The Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) reluctantly cancelled most of its public events this year due to the pandemic. This included its series of ‘Discovery’ field workshops in which expert naturalists would have led guided tours of MMLT’s properties.

However, the planning team for the annual Festival of the Wild Child was determined to hold the event this year if at all possible. The Festival is much more than just a fundraiser for MMLT; it engages children with nature, helping to foster a life-long love of wild places. In consultation with the Leeds Grenville Health Unit, they came up with a plan that would be fun for the children, while providing a safe environment for all participants including the more than 20 volunteers.

The day involved a variety of scavenger hunts at the High Lonesome Nature Reserve, MMLT’s property near Pakenham. This allowed the children and their parents to explore various aspects of nature without clustering in larger groups. Families (and “social bubbles”) selected from a list of adventures (Pond Life, Beaver Pond, Wild Mammals, Amazing Amphibians or Magical Fairies) and were given start times. Volunteers staffed the stations along the trail, sanitized the privies and controlled the numbers on site at all times.

Over the course of a lovely late summer day at the end of August, 120 children and their parents came and connected with nature. The grateful comments from parents and the excitement of the children made it all worthwhile. Some families who have attended the Festival of the Wild Child in the past have become regular visitors to High Lonesome and our other properties – rediscovering nature as the seasons change.

MMLT protects and preserves wilderness and promotes engagement with nature. If you would like to learn more about us and perhaps become a member, please visit mmlt.ca or call 613 253-2722.