The Forest Days enrichment program Little Rangers at Greenwich Botanical Center is open for registration for GBC members until November 15 and for the general public on November 16. Forest Days is the only forest-based enrichment program in Greenwich, held at GBC with access to 200 acres of forest, ponds and trails in the middle of town.
The Little Rangers program is available Tuesday and Thursday afternoons or Wednesday mornings, and the children will spend their time in the woods, rain or shine.
Co-founder Jennifer Butler, a lawyer by trade, grew up in Greenwich walking and playing at nature centers. When choosing enrichment programs for her own 3 year old daughter, she sought out a nature-based program. In her quest to find a suitable program, she was introduced to former Greenwich Public School teacher Laurel McArdle Scarlata.
Both moms realized they shared a vision of opening a true forest-based program which resulted in their researching and writing the lesson plan for Forest Days.
“Our belief is that spending unstructured time in the forest stimulates each child’s innate curiosity. Outdoor nature play develops observation skills, problem solving, logic and reasoning skills, and encourages taking risks. Activities include creating secret habitats, making forest stew, observing critters in their natural environments, going on nature walks, singing, art and free play,” Scarlata said.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and new safety measures we needed to take for the children and our staff, we realized this outdoor program provides ideal stimulation, social interaction and nature’s calm for the children,” said Meg McAuley Kaicher, President of the Board of Directors at Greenwich Botanical Center.
The schedule is fluid and child-directed. Children suit up in rain gear or with bug spray, walk down to the stumps for lunch, and then the day unfolds, with teaching moments prompted by the children’s discoveries.
“Children need time that is not structured and where they are free to play,” Butler said. “Especially now when they are online for so many hours with school and other digital programs due to social distancing.”
The Little Rangers program will be offered Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 12:15-2:45pm and Wednesday mornings, 9:30am-12:00 noon. Members: $900. Non-members: $1,050 (14 week program).
The afternoon and morning schedules flow organically from what nature presents each day.
GBC offers this an all-weather program meeting outdoors, rain or shine, in all safe conditions.
The Greenwich Botanical Center was established in 1957. It was formerly known as the Garden Education Center of Greenwich. Located at 130 Bible Street in Cos Cob, GBC is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to promoting horticulture, conservation, and the arts through educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.