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August 31. 2013 3:04AM

Rob Burbank's Outdoors with the AMC: Bell-ringing in the mountains; getting kids outdoors


 

Crew members from the Appalachian Mountain Club's Lakes of the Clouds Hut joined with crew from Mt. Washington State Park and the Mt. Washington Observatory on the Northeast's highest peak last week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Simultaneously, they joined with citizens across the state and the nation with a bell-ringing observance at 3 p.m. that day.

The King Center coordinated the bell-ringing events, commemorating the anniversary nationwide Wednesday in which organizations and individuals were encouraged to participate.

At least 27 related observances were scheduled in the state. The bell-ringing seemed especially pertinent in the Granite State, as the speech notes " ... let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire . From every mountainside, let freedom ring."

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech had a profound impact on our nation, and we are honored to join others across New Hampshire and the nation on this important anniversary with a bell-ringing to help, in Dr. King's words, 'let freedom ring,'" said AMC President John D. Judge.

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The Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire has slated several free public screenings of "Mother Nature's Child: Growing Outdoors in the Media Age" in North Country towns over the next several weeks.

The film explores the impact of nature and outdoor exploration in childhood development and addresses challenges in getting kids outdoors in what has become a plugged-in, digital-media-focused world. The phenomenon of "nature-deficit disorder" is also examined. A discussion aimed at finding ways to help children spend more time in the outdoors is set to follow each screening.

"This is a collaborative effort to get people talking about this," said Frumie Selchen, executive director of the Arts Association of Northern New Hampshire. She said nature is a source of inspiration for artists and noted, "We love the idea that film is a mechanism to get the message out."

The film and discussion series is presented through a partnership of the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Children in Nature Coalition, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and AMC.

Chris Thayer, AMC's director of North Country programs and outreach, noted getting kids outdoors is one of AMC's five strategic priorities that are part of its organizational vision for the next decade (Vision 2020). "We're pleased to join with our colleagues in the North Country to help further the public discussion on what we can all do to help children make a meaningful connection with the outdoors," he said.

Screenings are slated for the Rialto Theatre in Lancaster on Thursday, Sept. 19; the Medallion Opera House in Gorham on Wednesday, Sept. 25; the Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem on Thursday, Oct. 3; and the Theatre in the Wood in Intervale on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Sponsors include Peabody & Smith Realty; Presby Construction Inc.; Presby Environmental Inc. and Cranmore Mountain Resort.

Additional information is available by contacting the Arts Alliance at info@aannh.org or 323-7302.

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One way kids can get out and explore the outdoors is by hiking and paddling, and there are a variety of hiking trails and navigable waterways throughout the state. North Country trails received a recent boost when the tourism promotion organization, New Hampshire Grand, officially acknowledged the "Grand Trails of Coos County."

The trail systems join the organization's official list of New Hampshire Grand Certified Grand Adventures, billed by the group as "among the best experiences that the region has to offer." The New Hampshire Grand website notes, "You won't find these outstanding adventures elsewhere, making them well worth a drive - or a flight - from anywhere in the country."

The recently added trail systems include the Cohos Trail (cohostrail.org), which travels through the remote backcountry for 162 miles, from Crawford Notch to Pittsburg. The website notes that, once at the Canadian border, hikers can opt to continue on the Sentier Frontalier's Trail to Quebec's Mount Gosford for a great international hiking experience.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (northernforestcanoetrail.org) is also included. America's longest paddling trail, at 740 miles, it runs from Old Forge, N.Y., to Fort Kent, Maine, and travels through four states and one Canadian province.

Paddlers will find 72 miles of the trail in the Granite State, with waterborne recreational opportunities on the Upper Ammonoosuc, Androscoggin and Connecticut rivers, as well as Lake Umbagog in the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge.

AMC's high mountain hut system was also named by New Hampshire Grand as a Certified Grand Adventure amidst the Grand Trails of Coos County. AMC operates eight huts for the public, each located a day's hike apart along the Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains, where hikers can find meals, lodging, educational programs and mountain hospitality. AMC is celebrating the 125th anniversary of the hut system this year (outdoors.org/huts125).

Details on these and other Certified Grand Adventures - including guide services, hiking trails, and nearby attractions - are available at nhgrand.com.

Rob Burbank is the director of media and public affairs for the Appalachian Mountain Club (outdoors.org) in Pinkham Notch. His column, "Outdoors with the AMC," appears monthly in the New Hampshire Sunday News.


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