In 2015 an eco-club was born in Muskoka by the name of Little Sprouts. The group started small, with only eleven children at the very first meeting which was held at Gull Lake Park in Gravenhurst.
Very quickly word caught on, our littles brought friends and with every monthly outing our numbers increased. What started as a small group of environmentally focused parents wanting to teach our children to love and protect nature, has blossomed into a community of nearly 600 local parents that follow along online and attend outings when they can.
The Little Sprouts Philosophy
The eco-club is affiliated with Muskoka Conservancy which allows us to use a wealth of information and experts on environmental issues to help educate the group. We teach children to protect nature by getting to know it better, and that has always been the philosophy of the eco-club.
We are fortunate to be surrounded by so many trails, forests, and lakes in Muskoka. By immersing our children in the wilderness of our area at a young age they’re learning to protect it and will continue to do so as they mature.
As a club, we meet in all weather. We’ve planted trees in the pouring rain and examined tree branches with a magnifying glass on a -20°C day. Of all the outings we’ve done as a group, the ones in the less-than-perfect weather conditions have always been the most memorable.
There’s something about rain suits and splashing in puddles with dripping faces that makes for a great day for us all!
What the Eco-Club Entails
Outings are typically held on the last Saturday or Sunday of each month. Anyone is welcome to attend, and parents stay for the outing as well. We welcome whole families to join in the fun.
Examples of outings we have done in the past include: a tour of the local recycling plant, learning to fish, tree planting, picking up litter, learning about frogs, making bird houses, picking blueberries and more.
The average age ranges from 4 – 8 years old but we also see many younger and older siblings that join in as well.
Outings are always free, but some have a capacity limit depending on the type of event.
How to Become a Little Sprout
The first step in becoming a Little Sprout is to join the Facebook group, which you can find by searching Little Sprouts Eco-Club in Muskoka on Facebook.
The Facebook page is the first place where our events are announced, and you will also find information about other great activities and local outings that are environmentally focused.
When an event is posted, simply add yourself as “attending” and comment how many children will be coming and their ages. This gives us an idea of group size, ability, and supplies.
There are no registration forms or fees and no obligation to attend any of the outings. We welcome newcomers and see familiar faces each time we meet.
Why Join the Eco-Club?
Since the beginning of the eco-club in 2015, as the Founder and Chair, I have learned so much about our natural spaces in Muskoka, and I love to see parents learning along with us as well.
We bring in experts to teach subjects such as: the importance of measuring bugs on the bottom of our lakes to ensure healthy water, or we discuss the importance of native plants we are planting and why they help pollinators like butterflies and bees.
We partner with other local groups to offer a fun and educational experience for everyone.
Even the youngest eco-club member will learn from participating by getting their hands dirty and exploring in the woods. They’re learning to respect the world around them, and their curiosity fosters a love for nature.
An older eco-club member will understand the reasons for needing to protect our wild spaces and will have opportunities to ask questions and use their hands-on learning skills to gain confidence.
For example, in 2019 we partnered with the Bass Masters of Muskoka for a fun fishing day, that also happened to pour rain on us. We stood in the rain with our hoods on with the fishing experts while we learned about local fish in our water and how to catch one and throw it back.
Each child received a fishing rod that day to continue the skills and knowledge they learned. That’s just one example of the many experiences that your child will have by joining the eco-club.
Partnering with Other Groups and Businesses
Over the years we have partnered with some incredible like-minded groups and businesses in Muskoka, including:
- Learning felting from the Muskoka Yarn Connection
- Tim Horton’s sponsored our litter pick up day with free hot chocolate
- Riverstone Environmental created a bat house workshop for us
- Watershed Council helped us learn about bugs in the water
If you have a business or organization that would like to partner with us for one of our monthly outings, please reach out to us through Muskoka Conservancy or on the Facebook page and together we can create a fun and educational experience for the group!
For more information about the eco-club or Muskoka Conservancy, please reach out to Christina Hunter, Chair and Founder of Little Sprouts Eco-Club at email@example.com , or Scott Young, Executive Director at Muskoka Conservancy firstname.lastname@example.org