On a chilly morning in early December, 12 “Littles” and their “Bigs” from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County (BBBS) gathered at Kestrel’s home on the Mt. Holyoke Range. The young people stood close to their adult companions, bundled up for a winter walk. In small voices, the Littles shared their names and something they loved about winter. Snow. Ice skating. Being cozy inside.
Curiosity set the pace during the nature walk. The youth stopped to feel fuzzy sumac stems and observe ice collecting at a stream edge. They raced ahead when the path evened out and slowed down again to touch phragmites and watch ducks.
After the walk, Jen Lapis from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave a presentation on animals’ winter survival strategies. The kids had gained confidence to answer and ask questions, as they reflected on how they themselves withstand the cold. They compared the winter and summer pelts of foxes, and experienced the insulating effect of blubber via a Crisco-filled glove and a bucket of ice water before heading back outdoors for hot cocoa.
As the event wrapped up, one of the Bigs was talking with Miranda, the Program Supervisor from BBBS. “I didn’t know Serenity and Poppy were friends,” she said, gesturing at two girls giggling on the dock. Miranda replied, “I don’t think they were until today.”
Kestrel will hold three events with BBBS in 2022, providing more opportunities for youth to enhance their connection to nature, while supporting them as they develop positive relationships with others—big and little.