2010 Report on the Green Dragon Young Naturalists Camps

by Harold Forsyth

This summer was the sixth year of our Young Naturalists Program and the biggest and busiest to date, totalling more than 600 kid-days. With this program, the Blomidon Naturalists Society remains committed to providing our future stewards and guardians of the environment access to nature in a fun and informative way.

Many thanks go to NS Health Promotion and Protection ($5,000), Municipality of the County of Kings ($4,000), TD Friends of the Environment ($3,500), Canada Summer Career Placement Program ($3,500), and BNS members for their generous financial support.

This year’s Green Dragon leaders were Victoria Postlethwaite and Naomi Crisp, who did a fantastic job of engaging the children in their natural world. We thank them for their dedication over the summer and wish them every success as they return to their studies.

REPORT FROM VICTORIA POSTLETHWAITE & NAOMI CRISP, GREEN DRAGON LEADERS 2010

This summer, we had the privilege of working for the Green Dragon Nature Camp, hosted by BNS. It was an experience like no other —working outdoors in the unique landscape of the Annapolis Valley with a different group of interested, eager children every week. Each week we went to four different locations — Smileys Provincial Park, Penny’s and Blue Beach, the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, and Blomidon Provincial Park. We began each day with an introduction of the site and said our pledge, to “explore, protect, and share nature.”

For seven weeks in July and August, we took seven different summer camps from around the Valley on these adventures: New Minas Children’s Centre. New Minas Recreation, Wolfville Recreation, Kentville Recreation, Aldershot Recreation, Hantsport Recreation, and Apple Tree Landing Daycare.

In the middle of the Rawdon Hills, just past Windsor, sits Smileys Provincial Park, our first site for exploration. We would start the day exploring a hollow pine tree, which was the home of porcupines. This prompted the immediate search for quills and never disappointed. We then made our way down to the Beaver Dam, sharing cool facts about the beaver and its home, which got the kids excited and eager to explore. They liked feeling the difference between the rush of the river’s current on their feet and the stillness of the beaver’s swimming hole. After lunch, we would make our way down the river, appreciating the life the river contains. Using nets and buckets, the kids were able to catch minnows, water skippers, frogs, beetles, water snakes, and other aquatic creatures, and marvel at their discoveries.

Hidden away just off Bluff Road is Penny’s Beach, where we kicked off day two. We spent the morning searching for Mermaid’s Purses, shells, crickets, crabs, and cool rocks. We walked along the beach, watching how rapidly the tide changes. As the tide retreated, it left a very squishy mud that attracted the kids and often called for a rescue mission of children and their buried shoes. After exploring the lighthouse up on the cliff, we would make our way to Blue Beach, where we would have our lunch. Chris Mansky, the owner of a well-stocked fossil museum, was always ready to help us examine fossils and explain to the children how fossils were formed and what Blue Beach had looked like 350 million years ago. After this talk, the kids were eager to search for their own fossils down on the beach, which we did until the end of the day. No one went home empty-handed; in fact they usually found more fossils then they could carry.

Wednesdays we spent at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens in Wolfville, where we split into three groups and rotated stations throughout the day. One was a tour with the gardeners of the K.C. Irving Centre to learn about the native plants of the Acadian Forest Region and the different habitats within it. There was a games station, where the kids expended energy in nature-themed activities that tested their knowledge of the forest around them. At the third station, the kids explored their senses in the Woodland Trails, where they observed, touched, smelled, and heard the different creatures and aspects of the forest.

On the fourth day we went to Blomidon Provincial Park, starting at the picnic grounds at the top of the park, where we played a few games and split into two groups. One made their way down the trail while the other continued playing games for another 15 minutes, before making their way down as well. The kids enjoyed the sweet taste of the wild strawberries and raspberries, the smell of pine, the view from the lookoff where they could see where we would end up at the end of the day, the strange calls of different birds, and the damp softness of the trees’ moss skirts. At the end of the trail we would enjoy eating lunch on the grass with a view of the ocean. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach, where the kids waded in the ocean searching for shells and crabs or enjoyed the waterfall’s chilly stream. Here, they loved building dams and investigating the brook’s course.

Overall, it has been an amazing summer, full of new experiences and memories. We feel it was a great opportunity for the kids to take a step back and see the world they live in through new eyes. The Perry Rand bus driver, John, was very helpful and patient with the kids. This whole experience wouldn’t be possible without the support and commitment from the Blomidon Naturalists Society. We hope the children have gained a higher appreciation for their surroundings and continue to explore, protect, and share nature.