June 4, 2007

Young Nature Explorers

We had our second meeting of our Young Nature Explorers Club and it was great! We meet at a nearby lake and walked the trail around it at a leisurely pace with the kids stopping to explore whatever interested them at the time. We had another good sized group with over 30 kids there ranging in age from infants in strollers to around 9, with a good number of moms to keep an eye on the kids.

We had perfect weather and a nice trail to walk. The kids kept different paces, some moving through quickly, others taking their time, some stopping to sketch or examine a bug that no one else was interested in. We had moms in the front and moms in the back to keep the kids together and then everyone else kind of floated in the middle answering kids questions and taking time to visit with other moms.

The kids found a lot of great things from damsel flies, dragonflies, lots of caterpillars, worms, moths, slugs, spiders, and a wide variety of bugs we were unsure of. We saw fish, ducks, birds and all the usual. One girl even found a beautiful hawk feather!

Ciaran was disappointed that we did not find any frogs at this time but seemed to enjoy himself overall as he loves being out in nature and was the insipiration for the group. Rhia was happy to spend time with her friends and very excited for the monarch caterpillar she found. Sirah was having a fussy day. Thankfully someone lent me a stroller and several moms and kids helped out with pushing her and keeping an eye on her when I was leading a group off down a dirt trail or trying to answer a question about what something was. Thank you ladies for your help!!!

This really is an easy activity to organize for a group. Just pick an outdoor location and walk around it - letting the kids do the rest. They needed very little encouragement or direction. Occasionally one of us would point something out or ask a question to get them started but for the most part they did what they naturally want to do - explore. We encouraged families to bring their own supplies and some items that were used today were magnifying glasses, butterfly nets, bug vacuum, insect cages, nature notebooks and a sea scope. I chose not to bring my binoculars and I think that was wise this group moves too fast really for bird watching which requires more patience. We forgot our bug spray but another family was kind enough to share which my girls were thankfully for. Overall the group was great about sharing and taking turns with one another.

Our family really enjoyed ourselves and it seemed like everyone who came enjoyed themselves, especially the kids. We ended our walk at a nearby playground and several families also brought lunch so the kids played together for a bit before everyone headed home in time to get younger siblings home for naps. A great way to spend a cool summer morning.

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