Going on a nature walk is supposed to be an opportunity for exploration and discovery of the natural world around us. We’re supposed to see butterflies, moss, lakes, green spaces, and everything related to the great outdoors. That’s not an easy task in East New York though because we’re surrounded by an industrial park, housing complexes, and homes.

We found that we could still enjoy nature with a little imagination and ingenuity. No need in crying over missed opportunities when we can create them!

Our first stop was at a planter outside with a dense shrub. The campers used their magnifying glasses to inspect the leaves and look for bugs. There were none to be found but they insisted on looking anyway.

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Next, we found a variety of trees and compared their height, width, bark, and texture. There were a few small spiders and crawling bugs scurrying around the bark surface and they made for wonderful discoveries by the campers. They used the magnifying glasses again to follow the bugs on their journey, squeaking and giggling as the bugs hid in crevices and resurfaced elsewhere.

We found fallen bark and compared the specimens, stepping on them to see what sound they made, snapping it in our hands to see how strong it was, and feeling the surface to identify the texture.

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Synthetic grass proved just as interesting as real grass. The little ones found something of interest and decided to explore further, squatting low to get closer to the action. While it didn’t appear to be an insect or a bug, it did appear to be something harmless and inanimate like a wad of lint.

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Finally, we found a chain link fence nearby that was unintentionally repurposed by nature to be a trellis for vines and flowers. It was a pleasant, albeit unusual, find. There were bees buzzing back and forth, darting from flower to flower, feeding and pollinating as usual. It was great for the campers to see the bees in a natural environment instead of in books. They could see the bees in their actual size and hear the sound of their buzzing.

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All in all, it was a worthwhile nature walk. We didn’t get to experience the great outdoors in the ideal sense. We experienced it in a practical sense, starting with how the children saw it every day. Now they can see the environment around them differently and interact with it in a completely new way. These experiences serve to expand their minds and allow them to think outside the confines of their immediate surroundings.

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