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   Rock Hounding
Western Maine is an amazing place for finding gemstones and minerals, but it’s perfectly fine
to simply settle for “pretty rocks!” After a quick search, you’ll find countless abandoned open pit mines and natural geological features to explore. All of my children started to show an interest in ge- ology around 5-7 years old, and this is a great time to capitalize on it. You can start a simple collection, and even add treasure hunting into the mix. Gold panning is a fun adventure, and the Swift River in the Byron area is a popular place to start.
Nature provides an abundance of edible items, and as a child, it’s important to learn what is safe and what
is not. We always enjoyed looking for blueberries,
red raspberries and other edible fruits, and always emphasized what NOT to eat. Kids learn quickly, and surprisingly, they make good connections to what you can pick and enjoy safely. As children get older, you can build on these skills.
Hiking and Nature Walks
One of the most basic activities is a simple hike through the woods. Let the forest guide you to discovery, and you’ll find that it’s always changing. We have hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout our region. We often sought trails that led to remote swimming holes, ice caves, or wildlife viewing areas. If you hike a mountain, start small and don’t set the summit as the goal, as kids get burned out quickly. Make sure you bring plenty of snacks and water, and plan ahead for the weather and conditions in all of your adventures.
Most of all, be present and in the moment; muddy boots, bare feet, bug bites and peanut butter sandwiches will build more character than a cell phone any day. As adults, it’s up to us to model this behavior by shaking the burden of technology as we step outside into the wild.
As the Director of Bryant Pond 4-H Camp and Learning Center, I work hard to instill these same values in our staff and our program. I’m fortunate
to have a very talented team that is like-minded, yet each brings their own unique passions to the work
we do. This is evidenced by the opportunities woven throughout our programs, and often times an experi- ence at camp can be that moment ... the moment that a spark is ignited that burns the incendiary flame inside that drives you to the wild places in your heart, and in the world. Consider Bryant Pond 4-H Camp and Learning Center for your child this summer, or look into one of our adult programs offered through- out the year, because regardless of how old you are, there’s always new ways to enjoy Maine’s wild places. ✬
      Arts, Entertainment, Adventure and More in Western Maine

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