KBTC KIDS Wapato Exploration Camp
As summer activities come to a close, the participants of the KBTC Kids Wapato Day Camp are leaving with strong friendships and plenty of memories. From activities, to arts, games and exploration, these campers had a lot of fun and are already looking forward to next summer.
The KBTC Kids Wapato Day Camp is a partnership between KBTC Public Television and Metro Parks Tacoma. KBTC brings the fun, innovative educational resources and inspiration from PBS Kids programs and Metro Parks Tacoma provides the beautiful natural setting and support.
Wapato Park is part of Metro Parks Tacoma and is comprised of trails, a playground, a lake, picnic tables, a clubhouse, wildlife, and more. The location offered the perfect balance of indoor and outdoor activities for the kids. Their favorite, however, seemed to be the nature walks. Many of the campers made sure to share how much they loved exploring outside.
Today, the campers, Metro Parks staff, and KBTC crew were prepping for their final summertime trek around the lake. The kids were excited, but I’m not sure any of us knew the magic that would arise during this particular walk.
The journey began with the kids intending to find as many Tacoma Rocks as possible. If you don’t know what these are, artists and citizens of the Tacoma area paint rocks and leave them in parks for others to find. Their intent is to brighten people’s day and they are certainly doing that! After finding one of the painted rocks, you can photograph it and post to the Facebook page @Tacoma Rocks or you can tag #tacomarocks and share what you’ve found! After that, you can keep the rock, leave another in its place, or hide it somewhere else.
Not only did several kids find some of these lovely rocks but a couple were ones they’d painted and hidden days before. The kids were ecstatic as they searched the woods and trail for more, occasionally hiding ones they’d already found so someone else could take part. Along the way they found blackberries and some stinky snails they affectionately named Gary and Gary’s friend.
When we reached the halfway mark, Johnny took a break from the rocks to admire the view. He said, “When we’ve walked around the lake, I can see our camp and it makes me feel like I’ve traveled around the world.” His smile was wide as he let his mind wander to thoughts of discovering new places.
Liliana also had some wise insights to share. When we reached the portion of the trail that went through the woods, she shifted her focus from Tacoma Rocks to finding a rock with a ring all the way around. She was quite intent and the trail was certainly full of rocks!
When I asked her why she was looking for a plain rock with a ring around it, she said that those kinds of rocks are for making wishes. And she had wishes to make! I helped her search for a little while and someone asked her if she felt wishing actually worked. She thought for a moment and finally said, “Wishing is good, but first you wish, then you dream, then you do.” She explained that wishing was step one. Dreaming and most importantly, doing, were the big steps. I told her she was wise and she blamed her dad.
While Liliana didn’t find any rocks with a ring on our journey, she did find two Tacoma Rocks!
Throughout the walk, the kids learned about plants. Most importantly, the ones with poisonous berries! They also discovered bird species, caterpillars with their nests hiding high in the trees, and why water evaporated during summer and left ravines. By the time we all returned to the camp, everyone was ready for lunch!
For the campers, their nature walks helped them discover, learn, and spread joy as they left behind some of their gorgeous Tacoma Rocks for others to find.
Have you found a Tacoma Rock or painted a beautiful one to hide? Show us! Post a picture on Facebook or Twitter and make sure to tag @Tacoma Rocks and @KBTCtv so we can share in your fun!