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One of the great benefits of hosting AmeriCorps members through our TerraCorps program is that it gives land trusts the capacity to take on new projects.  In Mount Grace’s case, AmeriCorps volunteers have helped us participate in the Great American Campout—a nationwide opportunity for families to go camping and learn about the outdoors.  Katy Ziemlak's story and these pictures from the 2017 Campout give the flavor of the event, which will be offered next year thanks to our 2017-18 TerraCorps team.

This year we reached out to families in the area who have never camped before. Out of the families who attended, the majority had not gone camping with their family before. A few families have done backyard camping but said that camping at Skyfields was a nice in-between to see what it would be like for them to go to a campground.

It was great to see the families enjoying a night out in nature. A small moment that stuck out in my mind from the weekend was the morning nature walk. Almost every child attended and all of them were so interested in the wilderness. They asked questions, took turns holding things, and were so absorbed in discovering animals and plants.

There was a moth activity the night before that had a similar response as the nature walk. A volunteer, Lula Field, came and set up a sheet with a light to attract moths. The kids were so intrigued by the small creatures that came out. Lula brought magnifying glasses so that everyone could look a little more closely at them and see how distinct and beautiful each one was. The kids and adults alike were intrigued by the moth activity.

This year’s campout was a true success. I had a lot of fun and saw that the families did as well. It was refreshing to see everyone enjoying this event and already looking forward to next year’s campout.

Katy Ziemlak