By Mark Ambrogi
The Camel Clay Parks & Recreation staff wants to encourage youth to connect with nature.
“Spring is a great time to get everyone outdoors,” said Lindsay Labas, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation marketing director. “We want to focus on younger generation, those individuals who are going to start with parks now and throughout their life span. We want them to utilize the trail network and see how plants work into what we do on a daily basis through our parks maintenance program.”
Exploration Celebration, a free program, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 25 at Central Park East Woods.
“Our focus is on nature, really getting kids outdoors at a young age,” Labas said.
There will be a story teller from Carmel Clay Public Library will provide a storyteller who will be reading nature-themed books to all of the participants. The participants will then work on nature crafts that will tie into the stories that they tell. The library representatives will bring books children can borrow for the day. The event is for all ages, Labas said.
“But we typically see participants in that preschool age and younger kids,” Labas said. “The story time will be off in the grassy area off from the louder events. We’ll have insects and bugs we’ll be talking about. We’ll be showcasing some of the plants. There will be a craft area where kids will be able to color and do crafts that ties along with a butterfly migration cycle. They will get some seeds that they can take along and plant at home and watch their tree grow.”
There also will be a scavenger hunt, using a booklet each participant receives.
“They can find things whether it’s on our trails or at our shelter location,” Labas said.
The parks department will host a Wild Edibles program at Founders Park’s Wilfong Pavilion from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on April 30. Those in attendance will learn which plants are edible and which are poisonous. Cost is $12. To register, visitcarmelclayparks.com.
“These programs are the start of everything,” Labas said. “In the summer, we’re also starting to offer half-day nature camps. Those start up in June. They can learn about reptiles. They can learn why being green is such a big deal right now in society.”