– Harold Forsyth
The summer of 2012 has been our eighth year of the Green Dragon Nature Camp for youth. Our two student leaders this summer were Naomi Crisp and Sara Boyd who did a wonderful job providing a fun filled and educational program for 141 children from six different local community groups. This year we added visits to the Kentville Research Station Ravine and Noggins Corner Farm with the travel assistance of Kings Transit along with trips to Blomidon Provincial Park, Smiley’s Provincial Park and the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre and Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens. As well, the kids were fascinated by visits to the Acadia Biology and Geology museums. This provided a wealth of diversity in habitats for the children to explore and to gain an appreciation of the nature and environment that surrounds them away from the technology that can sometimes consume too many hours.
Funding for the program this year was generously provided by Kings County Council ($4750), Canada Summer Jobs ($3962), TD Friends of the Environment Foundation ($3500), Michelin ($500) and of course members and the Blomidon Naturalists Society itself.
Report by Naomi Crisp and Sara Boyd
This summer, we had the privilege of working for the Green Dragon Nature Camp, hosted by Blomidon Naturalists Society. 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, Kentville Ravine or Noggins Corner Farm, 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 “protect and respect nature and be a good explorer.”
For six weeks in July and August, we took six different summer camps from around the Valley on these adventures: New Minas Children’s Centre, New Minas Recreation, Wolfville Recreation, Kentville Recreation, Aldershot Recreation, and Apple Tree Landing Daycare. Just past Windsor is Smileys Provincial Park where we would start the day making 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. After lunch we would explore a hollow pine tree in search of porcupine quills. 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.
Noggins Corner Farm provided us with a scenic walk through the woodland trails. We explored the woods and its history with the children as well as learning more about the present wildlife that lives there. The kids were thrilled to listen to the noises that one can only hear inside of our Nova Scotian woodlands. We would spend our afternoon enjoying the play structures provided and sometimes a local treat of apples. Using Kings Transit the camps were able to easily get back and forth from the site.
Kentville Ravine was another beautiful site we were able to add in this year with the help of Kings Transit. Our morning consisted of plummeting down into the wonders of the ravine hidden so closely to town. The kids enjoyed spotting different wild creatures and listening to the cries of the newly born eagles. We would sit and marvel at the waterfall and its beauty. On the way back the kids loved splashing in the brook that went along side the trail. After lunch we spent the afternoon catching and learning about different insects in the field by the picnic area.
We visited KCIC 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. Another rotation was spent at the Geology floor in Huggins Science Hall where the kids could see firsthand some of the oldest rocks in the world, a meteorite and many stunning rocks from our very own Nova Scotia. At the third station, the kids explored the Biology museum with Fred Scott here at Acadia University. This provided a hands-on experience with animals the children may not normally encounter.
Blomidon Provincial Park was another site we explored during the week starting at the picnic grounds at the top of the park, where we played a few games before making our way down the mountain. Along the way we enjoyed looking at different tree formations and the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees. 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 and we are grateful for the experience. 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. This whole experience wouldn’t be possible without the support and commitment from the Blomidon Naturalists Society as well as the bus companies, staff of Acadia University and Noggins Corner Farm. We hope the children have gained a higher appreciation for their surroundings and will continue to explore, protect, and respect nature.