Connecting Children with Nature


What does poison ivy look like?  How does a compass work?  What kinds of animals live in the woods in Framingham?  Twenty-six sixth graders from Kennedy Middle School in Natick explored these questions and more during  an off-season visit to Pilgrim Day Camp this spring.
Many Kennedy School sixth graders attend a three-day outdoor education program in New Hampshire.  However,  there are some for whom a two-night overnight out of state is not the best first step into outdoor living.  For these students, Pilgrim Day Camp offered two days of nature study and team-building within easy commuting distance of home. 
“It was a home run,” said Pilgrim Day Camp Director Jon Kirby. “They saw turkeys and vultures and salamanders. They learned to tell which was the north side of a tree.  The kids had fun, they learned a lot, and it was satisfying to be able to offer a program that worked for them.”  Pilgrim Day Camp offered the 2-day experience at a reduced rate that just covered direct costs, to keep the program affordable for all interested children.
“Many of the churches of the Massachusetts Conference share a strong commitment to care for God’s creation,” noted Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond. “To care, we need to feel connected to the natural world of which we’re part.  When children have a chance to immerse themselves in the beauty and sheer fun of playing in the woods, the seeds of environmental stewardship are planted.”
Pilgrim Day Camp  is an interfaith community outreach program of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, offering summer programming for children ages 3 to 14.


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