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Special After School Program, Birch Buddies ~ Hike! is a Spectacular Success at Birch Grove Community School!

Submitted by BGCS

17 Birch Grove students and 2 school staff took on a total of 18 miles of Superior Hik­ing Trails throughout 8 hikes in a new special edition afterschool program, Birch Buddies ~ HIKE! School staff and creators of this pro­gram, Sara Knottski, long-time K/1 teacher, and Gayle Grinnell, paraprofessional and LPN, confidently led each of the 8 weekly hikes exploring the wonderful area that we live in.

Hikers enjoyed observing the change of sea­son from summer to fall to winter throughout the 8 weeks of specifically chosen hikes. The first hike included warm temperatures, green leaves, and splashing toes in the Caribou Riv­er. Each progressing week hikers saw the ma­ple and oak leaves change color, followed by the birch and aspen leaves. They observed an increase in grouse spotting and cooler tem­peratures. Hikers learned about the history of logging at Sugarloaf and the reason why the rivers run brown and look like ‘root beer’, as the children stated. The children were always amazed at the views from the top of each peak. They enjoyed spotting houses, and boats on the great lake, and finding peaks in the dis­tance that they had already conquered.

The hiking series was concluded by wel­coming in winter and summiting Carlton Peak, the peak that can be seen at Birch Grove. The children were elated to find ici­cles and half-frozen streams and intrigued about how much one can see through the for­est with the absence of leaves.

“On top of Carlton Peak, the children spot­ted Birch Grove Community School with amazement. It was a great way to end this program,” said Sara Knottski, adding, “I was impressed with each child and their consistent curiosity and excitement to spend time in the woods exploring, learning, bonding with one another, and, hopefully, creating a life­long love of nature.”

“I feel blessed to have been a part of this program that surpassed my expectations,” said Gayle Grinnell. “So many memories for the hikers were made this hiking season and I can’t wait to see where the program goes from here!”

It is anticipated that a Birch Buddies ~ HIKE! spring series will be offered at the end of the school year. Registration is expected to fill up fast after the great success of the fall series.

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