Sauntering Through an Unforgettable Camping Adventure

Farah AnwarNPF Blog
Group of youth hiking in a wooded forest with backpacking gear
– Dawn Kish

The National Park System is a haven for all types of campers. Whether you are looking for a bustling campsite or a backcountry experience, an ocean view or a mountain view, fishing and hiking or just a good time around a campfire with s’mores and ghost stories, camping offers something for everyone!

In the summer of 2016, the National Park Foundation helped local Wisconsinite youth experience camping through the Saunters program at Ice Age National Scenic Trail. During the Ice Age, much of North America lay under a huge glacier and the nearly 1,200-mile national scenic trail, established in 1980, traces the edge of one of these glacier's.

Group of youth in the wilderness with both hands raised
Dawn Kish

The Saunters program honors Henry David Thoreau’s statement, “It is a great art to saunter,” while infusing core educational concepts into trips on the Ice Age Trail. The program is a collaboration between the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, school districts, and community groups across Wisconsin dedicated to taking youth on hikes.

On this particular trip, 35 students and 12 teachers from three schools participated in a four-day and three-night backpacking trip. Students prepared for the trip with a first aid refresher, reminders on safety precautions, and a guided packing list. Participants started off the journey with a 12-mile hike to the campsite at Lake Eleven.

Boy in a tent setting it up in the wilderness
Dawn Kish

While on these adventures, kids take part in a variety of activities connected to the Common Core and/or Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, learned how to set up their tents, and of course had a campfire! In addition to the real-world education, Saunterers benefit from the physical activity of extensive hikes, gaining confidence and improving their physical and mental well-being throughout the trip.

This adventure connected the students to nature and inspired a thirst for knowledge and the outdoors. Ultimately, the hope is that it will encourage them to return to not only Ice Age National Scenic Trail but to explore the numerous campsites and experiences to be had across the National Park System.

Girl holding frog in hand with rest of group on trail behind
Dawn Kish

This is just one of the amazing opportunities we’re helping make possible in the summer of 2016. Help us support programs that get kids and families outdoors exploring, learning, and connecting with the treasures in our national parks.

Interested in learning more about camping in our national parks? Take a look at our Gimme Shelter owner’s guide for ideas for your next camping trip!

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