CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Families looking to leave the confines of home, stretch their legs, and see some of nature’s beauty can do all that and much more with the town’s 2020 Summer Nature Book Walks program.
This do-it-yourself experience reprises last summer’s popular program with four new children’s books that can be read while walking along trails in four of the town’s less frequented nature preserves.
The town has once again partnered with its Open Space, Trails, and Riverfront Committee and the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library to provide families with a way to walk the trails in four of nature preserves and stopping every so often to read laminated pages from a recently published children’s book.
Four new books and a summer stroll through nature at a convenient time of your own choosing; what could be better? Complete all four tours and receive a small prize from the library.
One trail route at each of the four parks will have a laminated children's book posted, page by page, along the way allowing readers to walk, stop, and read a page at a time. Once a page is completed the group can move on when ready and walk towards the next page which will be posted up ahead.
Unlike last year’s self-stamp passport program to show tour completion, this year’s tours have been modified to be touch-free. The library is relying on a more traditional verification process, the honor system.
The nature preserves and the trails that have been selected are flat, accessible and allow families to practice all current social distancing protocols during their park visits.
Open Space, Trails, and Riverfront Committee member Kristin Murphy has put the 2020 tour together as she did in 2019.
“As a member of the Open Space Committee my job is to come with ways to get people into our parks and this is one of the ways to do that,” she said. “Story walks or book walks are popular all over the country and we have such beautiful parks and preserves with wonderful trails I just thought it was a good way to get people to enjoy them.”
The tour setup includes purchasing two copies of each book, taking them apart, laminating them, putting the posts in the ground along the trails and attaching the book pages and covers to the posts.
Murphy said she used four nature preserves that are less populated but still accessible to strollers so people can see the variety of nature preserves available and make it easier to social distance.
“I heard from families who had strollers on the tours that one of the preserves we used last year was too hilly so I switched that one with another,” Murphy said. “We’ll also keep the tours up longer. Last year it was only for two weeks and we heard from people they missed out because they were away. This year the tours are up until Labor Day.”
Melinda Taormina, Head of Youth Services for the library, said last year’s program took six months of preparation and with the COVID-19 pandemic she was unsure if a Summer Book Walk program for 2020 was even possible. But after getting a query from Clifton Park Open Space Coordinator Jen Viggiani, checking with Murphy, and getting approval for financial reimbursement from the Friends of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, the tour preparations moved forward at lightning speed.
“The kids have been cooped up for quite a while and this is something new they can do and it’s free,” Taormina said. “Families do the walks together and this year they can go back if they want because they’ll be up longer.”
As was done last year, photos taken by families while taking the tours will be posted in the library lobby.
The first tour went up on July 17 at Garnsey Park on Route 146, Clifton Park. The book on this tour is, Bats at the Library.
Other Nature Book Walks going up are: July 24 at Hayes Nature Park, Moe Road, Clifton Park. The book here is, Bruce’s Big Storm.
July 30 at Veteran’s Memorial Park (Elks Trail), McElroy Road, Clifton Park. The book here is, Sun: One In A Billion.
Aug. 1 at Northwoods Nature Preserve, between Nos. 38 and 40 Shadow Wood Way, Clifton Park. The book here is, Over and Under the Pond.
Photograph a selfie in front of each book then email the photo to the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library at: email@example.com for posting on Facebook, Instagram, or Library lobby.