GRAFTON, Vt.—Research indicates that children’s play has shifted dramatically in the last two decades. Childhood has moved indoor, away from the unstructured outdoor play that many of us remember as a child. The average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day and more than seven hours in front of an electronic screen, according to the National Wildlife Federation.
The Nature Museum in Grafton asserts that contact with and understanding of the natural world is vital to a child’s development and for the future of our planet.
This February, The Nature Museum is offering unique, open-air adventures for youth during winter school vacation. The Nature Museum’s natural science camps are instructive, hands-on experiences that get youngsters outdoors and exercising their minds and bodies. Accredited environmental educators teach lessons that build resiliency skills in a safe and nurturing environment.
Brave Bears Camp for ages 6-9 is slated for Tuesday, February 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wild Walkers Camp, for ages 10-14, will be held on Wednesday, February 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Both camps offer adventure for kids eager to get outside and go exploring.
Brave Bears includes fun, hands-on indoor and outdoor experiences that cultivate a deeper relationship with the natural world. Youth will make new friends while learning about animals that live in Vermont— including their winter adaptations and how humans track them— before embarking on a snowshoeing adventure in the forest and field, collecting clues left in the snow by wild animals. Campers will practice snowshoeing skills through entertaining games and a scavenger hunt.
In the afternoon, special guest Charles Norris-Brown, PhD., social anthropologist, author & illustrator, will read and discuss his recently published book, “Did Tiger Take the Rain?” This inspiring and beautifully written and illustrated tale of a Himalayan land that is experiencing drought features two courageous girls who are seeking an answer to environmental changes. The combination of gorgeous watercolors, a forest adventure, and the notion that children have the ability to act to make life better, creates a vibrant story for Brave Bears to enjoy.
Older children will enjoy Wild Walkers Camp that offers daylong outdoor adventures suited for youth ages 10 to 14.
The Wild Walkers Camp is a partnership between The Nature Museum and Vermont Wilderness School, a Brattleboro-based non-profit. Wild Walkers takes place on Wednesday, February 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the woods and fields around The Nature Museum.
The first session will teach youth how to coal-burn—a method used for making spoons, bowls and even canoes, which dates back to the First People. Skills learned will include safe fire tending, how to manage coal-burning safely and how to use and care for a knife.
Youth will make a “quickie” spoon rather than a full-process coal-burn spoon, which can take several hours to make. Participants, who have their own sheath knife or locking-blade knife, should bring it. If not, the instructor will provide sheath knives that campers can borrow. Skilled instructors from the Vermont Wilderness School and The Nature Museum will guide Wild Walkers in a safe, fun, and respectful experience.
Registration is now open. Register at www.nature-museum.org. In case of inclement weather, this program will be rescheduled for Friday, February 24th.
Please register online for all camps or call (802) 843-2111. Scholarships are available. Please inquire for multiple day or sibling discounts. Kids should bring a hearty bagged snack, lunch, and a water bottle carried in a backpack and wear appropriate winter clothing and gear to winter camps. Upon request, The Nature Museum can loan snowshoes for participants who do not have their own.
Located at 186 Townshend Road in Grafton, Vermont, The Nature Museum is a non-profit museum that offers hands-on natural history exhibits, nature programs for adults and children, plus an annual Fairy House Festival. More information can be found on The Nature Museum Facebook page www.facebook.com/naturemuseumatgrafton and on their website www.nature-museum.org.