This past week (July 16th-20th) was one of the greatest experiences I have had since coming to Nevada last September. I was able to watch a group of strangers come together over the course of team building activities and games to become a cohesive team, expanding their interest and knowledge of the outdoors. Their enthusiasm to be outdoors and to simply explore the world around them reminds me of something Enos Mills (often referred to as “Father of Rocky Mountain National Park”) once said:
“Often, the chief incentive that starts a child toward the acquiring of an education is interest in this fairyland of Nature. Interest is the highroad to education. Interest the mind and it will grow like a garden."
It is inspiring to see children, in this age of technology and constant electronic connection, to be interested in picking up rocks in a creek and studying the insects living there. No words I know can wholly describe the feeling at hearing their laughter and shouts of excitement over a new discovery.
Do you remember what it was like exploring as a child?
If you had asked me this question last week at this time I would have responded with “I kind of remember….it’s a little fuzzy. I remember I had fun though.” After witnessing the campers exploring it brought me back to my childhood and I began remembering things; remembering the feeling of the cool creek water on my grandparent’s farm, the sound of a thousand insects singing, the rustling of large oak leaves, the smell of grass and earth, and a pure sense of place. I was filled with a sense of belonging, a sense of adventure.
Summer camps are always filled with fun, games, songs, and new experiences, but encounters like the ones listed above are what I live for as a Naturalist. These are the experiences get campers to start asking questions, start wanting to know more and more and more and more…
These experiences help spark the imagination and ignite the desire to learn, not just about the natural world, but about life.Join the experience. Take a leaf out of our children’s books: Get out and explore.