16 Aug Junior Rangers embracing Nature
This week I had the opportunity to attend a few Junior Ranger programs being held around Fire Island National Seashore as part of some outreach programs with some of the nearby communities. As the temperatures start to rise over these hot summer months, children often forget that even though they are not in a formal classroom setting, there are tons of learning opportunities available to them, and sometimes they don’t even realize when they have become active in one! One of the popular past-times for children out on Long Island during the summer is summer camps; whether it be a daily camp or an overnight camp, these kids have the opportunity to meet new friends, learn new skills, or hone in on a particular interest of theirs while outside enjoying the warm weather. Some of these camps even organize special day-trips out to various locations to participate in programs and activities, or just to have a fun time. One such location is actually at some of the sites at Fire Island National Seashore, where Park Rangers, Interpretive staff and Interns from various organizations will organize informative, yet enjoyable programs for these children to participate in, while also catering to the needs of that specific camp or group. Being as Fire Island has both informational visitor centers, as well as a beach, it has become a hotspot for day trips from summer camps, scout troops and even some school groups. This week we had about 230 guests from St. Patrick’s Summer Camp, 45 guests from the Patchogue-Medford Library, and hundreds of students and children from various other groups and camps, visit us at Sailors Haven for organized programs, activities as well as some fun in the sun! We also had the pleasure of being invited to visit a private Fire Island Community known as Point Of Woods, where the Counselor of the annual youth summer camp, Fanny Kleisler, invited some of the interpretation staff to do short presentations to each age group. After about two weeks of training, practice and hours of studying, Ranger Kelsey and I were able to do a travelling touch table program, known to the rangers as the Travelling Trunk Program, where we show the children some of the organisms that inhabit Fire Island National Seashore as well as explain their purpose and the importance of protecting the lands, animals and plants that are native to Fire Island. Having the opportunities to work with some of the local children and youth groups surrounding Fire Island, as well as newcomers, is always a rewarding experience. Just being able to answer all their questions and have them learn or experience something new is such a wonderful experience, as nothing compares to the excitement and enthusiasm of a child finding their park, but also maybe even finding out a bit more about themselves.