Trails Day celebration includes literary event for children
By Jennifer Holloway - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Fri., Jun. 10, 2011
Connecticut Trails Day Celebration 2011 took place on June 4 and 5, with 190 events statewide. In Enfield, the Scantic River Watershed Association held its traditional hike through Powder Hollow to view the remains of Col. Augustus Hazard’s powder company. In addition to hiking the 2-mile trail, children had the opportunity to participate in a StoryWalk.
Created by Anne Ferguson of Vermont, StoryWalk combines nature, physical activity and literacy. A book is taken apart, and pages are posted on stakes every few feet along a trail. Children walk from page to page to read the entire story.
Christie Michaud, owner of Tell Me a Story, read about the concept in “Family Fun” magazine and found it to be a perfect match for goals she already pursues through her business. “I’m promoting reading for fun,” Michaud said. “It’s not a chore; it enhances our lives and gives us opportunities.”
Michaud creates literary gift baskets that pair books with related toys. “When you give children the tools to play out a book, they enjoy it and come back,” she said.
Before both groups set out on their hikes, “Col. Hazard,” played by Elliot Levy, made an appearance to give the history of the powder company and the area. Levy, a Civil War reenactor, started hiking in Powder Hollow six years ago. He told hikers how Hazard provided 40 percent of the Union army’s powder during the Civil War, as well as how 68 people died in the 17 explosions at the mill during its 78-year history.
Out on the trail, one group set out to find remains of the powder company, while the other read through “I Saw It in the Garden,” by Martin Brennan, one page at a time.
Christie Gleeson, of Enfield, brought her daughters to participate in the StoryWalk. “Any time you can get them out on a nature walk and include literacy is good,” she said. They hike trails near the river often, Gleeson said, but this was their first time doing so in this manner.
For four little girls, reading through the book became a scavenger hunt of sorts. They read a page, then bolted down the trail looking for the next one. Close to the river, one stopped short, pointing at a blue heron perched across the water. All of the adults and children crept quietly to the bank to watch, as the heron flew down the river in front of them.
After reading the last page of the book, the girls continued to see what they could find on their nature walk. Shelby, age 6, found a dead fish, which immediately became her favorite part of the day.
Michaud’s goal was for children to appreciate the joy of reading. They found joy not only in a new way of reading, but also in discovering the world around them.