Week 8 – Summer Camp Outreach

This week Jenn (the other IMR LHIP intern) and I went out to a local park to talk about the National Park Service (NPS) and do activities with the kids at a day camp. We were invited to participate by someone working locally with Latinos Outdoors. This is the first outreach of this kind for both of us, so we spent plenty of time researching what games we should play. We wanted to make sure the activities had a connection to nature and the outdoors (beyond the fact that we were playing outside in a park), but also were not too involved or difficult for the kids to understand. We expected a wide age range, as well as a range of experiences at and knowledge of national parks.
There were about 30 kids there, between the ages of 6 and 14 with most of them on the younger side. We started out by introducing ourselves and talking about the NPS. We asked them questions like if they knew about any national parks, and a few of them mentioned Rocky Mountain National Park. I was pleasantly surprised about some of the answers we were getting, since it was a group of kids from the urban Denver area.
They were being a bit goofy, but seemed to understand that the NPS protects important places, many of which are outdoor spaces. At one point a kid asked if the park (a local city park) that we were at was a national park. While we explained that it was not, it was a good opportunity to emphasize the importance of all green, open spaces where they could spend time outside and with their friends and families. Jenn also did a quick talk about the NPS “arrowhead,” talking to the kids about what they thought each part of it stood for.
We talked about what they like to do outdoors with their family, and the kids mentioned biking, hiking, walking, and camping. One girl talked about how she goes camping with her friends, and one boy mentioned how he and his dad go biking in the mountains (and how when he gets too tired, his dad has a device that connects their bikes so he doesn’t have to pedal anymore).
The kids seemed to really enjoy the games. We played a game that we led up to with a talk about fire safety, and then some predator/prey games. We had taken a couple of games that we already knew or had seen online and adapted them for our theme (outdoors/nature), and were really glad to see that it worked.
At the end we handed out Encuentra tu Parque stickers and some arrowhead tattoos, and they picked out an activity book. We had various booklets from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, who were great and gave us their supply of bilingual and Spanish booklets. It was definitely a good idea to find some bilingual and Spanish books to pass out, since we heard most of the kids talking in Spanish to each other. One of the other counselors also commented on how their parents primarily spoke Spanish, so they would be able to share in the activity booklets as well.
We had a great time, but were totally exhausted afterwards.
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