Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Fun Idea: Lewis and Clark Activity Guides

More than 200 years ago, the Corps of Discovery spent an incredibly difficult winter at their destination, the Pacific Ocean. Their time here, along the Columbia River, at Fort Clatsop and on the Pacific makes for riveting reading in their journals. But, for those of us who live or visit the Pacific Coast, there is also the opportunity to see the places they stayed, walk the paths where they walked, and discover first hand some of the challenges they faced.

Several years ago, as part of the bicentennial celebration of arrival of the expedition to their destination, the Pacific Ocean, Oregon Public Broadcasting, in collaboration with the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and Destination: The Pacific, (and me as the writer) designed THE LEWIS AND CLARK ACTIVITY GUIDES, seven day trips to bring the spirit (and experiences) of the Corps to life.

No matter your age, a visit to the places where the Corps "wintered" (and almost starved) more than 200 years ago is an inspiring opportunity to walk in the steps of history and explore spectacular natural beauty.

And there is no better way to discover what they experienced than to take the time to travel the expedition's route. Each of these activity guides (available online, and as printable PDFs) offer a wonderful way for families to get outdoors, visit the beach, and spend quality time discovering some of our local history. Each day's activity focuses on a particular aspect of the Corps' accomplishments and adventures, every trip includes visits to parks in Washington or Oregon, interpretive information, historic sites, trails, beaches and scenic views. They include places to visit, tips and resources, and a learning activity.

These day-long adventures are designed to include something for everyone — the nature lover, the scientist, the history buff, the boat lover, the path finder, the foodie, the writer, the photographer, the artist, and of course, the family seeking a wonderful way to combine learning with fun. After all, school is ending soon and the sun might come out, tomorrow (or maybe some other day). But, weather or not, parents will be on the lookout for fun, fascinating, inexpensive (and hopefully educational) summer adventures.

ART TIP: Meriwether Lewis filled his journals with sketches of animals, plants and flowers he encountered on the expedition. There will be almost as many opportunities for your creative kids to sketch what they see. Be sure to pack a sketch pad, pencils and color pencils or markers to encourage young artists to capture birds, butterflies, seascapes, flowers, or the family having fun.

Note: About the photos. I took these while exploring the sites to write about. As I was heading to Fort Clatsop, where the Corps spent the winter, particularly hoping to find elk to eat, a large group of elk stepped out of the woods and into the road! The beach photo shows the place where members of the Corps, with Sacajawea (seeing the ocean for the first time) came to collect whale meat.