Eco-Adventures for Youth: Building Relationships with the Natural World
During school vacations and weekdays after school, groups of children can be found in the yard and woods at the NRWA or on local conservation properties building snow shelters in the winter, playing “Animal Guess Who” in the spring, and digging in the dirt to learn about soil layers and insect life in the summer. Their excited chatter tells you they’re having fun. The new knowledge you hear them share with their parents at pick-up time tells you they’re learning. But that’s just the starting point for what NRWA Eco-Adventures are all about.
Why does the NRWA, with its goals to protect water and land, offer these programs for children who have never heard of TMDLs, Forest Legacy, and Smart Growth, and who are certainly in no position to vote for or fund protection efforts? The answer is that these children will be the stewards of our environment in the not too distant future. Helping them to understand and connect with the natural world starting now will aid their progress toward being well informed and engaged adults.
Eco-Adventure programs are about getting children outdoors and having fun. They’re about engaging children’s natural curiosity, teaching them the science of how the world works and how we impact the world. And, perhaps most importantly, they’re about giving children time and opportunity to experience a special moment—catching a crayfish in the clean river, finding a favorite tree to sit by for lunch, discovering a giant ant colony on a hike—that becomes a permanent positive memory about their outdoor adventure.
The goal of Eco-Adventures is for children to feel comfortable in and knowledgeable about our natural world, and to form strong lasting connections with it that they will carry forward with them into adulthood when decisions about protecting natural resources will be theirs to make.
We offer Eco-Adventures for all ages:
Summer Vacation Programs
Summer is the perfect season for long days of outdoor adventure with new and old friends! NRWA’s professional educators and naturalists offer four weeks of summer programming, three weeks focusing on science and nature outdoor activities for children ages 5 to 12, and Adventure Challenge Week for ages 11 to 14 with outdoor hiking, canoeing, and wilderness exploration using local conservation properties and the river. Summer programs range from one to four days. Group size is limited to ensure a high quality experience for each child.
Summer programs have included:
How Do They Build That?
Wild World of Water Week
It’s a Bugs Life
Adventure Challenge Week
School Vacation and After-school Programs
What is your child doing during February and April school vacation weeks? How about after school? We like to get children outside engaged in active science and outdoor exploration. We lead programs at our River Resource Center, and we provide off-site programs at schools, community centers, conservation properties, and libraries. NRWA’s after-school and vacation program themes and age groups vary with the season. Choose a program from our list of topics, or we can design a program to fit your needs.
School vacation and after-school programs have included:
Science of Winter
Earth Day Explorations
Preschool programs are offered periodically at our River Resource Center. Also, our professional education staff will travel to any preschool or public library in the watershed and provide hands-on, age appropriate activities for children ages 3-5. Each lesson includes hands-on exposure to nature, outdoor hikes (weather permitting), a story, an art activity, and an imaginary game (be an insect!). Preschool lessons run 45 minutes to 2 hours. Choose from our list of topics or let us design a program to meet your needs.
Snug in Snow: Animals in Winter
Aquatic Insect Investigations
A Bear Affair
Seeds to Weeds
It’s a Hoot! Owl Facts & Fun
Woodland Wildlife: Mammals of the Forest
Spring Peepers & Other Leapers