The Baker Creek Enhancement Society’s (BCES) Eco-Sprouts program is back for another fun filled summer of exploring nature in Quesnel.
Eco-Sprouts facilitator Laurie Bare had the idea for the program approximately 12 years ago while working for BCES after reading the book Last Child in the Woods by author Richard Louv which posits the idea that children’s exposure to nature is essential for healthy development.
At the time, Bare’s youngest child was a year and a half old and after having difficulty finding play groups for children in that age range she decided to create her own and the ECO-Sprouts program was born.
“Most play groups at that time, they finished up in June so there was really nothing for a parent to do with their children, young children especially, said Bare. “It also allows parent and tot groups and families to just get connected with their local ecosystem.”
This year the program starts on July 8 and runs every Wednesday from 10:a.m. to 11:30 a.m. through July and August, with participants meeting at the West Fraser Timber Park. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Bare has had to ask participants to preregister in order to ensure proper physical distancing can be maintained.
“The program has always been a drop-in because I know people have last minute vacations that pop up or plans change but a couple of years ago I had huge numbers, over 40 sometimes 50 kids, parents and grandparents come down so this year I have limited it to 20 participants give or take,” says Bare. “Because of covid we are still trying to keep our distance, even though Dr. Bonnie Henry says being outside is good and we are OK, we are still practicing physical distancing as much as we can for the program this year.”
Bare says one of the most consistently popular activities in the program is “pond dipping”, which sees the Eco-Sprouts explore the pond in the West Fraser Timber Park searching for creature to learn about. Bare says that she keeps the program activities fairly open as the main focus is getting families out into nature together.
“I give a general activity, some kids and parents follow it and some don’t and that’s OK because everyone is still outside having fun and that is the main purpose of the program,” said Bare.
Bare says even after 12 years the motivation behind the Eco-Sprouts program remains the same, getting youth out into nature to promote healthy development as well as instilling an interest and passion for the natural world that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“I think it is so important because they are going to be the advocates for the future, I know it sounds kinda corny but it’s true, said Bare. “If they take an interest in their local wetlands, when they’re older and that wetland is threatened to be developed hopefully they will say no this is important we need our wetlands, we need our fresh water, we need our fresh air, we need our diversity of species. It’s good for our environment it’s also good for our well being, many studies show that being outside and being part of nature is so important, it helps with mental issues, it helps with behaviour issues, I just encourage anyone to go outside, spend even just five minutes breathing in fresh air and I guarantee you are going to feel better.”
Bare says that the program is most popular with children between the ages of three and five years old, but children of all ages are welcome to participate so long as a parent is in attendance. A donation of $2 per child or $5 for families with more than three children is asked in order to participate.
Individuals interested in learning more about the Eco-Sprouts program or registering can do so by contacting Laurie Bare by phone at 250-255-7513 or by email at email@example.com.