Forest Flower Power

To research for this post, I took myself on my favorite hike in Pisgah National Forest. The first mile or so is flat, meandering along and across Cove Creek. Then, rather abruptly, the trail inclines. If you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice the ascending elevation presents different vegetation from that of the creek bed. That’s why I have done this hike dozens of times; each time, I discover a new character of the forest, plant or animal, that I wasn’t aware of before. This particular “research hike,” made for one of the most memorable outdoor experiences I’ve ever had.

In order to thoroughly appreciate a hike in this woods this time of year, you need to come prepared for a full-sensory experience. I’m telling you, the air smells like warm honey. You can hear the singing of a dozen bird species in all directions. The brisk and dry winter air has been replaced with a balmy breeze. And the colors. A hundred shades of green from the forest floor to the top of the canopy, interrupted by a dazzling display of multi-colored flowers. If you can manage to get the trail to yourself, simply being silently present in such a place at this time is immersion-therapy.

I cannot overstate that the month of May is the veritable golden hour of the southern Appalachian forest. Whether you do a hike that you’ve done before, or choose a completely new one, my advice is to allot yourself more time than usual. Make this your once-a-year traipse through the woods, pausing to observe every delightful nuance that remotely sparks your interest. And yes, you really really should stop to smell the flowers.

Tips for responsible flower-peeping:

You love flowers, I love flowers, and it turns out, so do the pollinators. Here are some things to keep in mind on your floral journey:

  1. Stay on the path.
    • It’s the idea that if just you are the one to stray from the path to scope out a plant, it’s not a big deal. But imagine if every person after you were to do the same? Social paths or trails are haphazardly made by hikers who depart from the main trail. This may be to avoid a puddle, transect a switchback, or simply see something cool. While we highly condone seeing cool things on hikes, the forging of a social path (even if accidental) degrades the habitat surrounding the trail. If a closer view of a particular flower is what you’re after, chances are high that you’ll eventually see the same species closer to the trail. 
  2. Don’t pick anything. 
    • See the flowers, smell the flowers, photograph the flowers, but PLEASE let them continue serving their purpose for the plant. Keeping in mind the rule of accumulation: one flower gone from the forest won’t hurt anything, but imagine if everyone did the same? 
  3. Watch your step.
    • OK, so when I did this flower hike, my head was on a swivel. I was looking up into the canopy, down around my feet, and out along the undergrowth. Be mindful that spring is also when our danger noodle (snake) friends awaken from their wintery slumber (See previous post [link]). They are active and looking for food. Additionally, this is the time of year when baby plants are emerging from the topsoil. Prioritize avoiding snakes and seedlings on your quest for May flowers. 
  4. Take a photo, it lasts longer.
    • As much as I don’t appreciate using my phone while I’m focused on connecting with nature, it is awfully convenient for taking pictures. That way, not only am I preserving the memory, but I have something to reference for subsequent identification.

Now that we know how, when, and where to view this spectacle, here are a few blooms to look for (and really can’t miss) on your May meander…

May flowers of Southern Appalachia:

For more information on these featured flowers, visit these source links (in order as they appear in the post):

Great White Trillium: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/trillium_grandiflorum.shtml

Wood Anemone: https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2020/12/native-plant-wood-anemone/

Fringed Polygala: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/polygala_paucifolia.shtml

Sand Myrtle: https://www.carolinanature.com/trees/lebu.html

Thymeleaf Bluet: http://www.floralfinds.com/2017/08/14/thymeleaf-bluet/

Red Trillium: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/trillium_erectum.shtml

Vasey’s Trillium: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/trillium_vaseyii.shtml

Indian Cucumber Root: https://wildadirondacks.org/adirondack-wildflowers-indian-cucumber-root-medeola-virginiana.html

Carolina Allspice: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/calycanthus-floridus/

Wild Geranium: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/geranium_maculatum.shtml

Showy Orchid: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/galearis_spectabilis.shtml

Heartleaf Foamflower: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=tico

Mayapple: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=pope

Star Chickweed: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/stellaria-pubera/

Green False Hellebore: https://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=45866

Dwarf Crested Iris: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/beauty/iris/Dwarf_Woodland/iris_cristata.shtml

Swamp Doghobble: https://smokymountainnews.com/archives/item/13588-the-doghobble-s-claim-to-fame

Have more to share? Send us your forest flower power pics for a chance to be featured in a future post!



The danger of demonizing snakes

One question I have been posing to students a lot lately is, “What is your favorite thing about spring?” Mostly, the response has been that the weather feels warmer, which means kids get to visit the pool. Some have said they have been enjoying the flowers (minus the annual allergy battle) and they love being able to see so many more animals and insects. These longer days and warmer temperatures are a welcomed departure from the frigid winter. As we spend more time outside, so do other animals revelling in the tepid weather.

Winter-time can be tricky for animals that cannot produce their own body-heat, such as amphibians and reptiles. Snakes undergo a form of hibernation known as “brumation,” which means they are in a trance-like state to preserve as much energy as possible. Typically, they pack together in a den (a “hibernaculum,” for interested parties), to wait out the frosty season together. Early spring yields consistently warm enough temperatures for these cold-blooded (ectothermic) animals to wander out for basking and copulation. (https://varmentguard.com/blog/when-snakes-wake-up)

Some copulating brown snakes in my garden bed this spring.

By this point, I may have lost some people already just by mentioning snakes. If it helps, let’s mentally replace the word “snake” with “danger-noodle.” Indeed, there are a couple of venomous characters in the Southern Appalachia area which it pays to be mindful of (notably, the Northern Copperhead and Timber Rattlesnake, more on this later). In fact, of the 37 species of snakes found in North Carolina, 31 of them are non-venomous — not dangerous to humans. Despite many people’s reservations about snakes, or even downright fear, these animals are actually major players in the functionality of our local ecosystem.

We know about food webs: animals consuming other animals makes for predator-prey relationships specific to their environment. This means that ecosystems will be different based on what the environment is. For example, the Sahara desert is home to a completely different group of plants and animals than the Amazon rainforest. Therefore, the Sahara desert is one ecosystem and the Amazon is another. Ecosystems are defined by the dynamic of who is eating what. In this tiered system (known as a trophic system), species which manufacture their own energy from the sun are primary producers (like plants or photosynthetic plankton). Then, something eats the plants, they’re primary consumers (like cows or deer). Something eats the deer, they’re secondary consumers, etc. etc. Images depicting these relationships are often displayed as a pyramid to represent biomass ratios. Granted, ecosystems are complex, but to put it simply, the removal of keystone species from these trophic levels compromises the function of the whole system.

We know that snakes are consumers. The most common snake species found in this area target small rodents and amphibians. Yet, they themselves are targeted by large predatory birds like hawks and eagles. So, this places snakes in the secondary consumer level (or tertiary depending on who you talk to). Eliminating or even diminishing the population of snakes will mean we have an excess population of rodents and amphibians, and would minimize the food supply for the predatory birds. Ecologically, this is an unbalanced trophic system. Just like a wobbly Jenga set missing some of its pieces, it is in danger of collapsing at any further disturbance. Scientists call this a trophic cascade, which is as scary as it sounds.

Snakes as secondary consumers in the ecological or trophic pyramid. 

Let’s get back to our local snake friends. Which ones are common, which ones are dangerous, and what do we do when we find them?

Statistically, if you come across a snake around here, it is likely to be non-venomous. These days, we can take a picture with our cell-phones from a distance, execute the wisdom of simply traveling a different direction, and refer to the photo later for identification. Such identification can be achieved through a quick process of elimination. Of the 2 local venomous species, both have variations of brown, black, and copper shading on their skin and sport a distinctly triangular head.

In my opinion, venomous and non-venomous species should all just be left alone. Many accidents happen when people start messing with snakes by relocating or even trying to kill them. This behavior is a common one that humans exhibit when we are afraid of something. I cannot talk you out of feeling an intrinsic human emotion, but I do implore you suppress reactive fear. Consider where you are. If you are on a hike in the forest and there is a timber rattlesnake across the path (this has actually happened to me), then perhaps your best move is to make haste back to the trailhead and call the forest service. If you are at home and find a copperhead under your canoe, a wise reaction would be to leave it alone and call a specialist to remove it. In every case, there are people trained to handle venomous snakes, other than yourself. It is also worth mentioning that both of our venomous species are protected in North Carolina, which means it is unlawful (albeit, unwise) to harass, harm, or kill them.

Biologically, snakes are COOL. You can help kids relate to this fact by having them try a movement activity. Have them lie on the ground or floor on their stomachs and try to move in the forward direction, without their hands. How amazing is it that snakes not only can move forward (quickly!), but can also climb?! And, as they mature, they literally grow out of their skin, which has to be shed periodically. With all of their unrivaled adaptations, they are also ecologically critical. So, the next time you find a snake, we encourage you to view this danger-noodle as an animal that stabilizes the ecosystem and values its personal space.

For more information on the snakes of North Carolina, go to: http://herpsofnc.org/snakes/


Nature-Immersion to Address Stress

A look into outdoor education following a formidable year of stressors.

I’ve been an environmental educator for almost a third of my life. There is absolutely no other feeling like watching a kid’s face light up when they discover something new to them, their pride in getting to create something, or the pure joy experienced by simply running around outside. The past year, these moments have seemed more poignant than ever.

Is there anything more fun than building fairy houses outside with your friends??

I would be a broken record to harp on the challenges that this year has brought to businesses, families, and individuals. It really has just felt like everyone is doing their very best just to keep it together. As much as the adults hoped to shield their kids from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, it is apparent that our youth has been significantly affected. I say this because we have all seen it. While adults have a lifetime of tools they can employ to endure hardships, kids simply do not yet have ample life-experience from which to draw. In light of the magnitude and duration of the pandemic, the kids we see every day are doing the very best they can…and we can help.

The mental health benefits of being outside

The World Health Organization (WHO) frames mental health in terms of one’s behavior during times of stress. A person who is able to maintain some semblance of a state of well-being, autonomy, and psychological resilience (the ability to “bounce back” from stress) during tumultuous times is “mentally healthy” (WHO, 2002). This same understanding applies to children.

A 2016 study conducted by Mutz and Müller explored the hypothesis that outdoor adventures enhanced the mental health of children and young adults. They found that “outdoor excursions foster those psychological factors which are associated with resilience, well-being and good health.” Time outside and immersion in nature are resources that are always available and never dwindle. They can be employed as tools for therapy, emotional cognizance, and development of autonomous skills. Environmental engagement can also be used as a preventative measure. Kids that seem to take stress in-stride still reap the same magnitude of benefits from nature as those who are struggling.

This message from one of our partner schools pretty much sums it up!

Outdoor learning with Mountain Roots

Mountain Roots was founded with the idea that kids simply need more exposure to nature. We have known for a long time that a derivative of nature-immersion is its ability to transcend almost anything else that is happening around us. For years, I have watched kids experience so much unbridled glee by running around outside, or going on a hike, or going for a swim. Considering the absolute physical, mental, and emotional immersion that nature provides, it is no wonder that engagement with the natural environment stimulates children’s imagination and delight so completely.

Tree-climbing and playing with sticks is valuable nature-time for kids.

In the context of this past year, the service that Mountain Roots has been providing to the community has felt even more significant than usual. It has felt like a crucial provision of stress-relief for students and adults, alike. At the K-8 school where we facilitate a full-term Outdoor Education class, written into the curriculum are lessons intended to simply check-in with students. To us, conducting social and emotional discussions in the backdrop of nature connects young people with the notion that the outdoor space is a safe one. According to the aforementioned Mutz and Müller study, following “an outdoor adventure, youths and young adults report lower levels of stress, particularly with regards to troubles and demands.” Additionally, these same groups reported an enhancement of self-efficacy, mindfulness, and “momentary happiness and life satisfaction,” defined as “subjective well-being.” Professionally, I can attest that it is the intention of our programming to emphasize these mental-health benefits whilst developing a positive relationship with nature. Personally, I get to bear witness to these benefits on a daily-basis, an enterprise that feels both fulfilling and important.   

Mountain Roots participants working together on a lesson outside.

Mutz, M. & Müller, J. (2016). Mental health benefits of outdoor adventures: Results from two pilot studies. Journal of Adolescence, 49, 105-114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2016.03.009

World Health Organization (WHO). (2002). The world health report 2001. Mental Health: new understanding, new hope. Geneva.


What Is Mountain Roots Outreach?

Anyone who follows Mountain Roots’ social media content may have noticed recent posts about outreach. Indeed, our Spring 2021 Outreach Program is up and running, signaling a major annual pivot for us. This is when we, as an organization, transition from winter administration, curriculum development, and project management to full-swing execution mode (basically over night). It’s always an exciting time for Mountain Roots to take immediate advantage of the warmer, longer days and celebrate western North Carolina’s emergence from hibernation. What a better way to do this than to get as many kids as possible outside!

Outreach is an organization’s point-of-contact with the community at large. For Mountain Roots, this is a multi-institutional endeavor, unified under the common goal of facilitating meaningful outdoor time for kids. This spring, we get to work with staff and students from Brevard Elementary School, Pisgah Forest Elementary School, Rosman Elementary School, and TC Henderson School of Science and Technology.

“Field Trip Day”

Remember when it was “field trip day,” at school and you anticipated getting to have new experiences with your classmates? Personally, I have more memories from class field trips than almost anything else in school. Why? Because these excursions disrupted the monotony of school days, weeks, months and gave us something to tangibly experience together. Things that happened on field trips (whether intended or not) were talked about for years! Unfortunately, the 2020-2021 school year has made it much more difficult to safely execute these adventures. That’s why we believe this program is more important than ever, bringing the field trip experience to school campuses and exposing students to a whole new way of seeing their own school. 

Outreach participants building structures using materials from the forest behind their school.

As an Outreach Instructor, I speak to a lot of teachers in local schools. I want to get a sense of how they feel about the students’ collective status and how Mountain Roots can support them. In several cases, teachers vocalize the underutilization of outdoor teaching spaces, even though every school in the area has one.

For every Mountain Roots Outreach class, we ask the teacher of that class to come outside with us. This, because you can imagine how helpful it is to have an adult present who knows everyone’s names and tendencies. But something else is happening, too. Teachers participate in the employment of these incredible outdoor spaces and hopefully get ideas in how to perpetuate their use. We hope to create poignant moments where students come up to us after a class and say, “Hey! That was FUN!” That’s right kids, playing outside is actually fun. The world is crazy, adults are stressed, iPads have battery lives, but nature is the playground that never closes.

The phenomenal outdoor classroom space at Brevard Elementary School

Mobile Outdoor Ed

The best way I can describe this part of my job is that it is mobile outdoor education. We come to you! The best thing is that this program is 100% free for every student that participates and we would very much like to keep it that way. All kids deserve the opportunity to connect with nature, the community, and themselves through a specialized curriculum. All kids deserve to get a break from classroom walls and screens to breathe some fresh air. All kids deserve to form new memories through novel experiences with their classmates. Mountain Roots’ success can hardly be quantified; it is measured through the joy of the people we serve: the students. (Or, in my case, the follow-up “air high-fives” from kids as they make their way back into the school following a Mountain Roots class).

Fun in the sun- and trees- creates memories and a connection with nature.

5 Outdoor Winter Activities

Winter in western North Carolina usually includes the whole spectrum of precipitation. Some days are cold and blustery, others sunny and breezy, so it can be difficult to make a plan for activities. Once you have exhausted indoor options: baking cookies, holiday-decorating, hot chocolate and movies, you’ll find that the whole crew becomes prone to the stir-crazies. Luckily, there are ways to get the family outside, even with the wintery whiplash that WNC tends to offer. 

1- Bird-watching : Going on a walk with your family is a wonderful way to get out of the house and bond with your surroundings. However, some children may struggle with a stroll without the motivation of a “job.” If you have binoculars, now would be the time to dust them off and bring them along. Dress for the weather and enjoy the spectacular bird-watching that WNC has to offer, even in the winter! If multiple kids are involved, bring a notepad along and see who can find the most birds. For older kids, challenge them to differentiate the species. Who can find the highest variety of birds? From Bird Watcher’s Digest, you’re looking for smaller woodland birds like the Chickadee (with its distinctive call), titmice, Cardinals, jays, kinglets, thrushes, and sparrows. You may even get lucky to spot a woodpecker, like the famed Pileated, or a predatory raptor, like the sizable Cooper’s hawk. If you can’t identify a species, don’t worry! The fun is in the journey you get to share with each other. Make note of its characteristics and you can figure it out later. [Foul weather modification: Bird feeders are popular commodities for the avian population this time of year. By setting up a mixed-seed feeder at your house, you’re likely to attract all of these species to you! Winter is an especially great time to hang a suet feeder for woodpeckers, when it’s cold enough to keep the suet’s oily binding a solid. From the coziness of your own house, families can still engage with nature.]

2- Scavenger Hunt : On-theme with incorporating goals into a family outdoor-stroll, scavenger hunts are fun to design and rewarding to execute! This is an excellent opportunity for younger kids to practice identifying properties of nature. For example, “I want you to find me five things: something red, something flexible, something heavy, something soft, and something smooth.” Kids get to connect with nature via their sense of touch and apply words to what they’re experiencing (plus they can practice counting). Bonus: get kids to build a structure with the different materials they have found! They love the activity of trial and error with less-familiar materials and especially appreciate being able to share their constructs. Older kids can be challenged by scavenger lists that entail differentiating species. For example, 5th-8th-grade students could be instructed to find an oak, maple, and a poplar leaf in addition to other items. Ultimately, you know your child best. This activity is an opportunity for guardians to be creative and design a hunt that gets kids engaging with nature! [Foul weather modification: indoor scavenger hunt! List items in your home which are somewhat concealed and challenging to find.] 

3- Bouldering : Of the 5 Outdoor Winter Activity suggestions, this option requires the most equipment and preparation. Yet it presents an opportunity of fairly unstructured play. When I was young, growing up in Transylvania County, my parents were constantly trying to keep my sister and I out of the trees (to no avail). They eventually gave up and just told us to be careful. Now, I attribute our full-day tree-climbing adventures to who I am as an adult. All day, kids have adults telling what to do, when, how, and why. Wherein such formatting provides kids with much-needed direction, it wouldn’t hurt to give them the reigns of their lives sometimes, too. For the developing mind and body, climbing is hailed as a superfood. It also just so happens that western North Carolina is brimming with indoor and outdoor climbing opportunities. In particular, bouldering (distinguished from sport rock climbing), requires the least equipment. Climbing shoes, chalk, and a pad will get you and your family out in the woods for many afternoons to come. Moreover, kids get to approach a climbing problem with autonomous fortitude. “You mean, I am actually allowed to climb this and no one will tell me ‘no’?” On a sunny afternoon, it can get up to the mid 40’s or 50’s here in the winter, which is excellent weather for climbing. Check out Pisgah National Forest for boulder fields. For fowl weather, many climbing gyms offer day passes and even lessons for the beginner climbers. My recommendation, do plenty of research and know safety measures before facilitating a climbing session. 

4- Snowflake Science : Let’s say we are having one of those white winters that sweeps western North Carolina every few years. The kids are home from school (again), everyone is tired of being on computers and distance learning…sounds like a prime opportunity to get outside. This snowflake science activity is a great way for families to enjoy a snowy day, while learning together! It requires a black paper and a magnifying glass. Put the paper outside in the cold (but not the snow) for about 15 minutes so that it equalizes with the outside temperature. Then, if it is actively snowing, let a few flakes fall on the paper and they should be there for a few moments for you to observe before they melt! You can even sprinkle some snow on the paper (spreading out the flakes as much as possible). Did you know that snowflakes always have 6 sides? It can take up to 100,000 water vapor droplets to create a single snowflake! This activity is adaptable for older children as well, to initiate a discussion about the molecular structure of water and why it is such a cool (and valuable) medium.

5- Hiking : It is no secret that the hiking opportunities in this area are second-to-none. Whether you are a novice hiker, experienced, or something in-between, there will be something here for you. In fact, the challenge lies in choosing hikes that suit you and your family’s ability. Hikes can become definitively not fun for anyone if they turn out to be miles more than you expect. Though we at Mountain Roots tend to limit the amount of condoned technology, I do think it is worth mentioning to download the free “All Trails” app on your smartphone. That way you can decide on a hike from the comfort of your couch, download the map layers before leaving (while you know you have service), and not have to think twice about making a wrong turn on your hike. That being said, a good ol’ fashion paper map may be a great opportunity to teach young ones how to navigate. Bonus: if you have a compass, this also might be a time for kids to learn about the cardinal directions and how to find them! You may be thinking, “Winter? Hiking?…not two things I would typically put together.” Let me tell you from quite a lot of experience: this is the time of year to do it. First of all, despite our instinct to hibernate in our warm homes, we all need to get out. Even the drive to the trail head can be a part of the adventure. Secondly, the spring, fall, and summer are notorious seasons for tourists in the area. Who wants to go hiking when the trails are literally crowded with people from all over the country? And third, winter hiking is beautiful. Icicles form from groundwater sources, waterfalls and rock features are visible from much further away with the loss of deciduous tree leaves, rhododendron leaves close and unfurl based on the temperature, while evergreen ground-cover plants are vibrant among the dead leaves. Views are as spectacular as ever and the family gets to enjoy it together. For easier, sloping hikes and lots of waterfalls, check out DuPont State Forest. Technical hikes that tend to intersect with beautiful water systems are numerous in Pisgah National Forest. Bundle with layers and enjoy the journey! 

The great thing about these suggested activities is that they involve creativity by the facilitator. It depends on the severity of the weather, the amount of time you have at your disposal, and your family’s propensity for adventure. However, it is important to disrupt our tendency to rely on indoor exercises, especially when winter in western North Carolina is ripe for exploration!

Our FAVORITE Activity to Celebrate Spring!

Don’t get me wrong, we love winter in Western North Carolina. Winter is the time when we are the most creative in coming up with things for our children to do outside.

BUT, Winter 2021 felt like it lasted decades and we are SO excited to welcome spring. As such, we’ve decided to let you in on our favorite activity to get the whole family in the fresh air, celebrating the change in seasons.

BINGO is an activity that we reach for multiple times per year as a full-sensory exercise. Why do we love it so much? First of all, it’s versatile. Nature BINGO, Autumn BINGO, Bird BINGO…even Indoor BINGO for rainy days gets kids setting goals, engaging with all of their senses, and implements the tactile action of “checking off” a task. Plus, it’s fun, for everyone involved (I challenge any adults taking part in this activity to not smile once!).

We have developed a FREE, Printable version of Spring BINGO. Print out the 4 sheets (or two if you’re a small family), pick your team name, and see how many “moments of spring” you can find! To make this activity reusable, we recommend slipping the sheets into sheet protectors and using dry-erase markers to keep track of what you’ve found.

Keep an ear out for spring peeper frogs, singing their seasonal tunes; keep an eye out for a stream or river; you might find violets, flowering trees, new saplings, or soaring birds of prey. From the ground to the sky is fair game. Good job to whoever marks a line of squares first; GREAT job to whoever can check off all the boxes on the whole sheet! And happy spring!

What is Mountain Roots Day Camp?

As I write this, I’m watching the tops of the tallest tulip poplars sway in a balmy breeze. Their unique, heavy blossoms falling to the ground as the first true thunderstorm of the season heads our way from the west. For most schools, the 2020-2021 academic year has ended, concluding an imposing chapter for educators, families, and…pretty much everyone. It’s summer, finally. Growing up in WNC, that meant floating down the Davidson, exploring Pisgah National Forest, camping by the French Broad, and finding waterfalls in DuPont State Forest. It meant trying all of the new ice cream flavors at Dolly’s, visiting family, and going to summer camp.

The humid warmth in the air brings back memories of every summer I ever spent in Transylvania County. Today, there is something especially invigorating about this easterly summer breeze. As the season changes, we are emerging from a period of collective fear and anxiety into one of healing and hope. For the Mountain Roots team, it means that we are in full-swing preparation mode to host the best day camp season yet. 

Just because the school year is over, doesn’t mean learning should be.

On a personal note, I feel like one of the luckiest people alive to have grown up in WNC. That is why I am now in the business of facilitating experiences right here in my hometown. Also on a personal note, I believe that kids have had plenty of screen time (this year especially). At Mountain Roots Day Camp, we emphasize green time. This means being outside, with friends, in nature. I suppose in this way, we are also in the business of making memories.

From behind the scenes, “Day Camp preparation mode” has the Mountain Roots team creating and editing activities, discussing staff training, inventorying supplies, buying new activity materials, communicating with guardians, tracking registrations, and adapting safety policies in real time to CDC and state guidelines. Among other things.

This, to say, we leave no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring that every individual child has the best experience imaginable at Day Camp. Daily schedules for each age group deliberately balance activities with elements of movement, art, creativity, music, relaxation, science, and free-time play. There is a weekly-intended theme, which guides the activity development and ensures that every week feels special for multi-week campers.

Experiences and Memories

On June 14th, campers, wide-eyed and ready for anything, will be showing up on Brevard Academy School’s campus. Brevard Academy, in Pisgah Forest, has graciously agreed to serve as the Day Camp venue this year, providing us with ample space for activities and exploration. We look forward to welcoming back our returning campers (some of whom are now among this year’s Day Camp staff) and receiving a whole new crew of kids ready to have some fun!

Mountain Roots will be offering 7 weeks of Camp this summer.  The progression of the Mountain Roots Day Camp program allows individuals to participate consecutively from ages 4 to 24. Starting with a half day preschool camp for 4-5 year olds, a full day camp for rising 1st-5th graders, Roots Crew program for middle school students, and staff positions for high school, college, and beyond! This summer will be another extra powerful summer for appreciating the simple joys of life together, exploring, playing, and learning together! For more information about Mountain Roots’ Outdoor Education and Day Camp programs, visit www.MountainRoots.org or email info@mountainroots.org.