Walking Workshops

Experts tell us the first step in becoming an environmentalist is noticing what nature offers. Such observation often leads to a desire and commitment to conserve and protect the natural world.

Get out and explore nature.

Walking or hiking through the woods is a regular part of camp. However, many times staff and campers merely walk along the trail without really noticing what is around them. They overlook the sounds, sights, textures and diversity of the ecosystem.

There are several interesting activities that can be done while walking through the woodlands. Simple supplies are needed, so it will take only a few minutes to collect them. Or you can prepare a Woodland Walk Kit ahead of time for supplies, and index cards with directions for the activities.

Groups can stop along the way and do the activities together, or small groups can be assigned particular activities during the entire hike. Campers can choose one or more of the following activities:

1. Look For Shapes

Supplies: Index cards and pencils

Ahead of time: Draw a circle, square, triangle, heart, straight line and rectangle on separate cards. Pass out the cards to campers before hike begins.

Assignment: Look at the shape on the card and find it in nature. Invite other members of the group to look at what you find. Write down your findings on the card with the corresponding shape.

Conversation: What did you see that you never noticed before?

2. Look For Colors

Supplies: Paint strips–the type you get in paint stores with sample colors

Ahead of time: Pass out the color strips to campers. You can have them work in pairs to use one color strip.

Assignment: Look for colors in nature that match the color strip. Keep a record of what you find. You can collect any samples on the ground, but if the color is on a living plant, you can pick it only if there are six remaining after you have done so.

Conversation: What surprised you most? What’s your favorite color in nature?

3. Take A Wildflower Hike

Supplies: Wildflower field guide

Ahead of time: Find out from the camp director or nature director what types of wildflowers are in bloom and where to find them.

Assignment: Stop at any wildflower, observe it, and try to figure out how it grows, how it produces seeds, and what type of soil it grows in. Use the field guide to identify the flower. You can pick one if there are at least six blooms left.

Conversation: How are the flowers alike? How are they different?

4. Create Rubbings

Supplies: Paper, crayons or charcoal

Ahead of time: Try your hand at this before the hike, so you can help campers if needed.

Assignment: Search for trees, rocks and logs that have a variety of textures. Put the paper over the surface of the tree, rock or log, hold the charcoal or crayon at an angle, and rub over the paper so that the unique pattern is transferred to the paper.

Conversation: What did you discover by doing these rubbings?

5. Listen For Sounds

Supplies: Paper and pencil for each camper, bird field guide

Ahead of time: Find out what types of birds are native to the woods around camp.

Assignment: Find a place to sit in the woods a slight distance from others, and be as quiet as possible. Close your eyes and listen. When you hear a sound, put a mark on the paper showing what direction the sound comes from. Then see if you can find the source of the sound. If you see a bird making the sound, use the field guide to determine what it is.

Conversation: What was your favorite sound and why?

6. Examine The Ground

Supplies: Yarn and scissors

Ahead of time: Cut the yarn into 15-inch pieces, one for every two campers.

Assignment: Move off the trail, and make a square or circle on the ground with the yarn. Study what you find within the square or circle. What lives there? What is the soil like? What grows there? Use a stick and dig into the ground a little. What do you see?

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