Exploring a New Type of Program
If you’ve been watching closely over the last year, you may have noticed Farrington introduced the idea for a new type of program: EXPLORE! Explore is an opportunity for a group of youth to connect with nature on a regular basis. Instead of a one-time field trip to Farrington, youth have the opportunity to connect to nature throughout the year and/ or throughout a semester-- both at Farrington and beyond. This spring, we piloted our very first Explore Clubs.
The first was a 3-week pilot with the Lincoln METCO program. Twelve 4th and 5th graders came over after school for an hour and a half in April and May. We hiked the trails, played some nature games, weeded and planted our children’s garden, and enjoyed some time in nature. While the unseasonably warm weather held us back a little during some of our sessions, we really look forward to bringing the group back out in the fall and seeing how we can connect what they are learning in their school day with the natural world on our property.
The second was an 8 week session with some 3rd-5th graders at Cambridge Community Center. We started with a group visit to Farrington over April Vacation Week. Over the next 6 weeks, Farrington staff then visited the Center to do a variety of activities on their site, utilizing the recess yard, parks nearby, and activities within the Center itself. After creating their own guidebook to Farrington made up of animals that interested them, the participants then visited Farrington again, using their nature skills and new knowledge on the trail.
While only a small group from CCC was able to join us back at Farrington, the kids who did come had a wonderful time. As we walked on the trail, one participant excitedly reminded everyone of the rules of climbing the rock (keep your hands to yourself, always maintain 3 points of contact). On the way back, they came up with their own trail game: Red light, yellow light, green light, blue light. Not sure what a blue light is? It’s a dance break. We had a great time walking back down the trail dancing as we went. During our last program for the semester, participants drew animal habitats for the animals they learned about throughout the previous weeks on the sidewalk before “becoming” their animals.
Piloting these new programs this spring certainly came with some logistical challenges. In the end, however, it was a great way to connect with youth both within their own neighborhood, and on a more consistent basis, and we look forward to this program growing and stretching in new and unforeseen ways in the coming years.