“I’m going to live in Sandstone,” my 9-year-old son recently declared. “Why?” I inquired. “Because the Audubon Center of the North Woods is there. And Odin, Spike, Gibwanasii, Dakota, Isis, Woody, Poppy, and Cica.”
He and his sister met these friends—a boreal owl, porcupine, male American kestrel, red tailed hawk, female American kestrel, bald eagle, domestic rabbit, and eastern screech owl—at Winter Family Weekend over President’s Day break.
It was three days filled with active learning and fun. For example, one of Daley’s favorite activities was “barn chores.” As he reports, he got to “clean the fish tank, go in the pump room, feed the birds, weigh the birds, feed the porcupine, weigh the porcupine, take the porcupine for a walk, feed salamanders, feed the rabbit, pet the rabbit, clean the rabbit’s litter box.” Working with the various education animals was perfect for an industrious kid who loves all things nature.
We spent three nights in dorm-like rooms (4 sets of bunk beds with private bathroom, one for each family). Each day we picked from a variety of activities to suit each family member’s interests and abilities. As you will see from the pictures, there was never a dull moment.
Live Raptor Demonstration – This is when Daley fell in love with birds.
Bird Banding and Snake Handling – Finley got the unique experience catching and banding a bird. As for the snake, this is my favorite picture as she overcame her hesitation and let it slither around her neck (she is much more adventurous than her mama!).
High and Low Ropes Courses – An opportunity for safe, risk-taking fun.
Ice Climbing – Daley discovered a new winter sport that he described as “really hard and fun.”
Live Music and Merry-Making – One evening, we had a dance party and folk music.
Cookie Baking and Decorating – Yum!
Nature Photography Hike – Finley was in charge of the camera. Her favorite subject was poop and her favorite perspective was really up close.
Hike at Banning State Park – Love MN State Parks.
Paint Night – Tim and I enjoyed an adult painting session guided by an artist while the kids enjoyed their own art night in another building.
Atlati Throwing and Archery – Two more new experiences for Daley.
Pizza Making and Table Cleaning – We love to eat and Daley loves to clean up. Perfect combination.
It was a well-balanced weekend of outdoor and indoor activities, some new, some familiar, but all focused on bringing our family together through nature.
The Audubon Center of the Northwoods is an hour or so south of Duluth, just off of I-35. It’s open to the public and is worth stopping in to explore their nature trails.
A big thank you to the center’s human staff for sharing their love of nature with our family. The weekend made a major impact on our kiddos, especially Daley. He connected deeply with your “wild staff.” And the learning continues. He is currently creating a series of birds of prey paintings (thanks to paint night). He plans to be a bird handler for Halloween and has been to the library to do research on eagles, owls, etc. (thanks to the raptor presentation). He wants to bring a few friends to the center for his birthday. And he is spearheading a bake sale at school to raise money for the center.
Nothing better than organic learning!
Have you been to the Audubon Center of the Northwoods? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!