It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean kids are off the hook from learning. One Dallas camp is teaching its students about character – and this week, the focus is on beauty. KERA News tagged along with one group as they trekked around the Trinity River Audubon Center.
On this hot, sunny morning, Kayla Adams is leading students on a nature walk.
“This is part of the Trinity River,” Adams says. “As you guys can see, it is brown.”
As they stop to look out at river, Adams explains why the river looks so brown. Some of it is erosion. And some of it is, people dump stuff in it. A lot of stuff.
It’s not exactly inviting on this steamy, summer day. The kids were sweating, but they had a lot of questions.
“I wonder what’s in there, other than fish.” says one boy. “Maybe frogs.”
The students are from several different elementary schools across Dallas. They’re part of camp organized by the Dallas school district, Boys and Girls Club and the company Mad Science.
The key is to make sure kids have fun while also learning during the summer months. As the kids walk along the trail, they ask Adams if there any alligators or snakes.”
“Do you have even any beaver dams?” asks another boy.
“We do have beaver dams, but again, they’re like far into the woods,” Adams says. “They’re not usually on the trails.”
“Oh so they’re not gonna be like in the lake?” asks a girl. “Do you have any animals that burrow?”
“Uh, I don’t think so,” Adams says. “Not here.”
Demetria Bell is the summer camp principal. The goal for these city kids isn’t just to learn about how nature works, but that nature is beautiful.
Exercises like these, she says, can help they do some self-reflecting and realize that beauty is everywhere.
“What we hope that the children will do is get an appreciation for nature overall and to respect nature,” Bell says. “One of the things we just talked about is pollution in the Trinity River and those are things that we want to teach kids early on because those are things that ultimately affect our society negatively.”
The kids trudge along the path and stop when they see what look like pot holes in the ground. Adams explains these holes were made by hogs. Wild hogs.
“And they sleep here,” Adams says. “So you’re actually seeing their beds right here that looks like holes.”
So there are hogs, but like when they sleep, they will dig holes?” one girl asks. “Or they will dig holes to keep cool?
“Uh, it’s both, really,” Adams explains.
After the nature walk, students go back into the air-conditioned Trinity River Audubon Center. They talk about what they learned and what surprised them.
11-year-old Angelique Padgitt says seeing the Trinity River so dirty bothered her.
“Why would people want to pollute the thing that gives you life because as scientifically proven, we are 70 percent made of water,” Padgitt says. “So we need to keep hydrating, so that means instead of polluting water, can we at least try to throw your trash in the trash can?”
Life lessons learned from a summertime nature walk.