'Happy Trails' to you

Vivienne McCarthy laid on her stomach on a wooden bridge with her eyes focused on the water below her.
Krystle Wagner
Jul 3, 2014

The 4-year-old carefully scanned the water to look for wildlife alongside 11 other kids and their parents participating in the “Happy Trails” day camp at the Hemlock Crossing county park on Wednesday.

The 3- and 4-year-olds learned about outdoor safety and using magnifying glasses and binoculars to get them excited about spending time outdoors, county parks naturalist Carla Kocher said.

Vivienne’s jaw dropped when her grandmother, Chris McCarthy, pointed out a frog.

“He is camouflaged by a weed,” the girl said.

Campers excitedly looked into a white plastic container filled with water to give them a closer look at tadpoles and a frog.

The wind rustled the trees as campers held their parents’ hands while they quietly walked along the trail in front of the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing. Kocher crouched down and cupped her hands around her ears and asked campers to use their listening ears. The group’s quiet chatter stopped as the sound of chirping crickets picked up.

Prior to traipsing along the trail, Kocher spoke with campers about the importance of remaining on the trail, to not litter and letting an adult know they planned to go outdoors.

Along the trail, the group searched the leaves of a sassafras tree for shapes of footballs, dinosaur prints and mittens. Kocher also walked around with a leaf for students to take in its aroma.

Alexander Gaudard, 4, picked up the cardboard binoculars that hung around his neck with a piece of string. The Jenison boy carefully examined the meadow in front of the group looking for a bird off in the distance.

Alexander’s mother, Heather Gaudard, said her son looked forward to camp all morning.

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