Monday, June 7, 2021

Kids hike and journal at Auger Falls

It doesn’t get any better than educating kids on a hike, bringing in some creativity with a journaling activity, and appreciating the wild energy of a waterfall.

I teamed up with staff from the Hamilton County Family First Program and Trail Blazers to host a hike and outdoor journaling adventure to Auger Falls for students from Wells, Lake Pleasant, and Indian Lake.

Our pack of fourteen had an epically glorious afternoon on April 8 for a jaunt to the falls situated on the Sacandaga River.  The weather was unseasonably warm and sunny, with the additional bonus of being blissfully free of biting bugs.

This student closes her eyes to experience the woods with her other senses, then journals about what she heard, smelled, touched, and tasted.

Along the way, I talked with the students about the importance of leave no trace, pointed out a glacial erratic, and explained how decomposition enriches forest ecosystems.

Once we reached our destination and refueled with water and snacks, Robin Hausel and Victoria Fish of the Family First Program set up an array of art supplies.  I handed out blank journals to the students who used paint, markers, crayons, and natural items like leaves and bark to craft covers inspired by the Siamese Ponds Wilderness around them.  Evangeline Wells of Trail Blazers made sure students stayed on task.

Students craft their own journals then jot down their experience at Auger Falls.

The pack took their time with their art project.  After they finished their journal cover, I asked them to find their own space on the ground or a comfy rock and close their eyes for five minutes, allowing their other senses to experience their surroundings.  Once time was up, they wrote or drew what they heard, smelled, tasted, and touched.

This exercise encouraged students to use less dominant and perhaps underappreciated senses to tune into, enjoy, and value their natural world in a new and inspiring way.  I hope that they continue to use their journals to process challenges and successes in their lives, and log their outdoor adventures.

The Auger Falls outdoor journaling crew.

Family First Program leaders strive to promote healthy hobbies, build community attachment, and develop relationship-building skills with youth in Hamilton County.  The Trail Blazers program prevents the onset of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use by building an individual’s character through participation in adventure activities.  The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District has been working to manage and promote the wise use of natural resources in Hamilton County since 1965.

Top photo: Kids explore a glacial erratic.

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Caitlin Stewart is Conservation Educator at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD). One of HCSWCD’s largest programs is their Invasive Species program and Caitlin will be sharing her field experiences, as well as the efforts and results of forest surveys, and monitoring and management.

Caitlin has deep roots in Hamilton County as both her grandparents purchased property on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant in the 1960s. Her parents met and were married in Lake Pleasant, and she spent summers and vacations there. She’s been a full time resident since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, runner and biker.




5 Responses

  1. Steve Stofelano Jr says:

    Family’s First, what a great place to gather…in the great outdoors!

  2. Marjorie says:

    There is nothing I enjoy more than being in the woods, except maybe taking grandkids. ?
    I hate being negative, but, these children wore a mask to hike outside in the sun and fresh air. I understand mandates but really didn’t someone think this isn’t right?
    Immune systems and common sense have disappeared.

  3. Robert White says:

    Uncle took 14 year old nephew on hikes in the woods. Nephew grew up and took younger siblings and nephews on hikes in the woods. Younger siblings and nephews grew up and took their younger siblings and nieces and nephews on hikes in the woods. Those younger siblings and nieces and nephews have grown up and are taking their younger counter parts on hikes into the woods. Generation after generation the beat goes on.

  4. Jim S. says:

    What a positive and uplifting experience that must have been for this kids! Kudos to your program and efforts to expose young ones to nature. Love these stories!

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