My father took my brother and I on our first hike in the woods owned by my grandfather. He pointed out edible beechnuts and how to find squirrel nest.
As we got older, we used to catch crayfish and minnows in Jacks Creek. Mom was never too impressed with our habit of keeping outdoor aquariums of the creatures we captured (especially the day we caught the water snake when we lived in Dale City). But, we rarely got in trouble and were very good students in science classes. To this day, my brother is an avid aquarium keeper and I have a career doing what I did as a child.
Wonders in the aquatic world
Introducing a child to the wonders of the outdoors has academic benefits. All students have different motivators such as athletics, music, and visual art. But, seeing a river otter on a canoe trip or the colors of Autmn leaves might inspire a budding biologist or botanist. Even a walk in the woods can lead to a little tune to hum and sing. And how many young artist began their careers with crayon-drawn pictures of the mountains and seashore? The natural world can be the spark for learning.
Spark an interest
There are social benefits to having kids who love the outdoors too. Young anglers and hunters can provide something for the dinner table on a regular basis and reduce the family food bill. By following the rules and good wildlife management practices, they can help ensure that others can enjoy nature as well. Other kids may prefer mountain biking, hiking, paddling, horseback riding, and other activities. Whatever he or she may be interested in, if they stick with constructive outdoor activities as teens, the less likely they are to be involved in anti-social behaviors.
There are many organizations to support a child's love for the outdoors. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been the premiere groups to encourage youth to explore the natural world. Faith based clubs are also no strangers to hiking trails and river banks. As a service to their communities, they do a variety of projects from cleaning litter to building observation decks. Some of the most scenic places in your favorite parks are maintained, in part, by the volunteer labor of young people.
Ranger Tim with a young paddler
At York River State Park, we want to give a big "Thank You" to this year's Youth Conservation Corps for the hard work and dedication the put into improving various areas of the park, including the Taskinas Creek observation platform and seining beach. Also to our Nature Explorers & Junior Rangers leaders Tim Beck and Blake Turner for guiding kids in hands on learning experiences. Our staff and volunteers are committed to giving all of our guests, especially the children, meaningful outdoor experiences who will become knowledgeable stewards of our natural resources.
The YCC worked hard this season
Directions to York River State Park: From I-64, take the Croaker Exit 231B. Go north on Route 607 (Croaker Rd.) for one mile, then right on Route 606 (Riverview Rd.) about one and a half miles to the park entrance. Take a left turn into the park.