ALT shows Auburn Rec Summer Camp the Riverlands
July 13, 2011
Auburn Rec Summer Camp at the Riverlands
Two school buses full of third and fourth graders tumbled out the doors and onto the Homestead Trail at Riverlands State Park in Turner, on Thursday, July 14, 2011. The Auburn Parks and Recreation Department's Summer Campers, with their counselors and a few parents, numbered 77. Gary Best, Assistant State Park Regional Manager, gave them State Park passports and talked for a few minutes about what to see and what to watch out for. Then, out into the woods they went.
Once on the trail and following blue blazes and strategic banners of blue flagging, the kids encountered a variety of wild animals. Coyote howls, demonstrated and taught by Steve Reed, echoed through the forest. Reed, a frequent volunteer for the Androscoggin Land Trust and a guide at Stanton Bird Club's Thorncrag, distributed pelts of coyote, raccoon, beaver, bobcat, and skunk (for petting), and showed the campers animal footprints so they could learn about tracking.
Further on down the trail, Judy Marden, ALT Vice President and a frequent Riverlands trip leader, led the campers through the old foundations and cellar holes of the Charles Day Homestead. They learned that Auburn was just downriver, as the boat paddles-but between the city and the Riverlands were two dams, which had backed up the river and destroyed the old village. In addition to catching several frogs and a salamander, the kids climbed into the cellar hole and found pieces of old pottery, glass, and iron left behind by the original settlers. They pondered questions like "Where were the windows in the foundation, and why was the house connected to the barn?"
The next challenge was finding the turnoff to the Caleb Gilbert Road, an overgrown road and primitive trail leading to the multi-use road that travels the length of the park. Everyone completed the journey by noon, and arrived back at the buses safely and a little muddier than when they started.
Jeremy Gatcomb, Recreation Program Leader of the Auburn Parks and Recreation Department, said, "The kids had a great time. A lot of our campers have never stepped foot in an environment such as this, let alone taken part in a nature hike. Without organizations and volunteer like this, these kids would never be able to see what else is right in their community."