Coordinator Commentary: Expanding Our Reach in the “Mitten”

Nature is where all the beautiful and wild things are… Nature is also a place where you can enjoy peace and quiet and get to see wonderful, new things. ~ Santeja

Michigan has been celebrating its fifth anniversary of Parks in Focus in a big way! In addition to leading nine Parks in Focus: Michigan alumni from Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo Counties on our first-ever alumni trip to Isle Royale National Park, the Udall Foundation just launched a new, pilot program to introduce 10 youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint to area parks through digital photography. The project was initiated by and is funded through University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint, and we are thrilled to have a new program partner in them!

Parks in Focus: Flint features area parks and public lands within Genesee, Bay, Saginaw and Shiawassee Counties through a series of day trips that lead up to a weekend camping adventure to Bay City State Recreation Area. This will be the first time most of the participants have camped.

The program kicked off last week with a visit to Ligon Outdoor Center where the participants worked together to cross imaginary rivers and canyons and successfully complete several of Ligon’s popular challenge course and low-ropes initiatives.

(Photo: Stepping Stone Falls is just one of several scenic county parks located within minutes of the Boys & Girls Club in Flint.)

This week, the participants visited and photographed sites within Max Brandon City Park, Bluebell Beach County Park and Stepping Stone Falls. All of these parks are within 15 minutes of the Boys & Girls Club and helped to demonstrate to the kids that you can find beautiful landscapes and natural areas within an urban center.

In just two outings, we’re already noticing significant changes among the participants beyond their fast-improving photo-taking skills. The squealing, squirming and swatting triggered by encounters with insects, spiders and frogs from our first outing have already begun to dwindle. In fact, some of those same critters have become fascinating subjects in their photography.

Check out the slideshow below containing some of the highlights from the first two Flint outings. Be sure to stay tuned for more!

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Upcoming Activities with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Flint:

  • July 26: Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
  • August 5–6: Overnight @ BGC
  • August 19–21: Weekend Trip to Bay City State Recreation Area

I enjoy spending time in nature because you get to see things that you don’t see everyday. ~ Deandre

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