Written by Matt Pyster, an interpretive ranger with the Student Conservation Association (a group that helps bring awareness to the minds of people, and action to the conservation of our planet)
Hello all! I am here to sell you on the idea of bringing your kids to multiple free nature programs at our parks! As an interpretive ranger I create programs that deepen the experience of park visitors by facilitating discovery and sharing knowledge. Interpretive rangers often do this to create a mental shift in people, so that general choices to heal the planet (such as reducing, reusing, recycling, and choosing ethically sourced food) are natural decisions, not sacrifices. Many people participate in just one program, but I believe that there is a synergistic effect when people attend multiple. Three reasons you and your kids should become repeat attendees are excitement to learn, deepening the experience, and…free babysitters. Read below to understand.
(1) Excitement to Learn
There are many times where I have seen a kid smiling when they see me on the beach with my “nature” flag, and they are eager to learn about whatever the new program is! Imagine that – your kids EXCITED to learn! That’s the point of our lessons. We make learning fun, so that the kids will actually want to remember the lesson, and think happily about picking up trash and recycling…not as something that they were told to do for external reasons.
(2) Deepen the Experience
Multiple lessons lead to overlapping information that further deepen the experience of the programs attended. I have had people tell their families about the edible plants they remember from a previous activity with me, while we are doing an “exploratory walk” program. Your kid can become YOUR teacher, and I have seen several kids become excited by the opportunity.
(3) Free Babysitters
We are essentially free babysitters for an hour at a time! OK, so I joke about this part, and leaving unhappy kids who do NOT want to be there really is not helping the kids or our programs. But on this note – depending on the age and the kid, they may love for you to come with them, providing an opportunity to share one of a kind memories. Coming to multiple programs can become a reoccurring bonding experience for you. On the flip side, as one girl said to her mom, “no parents allowed!” (which was not a rule, by the way). Her parents then gave her the gift of pseudo-independence, letting her feel more in control.
Global warming, mass extinction, and simple disconnect from nature are growing. The job of interpretive rangers is to rekindle and strengthen people’s natural connection to the world around us. If this is something you want your kids to have, a simple step is to attend a program at our parks in NH. If you then want to excite, deepen and bond over that experience – attend a few more! I hope to see you at some programs, either this year or next!
P.S. For information including the locations of the programs offered, you can click Here.