Compass Early Learning and Care and Millbrook Valley Trails hosted an evening walk for preschoolers, their families, and educators on April 24, 2018.
Compass educator Norma Curtis rallied 36 eager walkers from childcare campuses in 3 adjoining counties. For many it was their first visit to Millbrook. And for several Cavan-Monaghan families, it was their first time on our trails. It won’t be their last!
The themes for the evening were based on the Compass philosophy of natural early years learning and the inspiring full spectrum ages and stages Pathway to Stewardship and Kinship: Raising Healthy Children for a Healthy Planet document developed and piloted in Peterborough City and area. See www.campkawartha.ca/pathway-to- stewardship for the full online guidelines and resources for parents and teachers. The emphasis at the pre-school level is on child-focused curiosity and exploration, positive experiences with animals, and engagement of all the senses.
Snacks were provided for the pre-dinner hour. We gathered first in the Community Garden and Orchard, where a local family had already double dug their garden plot, letting us see and hold the rich soil and the pretty pink worms. We met Clifford the Big Red Dogwood. Then we stopped and listened to all the songbirds and geese and ducks by the pond. We felt the wonderful wrinkled bark on the big willow tree and saw the first buds forming on nearby shrubs. We learned that trees have families. We saw a beautiful black bird with red shoulders and heard its distinctive call in the cattails. We found out how smart crows are.
Little rubber-booted legs pumped along the bridges and boardwalks carrying us into open spaces, and the spring velvet green mossiness of cedar, oak and hemlock forest. We learned that hemlocks and yellow birch often grow perched on logs and that sometimes after the log rots away a lovely “cave” is left to enchant small children. The warm light rain carried all kinds of promising spring smells to little noses closer to the ground. One family’s friendly bulldogs, Gamble and Bella, were smiling on their leashes.
We stepped over roots and springs and mud and ran our hands over every texture within reach. We smelled cedar and rotting wood and learned that some animals make homes in dead trees. We saw different kinds of woodpecker holes. We also saw a farmer’s corn field at the Lookout. And we learned that we stay on the trail and leave only footprints, take only memories.
We all had a fabulous time and still had energy left over after climbing up Medd Mountain and down to swing and slide at the playground at the Old School! A perfect way to celebrate Earth Day!
By Maureen McDonald