Corazón Latino, The Nature Conservancy, and the US Forest Service organized a day of fun, nature, and science at Great Falls, VA to celebrate Kids to Parks Day!
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon for a day at the park. More specifically, it was a beautiful day to celebrate Every Kid to a Park Day. The sun was shining, and we made ourselves comfortable at a picnic table beneath a tree. As families arrived, we got everyone together to outline the day’s activities: forest bathing, nature walk, scavenger hunt, and some hands-on science activities created with kids in mind.
Forest bathing, to those who may be unfamiliar, is the practice of mindfulness in nature, paying close attention to the sights, smells, sounds, and textures of your surroundings. One mom who’d been with us from our very first event went on to become trained as a forest therapy guide and led the group in the forest bathing “invitation.” An invitation where participants are welcomed to share how they are experiencing their surroundings.
Meanwhile, the younger kids were equipped with butterfly nets as they geared up to explore the creatures of Great Falls. Each kid played the role of an explorer and was encouraged to write or sketch their observations in their Nature Conservancy field notebooks to help them come up with their own common names for the creatures they encountered. We found a “flying grasshopper,” a “blue-speckled butterfly,” and a frog. Please note: there was unanimous consensus that “frog” was a fitting common name that didn’t need to be improved upon.
When the adults returned from the forest bathing invitation, our friends at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) led a bilingual walk along the Falls. Participants of all ages were able to enjoy the soothing sounds of the rushing water and chirping birds as TNC scientists pointed out different plants and animals before heading back to the picnic tables for some pupusas, music, games, and a raffle.
The games included a boys versus girls scavenger hunt (spoiler alert: girls won). Our lovely volunteers from the Washington Center were very competitive, which made the whole experience that much more fun. At the end of the event, after everyone had had their fill of pupusas we cleaned up, got on the bus, and enjoyed a nap after an eventful day at the park.