Nature Valley...or the Blue Hills?

“Have you ever seen a Nature Valley commercial?” Fatou, a ten-year-old hiker from Boys and Girls Club Dorchester asked me on our most recent adventure in the Blue Hills Reservation. I nodded, evoking an excited response, “Well this,” she said, gesturing to the rising dirt trails and trees bright green after a morning storm, “looks just like one of them!” She looked around again, taking in what had previously been an image on TV, as now a part of her Tuesday afternoon, before continuing to trot along down the trail. She jumped from tree root to rock, chatting about everything from her favorite breakfast foods to her summer plans as we journeyed through the shaded Massachusetts woods.

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For Fatou and her peers, this was one of many trips with Elevate Youth and they were certainly excited to be back outside with the EY team. While some mild complaints of tired feet and wobbly legs were sporadically called out throughout the hike, there were far more moments of enthusiasm. The kids hyped themselves up to get up the steeper rocky areas, and cheered their peers on once they had conquered the most challenging areas of the hike, congratulating each other before beginning their decent. As we came to the end of the trail the kids happily dug their feet along the small sand beach on Houghton Pond, taking in the last moments of the late afternoon sun which had chosen to shine after a morning of rain and wind. They asked questions about the wildlife that roamed the beach, the most important and pressing inquiry being if they could, pretty please, pet the baby geese. While we assured them that we were in total agreement that the geese were verrryyy cute, the answer was no unless they were looking for a big bite on the hand from the mother goose. After persuading the kids that geese are better observed then played with, our Lead Instructor, Nick, gave our participants a lesson in shelter-building.

Giving each participant a small piece of rope, Nick showed them how to tie slip knots, some quickly mastering the technique while others called for his assistance. Once everyone was in possession of their very own knot, the kids learned how to build a simple shelter. Using a tarp, a couple of stakes, and some rope, they helped Nick create a rudimentary tent. While no one was dying to stay the night sleeping under their newly constructed tent in the Blue Hills, they took pride in their small shelter. They waved bye to their construction as the sun began to hang low in the sky, big smiles across their faces. My first official Elevate Youth outing came to a close and I already found myself excited for the next adventure.

by Kate Lietz, Elevate Youth Summer Intern

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Annie Hayes