see a serrated edge!

Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt Sawgrass Country Club Shark tooth hunt

The next time you take your family out to hunt for shark’s teeth, be sure to pick up any trash or debris that doesn’t belong. It’s important to instill a love for our beaches and to take care of them!

Want more family activities? Lacie and her crew have a few fun activities planned for December!

Ornament decorating (FREE) at the Youth Activity Center:
Saturday, December 7, 14, and 21 from 10:00am – 12:00pm

Kids’ New Years Eve Bash at the Youth Activity Center:
Tuesday, December 31st from 7:00pm – 12:30am
Cost is $7/$6/$5 – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd child respectively per hour. It’s open to children 18 months and up!

Mickler’s Landing Turtle Patrol Protects Sea Turtles

This is an exciting time of year on our beaches. It is sea turtle nesting season! During the overnight hours, female sea turtles make their way out of the ocean to lay and hide their eggs. Two months later, the baby sea turtles (hatchlings) emerge and crawl down to the water. Their little flippers are trying to get them to the water as quickly as possible to avoid the barrage of predators like birds, crabs, raccoons, and dogs that are waiting for a midnight snack. There are also obstacles like holes dug by beach goers or driftwood that the hatchlings must avoid. Experts say that at best only 1 in 1,000 will make it to adulthood. It’s our responsibility to take care of our beaches to give these turtles the best chance of surviving and thriving.

Micklers Landing Turtle Patrol

Mickler’s Landing Turtle Patrol has been around since the 1980’s and cares deeply about protecting the sea turtles that nest on our beaches. The group is lead by Nancy Condron, a veteran volunteer coordinator of eight years and now the permit holder for the group. Nancy, along with her team of about 47 volunteers, patrol four miles of beach starting at Sawgrass Beach Club and going south to Sea Hammock.

What do the volunteers do?

The primary responsibility of the volunteers is to provide data to FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation) on the nesting numbers and hatchling success of the sea turtle species that frequent our beaches.

Volunteers who are willing to give their time and knowledge are so important. They have been VERY busy this season! As of October 15th, there have been 143 nests total; 136 Loggerhead and 7 Green. Each nest can have more than 100 eggs!

Micklers Landing Turtle Patrol Micklers Landing Turtle Patrol

The volunteers patrol the beach each morning at sunrise during the months of turtle season (May 1 through October 31) looking for new turtle nests and checking on those that have been found and marked. When new nests are located, they determine the species by looking at the tracks, mark them with stakes and tape, and assign the nest a number. Through very gentle and careful digging, the clutch of eggs is located. A single egg is removed and sent to the lab for DNA testing. This allows the nesting patterns of individual sea turtles to be documented and tracked. A mature female turtle may nest up to seven times per season, and by testing the egg, it can be determined where she is nesting and how often. Volunteers also look for false crawls along the beach as well. This is when turtles crawl on the beach but abandon nesting maybe because of outside factors like lights, animals, or people.

Micklers Landing Turtle Patrol

While patrolling the beaches, volunteers also look for signs of emergence from nests that have been marked. They know when an emergence has occurred because there will be a small crater in the middle of the nest as well as hatchling crawl tracks going down to the beach. If they see an emergence, they schedule a nest evaluation for three days later. They want to give any remaining hatchlings enough time to get out of the nest unassisted. At the evaluations, which happen at sunset, they dig up and tally the contents of the nest and provide the data to FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation). Volunteers count the number of hatched and unhatched eggs, and sometimes they find a few live hatchlings that did not make it out of the nest with their siblings.

By following Micker’s Landing Turtle Patrol on Facebook, you can see when the volunteers are doing evaluations and observe the process! I took Will and Wyatt to view an evaluation, and it was so interesting!

Micklers Landing Turtle Patrol

What can we all do to help the sea turtles?

There are three species of sea turtles that nest on our beaches, Loggerheads, Greens, and Leatherbacks. Leatherbacks are listed as endangered. Loggerheads and Greens are both threatened, which means they are at risk of becoming endangered.

Here’s what you can do to protect sea turtles:

  1. Be aware of items that pollute the beach and ocean. For example, sea turtles eat jellyfish, and plastic shopping bags LOOK like jellyfish, so turtles eat the plastic bags and end up dying because they cannot digest them.
  2. Maintain the natural beaches. This means filling in holes, knocking down sand castles, and picking up any debris that could be an obstacle for a hatchling.
  3. Be aware of leash requirements during sea turtle nesting season. Your dog could unknowingly dig up a nest or hurt hatchlings if they are not on a leash.
  4. Respect the nests. Don’t camp out and wait for them to emerge. The nesting and emerging process needs to be as natural as possible because any disruption could adversely affect the emergence process.
  5. Teach the next generation the importance of conservation. Bring your family to observe an evaluation, tell your children and friends about the nests and why they are marked off, or volunteer to help out in some way.

It’s important for us all to know what’s happening on our beaches and do our best to leave them as natural as possible so the turtles can thrive.

XGLOsive Tennis Event was a HUGE Hit with Sawgrass Members!

Ken Veney, Director of Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club, and his team planned an amazing night of glow in the dark tennis with the help of XGLOsive!

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

The company is based here in Florida and travels all over the state putting on unique events like this for organizations. “The glow tennis event was such a fun and exhilarating experience for all levels of players with a slight fun competitive twist to it,” says Lauren Daly. Her and her husband John played on the court with Cory and I.

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

The event took place on Friday, October 4. Set up started mid day, and it was fun to watch the courts transform into a whole different environment. The nets were wrapped, the lines were taped, and covers were placed on all sides of the courts with fun glowing imagery! It looked cool during the day…but when night fell and it was time to turn the black lights on, the crowd went wild!

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

Members like Laura Nicoles raved about how fun it was. She says, “Who needs Friday night lights when you can play tennis in the dark with XGLO! We enjoyed a “glowing” time at Sawgrass Friday night playing tennis with energizing music, glow in the dark balls, pizza, and drinks. It was friendly competition and fun for all ages! Let’s do it again, Sawgrass!”

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

Then it was time to play! The action took place on courts 9 and 10, and members either played from 8-9 or from 9-10. Our tennis pros ran the warm up and games while Jason Cordova, owner and founder of XGLOsive, took the mic and got the crowd going! It was hard to track the ball at first. Our eyes had to adjust to the glowing tennis balls! It was a good thing they used orange dot balls because it made the games more fun! We played a few variations of king of the court, a fast moving two on two game. Overall, it was a beautiful night for tennis, and we all got a great workout in, too!   

XGLOsive Tennis at SawgrassXGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

I asked Ken a few questions about the event, and here are the highlights:

How did you learn about XGLOsive tennis?
Ken: Back in the day I used to do Glow Ball tennis for my juniors as a Halloween event. I would buy glow paint and paint the balls and tape for the lines to get things to glow but it was not an easy task. I heard about this company out of Florida that was doing something along those lines but to an extreme level and that immediately piqued my interest. I reached out to them to see what it was all about, and I was sold! I had them come to Sawgrass a year and a half ago to look at our layout and start the planning, and I’m so glad I did!

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

What made it a great event for Sawgrass members in particular?
Ken: We are such a fun and social club. I am always looking for unique and creative formats to give members unforgettable experiences. Our Triples program has become a staple amongst the members with the music, food, and beer so I really believed XGLOsive Tennis was the next level. When I can change the format to create a twist on our great sport, it is going to create an atmosphere and energy that shows what Sawgrass is all about. That’s what sets us apart from other clubs and makes us who we are.

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

Did the staff like participating?
Ken: Absolutely! The feedback from the staff was so positive because of the feedback they were receiving from the members. These kind of events are a showcase of our program and the court is our stage. We get pumped up to go out there and perform and make sure everyone is having a “smashing good time!” We all feed off each other and that makes each of us better every single day.

XGLOsive Tennis at Sawgrass

So, will we see another XGLOsive event in the future?
Ken: I think we have too! Based on the feedback I have received this would be a marquee event for our tennis program. I take pride in offering opportunities to our members to do things that are not your normal run of the mill programs and events. XGLOsive certainly ticks all the boxes for what I look for and based on the reaction from the membership we definitely served up an Ace!

What did you think, Sawgrass? Do you have other ideas of unique events Ken and his team could plan? Send Ken an email and let him know! His email is: [email protected]

Want more tennis? Here’s a look at a few fun fall events coming up:

  1. Rusty Racquets is a 6-week clinic session designed for beginners, novice players, and individuals returning to tennis. This program will focus on developing proper swing shapes, maintain rallies, and build fundamentals to strengthen tennis skills. The program will run from October 21st to Thursday, November 27th. Contact the pro shop for more details!
  2. Senioritas Tennis tournament is October 18-20.
    Club Championships are November 2-16. You can compete in several areas – mens and womens singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.
  3. Weekly clinics for adults are offered at different times throughout the week including Saturdays!
  4. Weekly clinics for kids are conveniently offered after school Monday through Thursday.

Exciting Changes at the Youth Activity Center!

The Youth Activity Center is constantly coming up with new ideas and fun things for families at Sawgrass. It’s a growing club with more and more families joining.

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Lacie, the Youth Recreation Supervisor, and her staff recognize that kids want to have FUN during Childwatch and Kids Night Out, so they have been working hard over the past year to revamp programming for both. The rates are amazing, even if you are a three-child family. For our family, it beats the average rate of a babysitter!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

In addition, Lacie has listened to us members and scheduled more family activities like camp outs, family shark tooth hunts, and Bingo at the Sandbar just to name a few. Check out the latest Horizons for all the fun fall events coming up!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lacie and asking her about new (and popular) activities at the Youth Activity Center. Here are some highlights:

What are the hours and rates of the Youth Activity Center?
Lacie: Child Watch: Tuesday- Saturday 9am-1pm and Kids Night Out Fridays and Saturdays 5-9pm.

Child Watch Hourly Rate: 1st Child: $6 | 2nd Child: $4.50 | Each Additional Child: $3.50
Kids Night Out Hourly Rate: 1st Child: $6 | 2nd Child: $4.50 | Each Additional Child: $3.50

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Are there any new programs that members need to know about?
Lacie: Over the last year we have been working to enhance the daily activities we offer during Child Watch. Every month has a different theme, and all of our activities relate to that theme in some way. We begin each morning with “circle time” where we go over the day/month, weather, seasons, and practice our ABCs and counting! Throughout the morning our staff facilitates group games, crafts, and some sort of physical activity (think PE games, relay races, obstacle courses, tumbling) that relate to the monthly theme. When the weather is nice, we shuttle the kids to the beach or the fitness center playground to get some fresh air and exercise! Our goal is to offer more than babysitting; we want to create fun educational programming for our youngest members! For information on monthly themes and other activities, you can always visit our Foretees webpage!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

And there’s the Family Tile Project. I’d like to invite any Sawgrass members to come to the Youth Activity Center on Saturday mornings from 9am-1pm to create their tile. We will have tables set up with paints and stencils so your family can design a tile to be mounted in the breezeway between the family and adult pool! No reservations necessary, just show up! We are really excited about how it’s going to turn out!

Lastly, we have begun a Kids MMA program with Sensei Tim Robinson. Students learn the basics of self-defense including punching, kicking, blocking, grappling, tumbling, wrestling, and being able to fight standing up or on the ground. Tim’s program is a blend of many traditional styles including Karate, Taekwondo, Jiu Jitsu, Aikido, Tai Chi, and Wing Chun Kung Fu. We definitely have room for more students, so contact me to sign up!

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Are there any programs for tweens/teenagers?
Lacie: Yes! Our Youth Leadership Coaching Program for kids ages 11-17. Last year we partnered with Dr. Matthew Ohlson from UNF’s Leadership School and created an amazing course to help coach teens on skills and strategies to become effective students and future leaders of tomorrow! It was such a success that we are running it again this Fall. This 8 track program (4 in the fall, 4 in the spring) is held on Monday evenings at the Youth Activity Center, with 2 campus visits to UNF! Students will receive a certification of completion at the end of the year. Not only will participants gain self-confidence and valuable tools for leadership, this program also serves looks great on college applications or job resumes!

What are the new age limits for the Youth Activity Center?
Lacie: We have recently lowered the minimum age of CHILD WATCH to 12 months. We now accept children between the ages of 12 months and 12 years! This does change our staff:child ratio to 1:6 (as per DCF requirements), so sign-ups on Foretees are strongly recommended, especially in the summer months! Kid’s Night Out remains 18 months+.

What if a member needs a babysitter outside of operating hours? Is there a trusted resource that you recommend?
Lacie: We are partnered with an excellent babysitting service called Bumble & Bee. If you ever need a sitter outside our operating hours (or when we close for Family Programming around the club, which is no more than once a month and advertised in advance) we are happy to help you find a sitter through them!

Any teasers about fun family fall-themed events?
Lacie: We just had our Family Bingo Night on the Pavilion which was a huge hit, we will definitely do it again! In October we have our Halloween Themed Kids Night Out, pumpkin carving contest, and our first family shark tooth hunt! In November we have a “Fall Festival” themed KNO, a Family Beach Campfire, and a kid’s Surf Fishing clinic with Chef Dean! Check our our Foretees announcements page or Horizons for more details!

We know your staff works really hard, any specific kuddos you’d like to give?
Lacie: I have been so fortunate with great seasonal and full time staff members since joining here in early 2018. Ashley Miller is my main staff member, and she goes above and beyond anything I ever ask of her. She is reliable, excellent at age-appropriate activity planning, and has great rapport with all the parents and children who come through the Youth Activity Center.

Youth Activity Center at Sawgrass Country Club

Lacie’s goal is to “create meaningful memories for the families at Sawgrass. The programs I offer thrive on feedback from the members. If there is ever anything you’d like to suggest I am open and will do my best to make it happen! Please call or email me any time. Many of the events I have run over the last year have been based on suggestions from our families!”

Lacie is a joy, and she works really hard to give our kiddos the best experiences! Wouldn’t it be great if she got a ton of emails saying “you’re great,” “keep up the good work,” or “we LOVE you!”? I’ll be sending one today, would you consider sending one, too? Her email is [email protected]

Thanks for all you do, Lacie!

Developing Doubles Strategy with Coach Lennon

Tennis at Sawgrass is amazing. The competitive matches, friendly round robins, and team clinics all offer opportunities to improve skills and build relationships with other tennis players.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

I have LOVED learning doubles over the past year and a half! Last season, I played consistently with the same partner, Lindsay Long. By playing together each week, we learned what each others tendencies were, our best shots, court positioning in different situations, and how to encourage each other when we were winning (or losing!).

Now that we’re on the C team, opponents have gotten tougher. They are more consistent and more versed in strategy. So Lindsay and I decided to kick off the season with a lesson together focused on doubles strategy! The timing was great because we DID play together in our match the week we had the lesson.

We probably won’t be playing together every week, but these ended up being skills that we could take with us as we play with other partners.

Doubles Tennis Lesson

Lennon was our coach for the lesson, and he was really helpful! We expressed that we wanted to know how to change our game if the opponents were either better than us or using certain shots over and over to win points. The drills we worked on were designed to help us position ourselves better throughout the match in order to give us the best shot at winning.

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

After the warm up, here are a few things that we worked on specifically:

  1. We started out one up one back working on playing points quickly. He feeds in the ball, we hit the ball to a strategic spot on the court (or try to!). He feeds in the next ball right away to simulate the ball coming right back at us. After eight points, we switched positions. The balls could go to the baseline or net. We went back and forth for several rounds.
  2. Once we got the hang of it, he gave us a new goal. We were to return each ball to only one side of the court, all balls to the deuce side for example. He still fed in eight balls to either baseline or net, but they all had to go to the deuce side across the net. The point of the drill was to target the weaker player on the other side. Most of the time in matches, there is a stronger player, and it’s important to know when to avoid that player!
  3. Then he varied the drill, and we played all the points out with Lennon. We were still aiming for one side of the court. Because he was playing them out with us, they came at us faster. He stressed to us that we needed to recover to a spot on the court after striking the ball. Whether it’s coming to the net, stepping behind the baseline (or just inside the baseline), recover and be ready to split step to get the next ball. If you notice a pattern of play and winners they are hitting over and over again, take those shots away from them by recovering to a different spot on the court if necessary. During our match two days later, we encouraged each other when we saw one another “recovering to a spot” on the court!
  4. Lastly, we worked on serve returns. We see all kinds of serves, loopy, rainbow, fast, slice, you name it. Being confident returning all kinds of serves is important! I want our opponents to know they are not getting free points on serve! We even got to hit serves to Lennon, and practice recovering after the serve!

Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club Tennis at Sawgrass Country Club

Over all, it was a great lesson! We talked about communicating, hitting solid ground stokes (knuckles over the ball!), recovering to get ready for the next shot, and stroke placement to target the weaker player on the other side. I would highly recommend taking a lesson with a partner that you play with often. It will boost your confidence as you play together!

Lennon encouraged us to talk to each other and work on displaying a united front…high five, cheer, whisper between points, and let mistakes and bad calls roll off your back. In the end, we’re not training for Wimbledon! It’s country club tennis, and it’s meant to be FUN!