Boston ICO and St. Peter’s Teen Center spent the brisk Saturday afternoon hiking, exploring, and learning at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.
After some quick name introductions and an overview of the day, the ten 6th graders, St. Peter’s staff leader (Addy), and five ICO volunteers (Susie, Lucy, Nafiseh, Andrew, and Hayat) departed from St. Peter’s and headed up to Topsfield Massachusetts.
Upon arriving at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, we were greeted by our guide Cori. We headed over to the nature center for a little hands on information session about our day ahead. Cori gave us some background information on the sanctuary, its features, and the three main animals we were hoping to see (beavers, muskrats, and otters). The kids answered some questions and some things were passed around for them to examine including beaver fur and otter scat with fish scales in it!
After our information session, we bundled up and headed out on our guided hike along some of the many trails of the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. We got to use all our senses as Cori pointed out sights like beaver lodges and chewed trees, sounds of running water, and even smells where the animals marked their territories. The kids loved sending the cattail seeds flying into the wind and climbing through a manmade rock cave. At one point we even had to step over an occupied beaver lodge that the beavers built right across a bridge along the trail.
After our guided hike we took a break and had a nice picnic lunch while trying to keep warm with some hot coco. The kids were fascinated with the hand warmers Susie passed out as we cleaned up and got ready to head back out on the trials for some self guided exploration.
For the second part of our day we hiked along stretches of the Ipswich River and throughout the woods of the sanctuary. We got a great view of the land from high up in an observation tower. The kids really took a liking to Lucy’s idea of finding and using walking sticks as we went. As we neared the end of our hike we got a great surprise when some other hikers pointed out a group of deer grazing in a nearby field. It was a great way to end our hiking and wildlife experience.
At the closing circle everyone shared what their favorite part of the day was. Some of the highlights included seeing the dear and ducks, climbing through the rock cave and over the beaver lodge, and finding strange looking fruit we learned to be osage oranges.
We ended the day playing a couple rounds of Wonderball. Even though we never quite got the Wonderball song down it made for some good laughs and use of our osage oranges!
Thank you to the ICO volunteers Susie, Lucy, Nafiseh, Andrew, and Hayat, Addy our St. Peter’s staff leader, Cori our Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary guide, and the great kids
Link to the photos can be found here: