In today’s wired, fast-paced culture, we are increasingly losing contact with the natural world around us. Children, in particular, are suffering from this disconnect. A 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that the average American child spends 44 hours per week in front of some kind of electronic screen. In an article published in The Ecologist that same year, author and advocate Tim Gill said, “Children are disappearing from the outdoors at a rate that would make them at the top of any conservationist’s list of endangered species if they were any other member of the animal kingdom.”
At our Crow’s Nest Preserve, Natural Lands Trust is helping to combat this nature disconnect, one child at a time. Kids enrolled in any of our diverse educational programs engage in a wide range of activities including exploring the woods, hunting for critters, playing in the creek, and sensory-rich games. They get wet, dirty, tired, and inspired. We also make sure they have some supervised but unstructured play time, which many child development experts believe is essential to cognitive and emotional development.
The goal of all this fun and exploration is to create connections between the campers and the natural world around them. As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof put it, “The American environmental movement has focused so much on preserving nature that it has neglected to do enough to preserve a constituency for nature.” We believe that today’s campers could become tomorrow’s conservationists; that their experiences at Crow’s Nest will translate into a lifelong respect and passion for the environment.
Crow’s Nest Preserve offers a variety of educational programming throughout the year for children aged five through early teenhood.
Each week of camp, we welcome a different age group of participants. First- and second-grade students visit the same remote campsite daily, third through sixth graders explore the larger nature preserve, while seventh and eight graders participate in a variety of field trips to learn more about how Crow’s Nest fits into the larger framework of regional conservation.
Daily activities include free play in the woods, small group adventures, and creek exploration.
During the school year, students in kindergarten through sixth grades can participate in our nature clubs, which run weekly in eight-week blocks during autumn, winter, and spring. There are after-school clubs for children in grades K-6, as well as a morning program for home-schooled children.
A typical program includes a short hike or hayride to a destination to explore, and a period of free play.
Teen Service Program:
Teens who have aged out of our other programs are invited to meet two or three times a month to complete service projects at Crow’s Nest. These projects might include trail creation and maintenance, creating interpretive materials for preserve visitors, or organizing fundraisers to benefit the education programs.
For more information about our programs, please , call us at 610-286-7955, or visit our Facebook page.