Park rangers at the Cuyahoga Valley National Forest are giving children a chance to enjoy nature through a special summer camp program.
The program "Get Up, Get Out, and Go!” takes kids out of the concrete jungle and into nature. A school bus picks up the students, ages 11 to 14, from Cleveland and Akron and takes them to where the grass is greener.
“We go hiking, we play games, we do silly stories and songs,” said Pam Machuga, Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ranger.
These children come from families who can't afford to send their kids to summer camp. Machuga has found through the last 12 years of the program that these kids would not necessarily have the opportunity to be out in nature if it weren't for this camp.
Machuga says the children's reactions to nature before and after the summer program is astounding. She remembers one student's experience in particular.
“He was, like this, his arms folded, a little bit gruff,” she said.
But after a few hours a week in nature, he opened up.
“His eyes were lit up,” said Machuga, “We were looking for snapping turtles, and herring and beavers and muskrats," Machuga remembers.
Thanks to the National Park Service and a grant from the Sisters of Charity, she said these children can try s’mores, build a camp fire, set up a tent and more.
"Get Up, Get Out, and Go!” is free and open to the public through the summer.
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