Children Staying at the Hilda Barg Shelter Build Their Knowledge of Their World

Gabi Brumagin, intern at the Potomac Wildlife Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shares Occoquan Bay National Refuge Center‘s volunteer experience at the Hilda Barg shelter‘s Camp Discovery for children at the shelter.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had a memorable and unique experience with the children of the Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter. Every week of the summer, we came together for a half-day camp, filled with educational activities, crafts, and games. Each day had a specific theme, from “Flying Wild with Birds” to “Nature Adventures” and “Wilderness and Water”. On our visits to the shelter, children explored the area around them with new eyes, actively learning how birds see or how nearly everything we depend on for survival comes from plants. Not only did we visit the children at the shelter, but they also were transported to our Wildlife Refuge at Occoquan Bay and Leeslyvania State Park. We guided them through fishing activities, hikes, races, pond discovery, and crafts that they could take home with them.

The kids, though hesitant at first, really enjoyed their experiences. For many of them, this was their first time on a Wildlife Refuge, and sometimes even their first field-trip type experience. Since these kids did not have the means to go to a costly summer camp, we hopefully provided a memorable outdoors experience that will give them not only a greater care and knowledge of nature and all its creatures, but also a greater sense of self-confidence. Parents used the time while their children were at the camp to relax, have some space or work on job applications.

The impact of this on both our staff, the shelter and the community connections at large cannot be overstated. We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service greatly enjoyed our experiences, and we hope the members of the Hilda Barg community can say the same.