Proud Lake Recreation Area – A Stepping Stones program location: Part 2

The outreach Stepping Stones program by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is designed to take urban youth to an outdoor setting while incorporating activities.

This article is a part of a series by Michigan State University Extension that provides an inside look at the Stepping Stones programs. Part 2 will continue to look at the opportunities available for youth at the Proud Lake Recreation Area.

Archery is offered at the recreation area, but is completed on the other side of the baseball diamond. Archery is one of the biggest "big ticket Items" offered by the Stepping Stones program, earning the highest reviews by all guest, children and adults. This program teaches the different parts of the bow and the arrow, the proper technique for shooting archery according to the National Archery in the Schools Program guidelines, and how to use the 9 steps to the 10 ring. Most importantly, children are taught about the safety precautions they must follow when shooting archery. After a few practice rounds to gain the basic knowledge of form and techniques, the staff allows these new shooters to test their skills by targeting objects such as balloons and playing cards.

A crucial portion of obtaining the full nature experience is the ability to go camping. The Stepping Stones program offers Camping 101, a guide for all first time campers. Children learn all about the forest and essential camping supplies. Included in this experience is learning the basics of setting up a tent and the importance of choosing the right campground. After setting up their campground, children are asked to choose what helpful household items could be used in certain less than ideal scenarios. The group is split into teams and is assigned specific scenarios. From there, the children rundown to a pile of ordinary household items and choose what they think is best for the current situation. Upon returning, they must defend why they chose that item. This allows for the children to learn about camping supplies as well exercise creative thought.

Nature exploration is more than just your average “walk in the park.” Children get to learn about all of the natural wonders in our vast State Parks. There are nature trails, nature games and opportunities to learn about different animals among many others.

Water studies encourage the children to take their shoes off and step into our waters. In Michigan, you are never more than 7 miles from a body of water, each body offering different things to explore. Children are asked to become scientist and investigate the quality of our waters. Children are also taught about macro invertebrates and their importance to the water quality.

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