Youth Education Coordinator Amanda Carotenuto has hosted outdoor programming in Winchendon with the nature adventure backpacks.
Nature Adventure Backpacks at Fern Glenn
The Nature Adventure Backpack program with the Beals Memorial Library has kicked off nicely since its release in December 2021! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them in action twice now, first in the hands of students participating in the HEAL Winchendon after-school program in December, and more recently on a guided hike at Fern Glenn Conservation Area in February. I was joined by energetic and enthusiastic children (and their equally excited adult) for an exploration of the land using the materials from the backpacks. We started out just by going through each backpack, pocket by pocket, and figuring out what were the most interesting tools that they wanted to use. The easy winners were the magnifying glasses on the compasses and the binoculars, and both were immediately put to use looking at everything near and far. Once we pulled out the scavenger hunt worksheet, we were off on our trek!
We stopped every 10 yards or so to get a closer look at something, which in my mind is the best way to hike. Logs were rolled, ice patterns admired (and later cracked of course), and scavenger hunts hunted. The worksheet we focused on from the backpacks is designed for warmer weather hikes, but even so, we were able to find nearly everything on the scavenger hunt by the end of our hike. Even in the dead of winter, mid-day, we heard bird song! The enthusiasm from the boys was equally met by us adults every time we got to cross a new sighting off our list, and though it was a long and cold hike everyone seemed to have a lot of fun.
If you live in the area and are looking for an exciting activity in the warmer weather, these backpacks are a perfect option! They are designed to be used by people of all ages and experiences: children who love to explore, novice birders, experienced hikers, and anyone in between will find something to use. If you are 18 or older you can check them out at the Beals Memorial Library in Winchendon for a week at a time. I am looking forward to seeing more of these out on the trails!