If you’re looking for something to do for the Earth Day season, it’s amazing what can be captured at a neighborhood creek cleanup. Maybe a weight bench, a bucket of concrete, or—if you’re lucky—the hearts and minds of a rowdy troop of girl scouts.
With so much hand-wringing about how to connect kids with nature, this way was easy and free. Asking the kids why they were there on a chilly Saturday morning for this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, helping the planet was secondary. Their first words were always, “It’s fun!”
The Northern Virginia scouts were part of an army of 7,000 rivershed dwellers who trolled the tributaries on April 10. All told, they hauled out 19,000 bags of junk and 994 tires, eight of which from our location.
Nina and her husband, Bob, organized the site – one of 214 across Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
According to Nina, the key to getting a good catch is to follow behind the first wave of volunteers who grab obvious things like radiators and roof shingles. She likens her technique to the way her kids scan the pages of ‘Eye Spy’ books for small objects hidden in cluttered background scenes. “If you just stop and look, things just emerge.”
As we did our bit for Mother Earth, she gifted us in return. I pulled out my phone to take a picture of astonishing, perfect footprints of a great blue heron. Another shallow creekbend swirled with tadpoles.
Stretching for some styrofoam shards, I finally stepped in over my boots. Turning tentatively to Nina—who happens to be a marine biologist—I asked about snakes. “That’s why it’s good to do this now. They’re not awake yet.”
“Asking the kids why they were there on a chilly Saturday morning for this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, helping the planet was secondary. Their first words were always, “It’s fun!”
Out of the mouths of babes!
I’m from Erie and love Presque Isle. Take a look at “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv. Louv – who has championed getting kids out in nature – believes that kids won’t grow up to be effective adults unless they are allowed to take some risks. Perhaps you could push the scouting admin. by suggesting some commonsense safety guidelines. Rubber gloves and rubber boots should address health concerns. The girls need to get out there and get wet!
My Girl Scout troop participated for years in the local Presque Isle Cleanup, and it is, indeed, a rewarding experience. (Too bad the organization banned participation due to possible dangers and health concerns. Now scouts can only help by serving lunch to the other volunteers.)