Programs Aim to Introduce Dallas Ft. Worth Kids to Mother Nature

Programs Aim to Introduce Dallas Ft. Worth Kids to Mother Nature
GRANBURY -- Taking a break from gathering wood for a campfire, Bradi Ledbetter, 12, acknowledged that she doesn't like to spend much time outdoors unless it's winter.

And then only to jump on her trampoline.

But this week the sixth-grader at Fort Worth's St. Paul Lutheran School was excited -- and a wee bit nervous -- about her first camping trip.

"I'm terrified of snakes and bugs," Bradi said. "But my friends are all here, and it looks like fun."

Getting youngsters like Bradi energized about the outdoors is the goal of the education outreach program at Camp Fire USA's Camp El Tesoro, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

In an effort to overcome what Richard Louv, in Last Child in the Woods, called nature-deficit disorder, students spend their time learning about fossils, wildflowers, insects and more and spend the nights in cabins.

"The outdoors really is a treasure for us to teach to children so that they can take care of nature in the future," said Susan Merrill, the camp's director of programs. "This year we have about tripled the number of schools coming out."

On Thursday morning, third-graders from Alvarado Elementary North were participating in a nature challenge. Team captain Kayli Nearn, 9, took her turn being blindfolded as she tried to sort fossil types by touch.

"It was hard being blindfolded, but you can tell them apart when you look at them," Kayli said. "The gastropods are twirly…
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