This year, the Youth Department at East Side Neighborhood Services brought back a special tradition — Bovey Family Camp.
Our trip to Camp Bovey — located in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin — was the kick-off of a two-month series of experiential education events for students and adult caregivers alike. All activities were generously supported by the Minnesota Ornithological Union and the Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter.
Our trip began on the cliffs of Hawkridge in northern Duluth. We were part of the crew who watched the migration of hawks — some of us even got to hold a wild hawk and release it after it had been banded. There were fascinating bird wings, bones, skulls, and talons that we could touch and feel.
We went on a perilous hike along slippery rocky slopes overlooking the Superior Hiking Trail and the grand Lake Superior. Youth, parents, and staff alike felt the magic of the northern point of such a special migration. The staff of Hawkridge "banded" the youth with their current "wingspan" widths, shared binoculars and chairs with our senior participants, and showed us how dragonflies grow from nymphs to winged flying creatures who also take part in their own migration.
On our way from Duluth to Camp Bovey, we stopped along the beaches of Lake Superior. The plan was to look at the water and admire its magnificence, but then a few toes wanted to see how cold it was... then a few finger tips needed to touch the glistening pebbles... then a few ankles wanted to experience the push and pull of the incoming waves.... and before we knew it, this was a full-fledged swimming session! Many of the children had never experienced tides and waves.
After our Duluth adventure, we returned to Camp Bovey. The kids who attended Bovey taught their grown-ups what Hodaggers do come nightfall — late into the night, we roasted s'mores, played games, and sang songs led by camp staff.
In the morning, before we returned to Minneapolis, families learned to throw hatchets, canoe, and explore the wilds of Boveyland.
In October, the Luxton Learners began a four-week study of bird anatomy, physiology, and migration patterns. Artist-naturalists from Silverwood Park of the Three Rivers Park District used art as a medium for engaging youth in the science of winged creatures, and they invited us on an all-day field trip to observe birds on the pond.
As a finale, we brought our two community-based programs together. The Luxton Learners performed an interpretive migration dance wearing the masks and bird costumes that they had created. Mulberry Junction kids stepped in to fill the spots of youth who couldn't make it to the event, and families from both programs shared the celebration of learning together.