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Urban Foraging at Christian Herter Park

By Aidan O'Keefe

On Tuesday, July 31st, the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program headed to some woods near the Charles River, called Christian Herter Park. We did two different things and for the first half of the day it was urban foraging. We learned about wildlife and plants with Adam, one of the adult staff at Navigation Games. He taught us about different species of edible plants, and the MSYEP kids went on their own to try to find those certain plants, throughout the park. One of the plants was a lilypad flower, which I found in a small pond near the river side of the park. We learned how to identify certain types of plants in the woods, such as purslane. An interesting part of this activity was eating what we found, and seeing what it tasted like.

For the second half of the day, we did orienteering related activities. In the first one, we exercised our memory skills by participating in an activity where we must remember the locations of certain controls on a first map, and then record those exact locations on a second map. This activity was interesting for everyone because there was a lot of competition involved, making it fun.

Also, in another activity, we drew pictures showing what the environment around the controls is supposed to look like. For example, some of the features were boulders, trails, and marshes. After we drew our descriptions, everyone else had to guess what control we drew. This activity taught us how to read maps better and recognize symbols surrounding the controls.

Our last activity that we did was called “Corridor-Grid-O”, and the objective was to read a map and navigate by turning left, right, or straight at each intersection in a grid. At each intersection there was a number, which you would count when you came to a control and if you finished correctly, then you would have added up the right numbers to a final sum. This activity would help us tell whether to turn left, right, or straight in a real course. The activity also taught us a lot about having our map oriented and keeping contact with the map.

With every activity, we got points based on how well each of us did, and in the end announced the winners in in each group!

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