Is it really fall if you don't carve a pumpkin? Our students did just that in the peaceful and local Glen Hills Park during one session of the Fall 2023 After School Program.
All the leaves are brown, and the skies are grey... well, not quite--they are actually pretty sunny and the leaves have some incredible hues of red, yellow, orange and brown! The clocks have changed and it is undeniably fall. Over the last 10 weeks students from George Washington and Francis Hammond Middle Schools observed the changing season, and took note also of nature's subtle changes as they explored local parks each week.
Counterclockwise from top left: X Marks the spot! Students play tic-tac-toe on the sandy beach of Dyke Marsh; sun reflects off the waters at the lush Green Spring Gardens as students scan the water for turtles; students take full advantage of Mason District Park, finding river rocks and climbing over logs; the extraordinary Huntley Meadows never disappoints, offering great bird watching and frog and turtle spotting on warm after school days.
The After School program was the first Wilderness Kids program--ever. We began in October, 2021, still under pandemic restrictions, and confined to a dilapidated soccer field. These days, our students have decidedly better views - the stretching marsh land of Huntley Meadows, the tranquil waters of Dyke Marsh, the rolling forested hills of Mason District Park, and the muddy beaches of Roosevelt Island, to name a few.
Counterclockwise from top-left: Wilderness Kids Educator Lauren and 6th Grade Student Taylor check out a turtle at the Buddie Ford Nature Center. Taylor and fellow 6th grader Kamaryn pose in front of some beautiful fall colors with Wilderness Kids staff Lauren and Lizzie at Dora Kelly Park. Students - whose first kayak experiences have been with Wilderness Kids - laze beside the reeds in kayaks near Belle Haven marina. 7th grader Anna pauses in her kayak beside Wilderness Kids staff Shean even as 8th grader Sandra pulls the oldest trick in the world on Lizzie. 7th grader Latiek enjoys the waters of Dyke Marsh on a warm fall day.
While our After School Program has a primary aim of giving students time for student-led exploration in their local parks, we have integrated a dash of adventure as well. This fall students have gone kayaking (for almost all Wilderness Kids, their first time kayaking with us is their first time kayking ever), tried their hand at fishing, and soon will be improving their overall sense of our local geography by taking in views of Alexandria from the iconic (see our logo) Masonic Temple. These adventures have been made possible by some wonderful local partners, including Kevin and Ed from Frolick Dogs, who took our students fishing at Lake Cook, just off Eisenhower Avenue.
Left to Right: 8th grader Asra expresses her astonishment as her friend Khurshed brings in a big one. A few moments later, Wilderness Kids volunteer and avid angler, Kevin, helps Asra take her own lake monster off the hook.
We hope you've enjoyed a look at some of our happiest After School moments from this fall and we hope, next time you fish, you'll catch a great big one, just like our Wilderness Kids!