Suz asked me to share my blog post about starting a Family Nature Club. I started our club back in April 2010 and try to keep track of outings on NaturePlayClub.org (although I have a little catching up to do).
I thought I'd also share my post about our most recent club outing where we got on bikes for our adventure to Robber's Cave.
What have been some of the most popular outings for your nature club? I'd love to collect some ideas for next year.
On the family hikes I lead for the Calgary Outdoor Recreation Association, I've been amazed at how much more the kids can handle than I thought. I started out with short, flat hikes, but the 5 to 11 year olds had no problem when we progressed to longer hikes with significant elevation gain. They even seemed to prefer them. Now I take them on trips up to 10 km roundtrip with elevation gains of 400m. I've found that most "adult" trails have stops midway that make great destinations for kids: big rocks to climb on or mountain streams to dam up or lakes to explore for fairy shrimp. In October I took adults up to Tryst Lake to see the larches changing color, but the lake was socked in and we could just make out the golden larches through the fog (top photo). The next week I led some families to Tryst Lake, and most of the larches had lost their needles. One of the kids pulled a glass jar out from somewhere and scooped up a fairy shrimp (like an over-sized sea monkey) out of this mountain lake at the tree line in the Rocky Mountains. An hour of gathering and throwing back sea monkeys ensued. I'd had no idea fairy or any other shrimp lived in the Rockies. What the adults hadn't even looked for, the kids intuitively seemed to know were there.
This summer I'm planning an easy scramble or two so the kids can say they climbed a mountain. Instead of assuming they can't handle some of the tougher things, I'm going to let them set the own limits (within reason of course!).
Oh, Ken! That's awesome! I love letting kids lead the way and you are even letting them set their own limits. The best part is that you gave them TIME to catch critters even when it wasn't on the itinerary. The true spirit of outdoor adventure with the kiddos.
What an absolutely beautiful spot! Thank you so much for sharing your photos and experiences.