I start with a walk down the White Pine trail, past Peeper Pond, and then finally reach the Sugarhouse Parking Lot where I wait for the school bus. Once the bus arrives, eight smiling and excited kiddos rush off the bus bursting with anticipation to hear what adventure awaits them today.
Over the past few years of leading an afterschool group at the Audubon Center, I realized how important it is for kids to have the chance to go outside after a long day in school. Our typical routine (on a nice weather day) is: get off the bus, walk down to the picnic tables for snack, free play in the field, hike somewhere on the property, spend some time exploring one area (Beaver Pond, Huntington River, Hires trail, etc.), hike up to the barn, free play, and finally pick up!
At the last afterschool session we had, we were greeted with fresh snow, which only could mean one thing: building snow forts! When they started to make the fort, they all decided to give me a lesson on snow. They taught me why this snow was so good for forts, why the snow was so sticky, and how to make a good fort. I also learned that for a proper fort you need dense snow, thick walls, a supportive roof that won’t cave in, a hole that is just big enough for you to get in and out of, and enough space to curl up to keep the heat in. All of the students worked together, without any guidance from me, to build a wonderful snow fort. They also made some snow people that had lots of character too.
I am always surprised when our two hours are up. I guess what they say is true, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” One things that guarantees a smile on my face is the moment at pick up time, when they turn to their parents and ask to stay longer because they don’t want to leave. It reassures me that having this experiences and space is an extremely positive thing.