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July 16. 2012 10:41PM

Beaver Brook camps puts children in touch with the outdoors


Michelle Wilson, left, poses with her teens from the Adventure Leadership program at Beaver Brook last week. The group learned to make fire and forage for plants, among other activities. (SIMON RIOS PHOTO)

HOLLIS — The Beaver Brook Association, steward of the 2,100 acres of woodland in Hollis, Brookline and Milford, is offering weeklong summer camps this year, giving kids the chance to explore everything from canoeing to acting.

Celeste Barr, education director at Beaver Brook, explained how the camps put kids in touch with nature.

“I'm wondering why more kids aren't entering summer camp, outdoor nature summer camp, and I'm wondering if there's just so many choices today that you can enrich your kid a different way every week of the summer,” she said.

More worrisome is if kids are withdrawing from nature.

Barr said kids instinctively want to play in the mud, but that many aren't given the opportunity to do so. She said some arrive at Beaver Brook and are amazed at the dirt all around them — living in the city, they've never seen so much dirt. With approximately two dozen summer experiences available, Barr said the association hopes to change that dynamic.

Camp instructor Kap Siddal ran the Enchanted Forest camp last week, where kids were assigned the tasks of building dwellings for fairies, gnomes and elves, as well as making miniature food and gardens.

“My goal is to get them out looking for the magic,” Siddal said. “And they're finding it everywhere.”

The camps run from $180 to $220, with discounts for Beaver Brook members.

Leadership Adventures, the most advanced camp, ended last week for kids in grades eight through 10. Sitting underneath Beaver Brook's yurt, a circular building with a wooden frame, the teens talked about their favorite experiences from the week.

One girl said talking with her new friends late into the night during their camp was most meaningful to her. Another said she learned how to make fire with a bow drill, an ancient skill picked up during the weeklong gathering in Hollis.

“I made fire,” she said with a smile. “That was awesome. I'm actually going to go home and make my own bow drill.”

The kids also learned to forage for food, such as Indian cucumber, berries and wintergreen. Most important were the relationships they built — relationships the kids said would amount to more than just being Facebook friends.

More information about Beaver Brook can be found at BeaverBrook.org.

srios@newstote.com


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