Outdoors may mean more than rocks and bugs for Vanderhoof toddlers this summer.
On Aug. 24, Carrier Sekani Family Services’ first nature exploration camp for early years students finished with a teddy bear picnic at Riverside Park.
“We wanted to do something outside,” said Edith Stevenson, coordinator of CSFS’ Early Years Centre. “How many kiddos are afraid of a bug on a slide?”
Featuring eight weeks of themed outdoor workshops, the free program for kids aged three to seven was supported by various service groups, including Nechako Valley Search and Rescue on forest safety, WildSafeBC on bear awareness, Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre on the endangered sturgeon, Vanderhoof and Saik’uz fire departments on campfires, as well as local beekeepers and pigeon racers on their respective animals.
“It’s really about teaching them to explore their backyard, that it’s okay to get dirty” Stevenson said. “There’s so many smells and texture and different sounds you can hear outside.”
Attended by 24 families, the program initiated in July with morning sessions in Vanderhoof that continued at Saik’uz First Nation in the afternoon. Despite the brief stints of thunderstorms that visited the area earlier this summer, the program enjoyed sunny weather for its outdoor program every Wednesday.
“The feedback we received from the families and children was positive and enthusiastic,” Stevenson said. “We want to give a huge thank you to our communities of Vanderhoof and Saik’uz for their involvement and support to the program.
“Karen Scheffers was the passion for the idea of the outdoor nature program and she willingly shared her thoughts and resources with us. Others we would like to acknowledge are Lindsay for sharing her resources for bear awareness, Search and Rescue, the Vanderhoof Fire Department, Forestry, Sturgeon Release and Recovery, Jon Aebischer for sharing his knowledge with bees, Bill Inden for his pigeons, Ducks Unlimited for sharing their resources, Manferd Kutzner for the honey, the Saik’uz volunteer fire department, Marla Bisanz for the butterfly resource, and the District of Vanderhoof for their donation.
“It was an amazing experience and we are so thankful to have had the opportunity to collaborate with our communities to share it with our community families.”
For Jennifer Joe, who attended most of the program’s activities with her four-year-old daughter Emma, it was a fun and exciting program for kids to learn about animals and the environment.
“I think it’s an amazing program,” Joe said. “[Emma] enjoyed every single one and asked about it all week, ‘When do we go?’”