Scheduled to give a talk at the Cape Cod Natural History Conference this morning, I elected to drag all the Courchesne gentlemen along on the errand. After my speaking engagement had concluded, we headed across town to the Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Massachusetts Audubon. This is a small but lovely seaside preserve, with wooded paths, small ponds, and a number of stately old American Holly trees lending a welcome amount of green to the late winter landscape. Also a big draw: the chance for the boys to pick up another stamp in their Passport to Nature books. The idea is to visit all of the sanctuaries listed in the book, and at each one to find the little locked box containing the stamp and the ink pad. Using the secret code in the passport book, the kids unlock the box, stamp their books, and head off for a fine hike before heading home to plan the next sanctuary visit. Ingenious, these Mass Audubon folks, for what’s not to love about this program? Get outside, use a secret code to open a capsule, collect stuff, AND…once you’ve visited 10 sanctuaries, you get a prize! This is kid nirvana.
The sanctuaries are spread all over the state, so chances are there’s one near where you live, work or vacation, if you spend any time in Massachusetts at all.
Though I don’t think one technically need be a Mass Audubon member to participate in the passport program, members get into all the sanctuaries free, and after a year of membership, we also gain the opportunity to camp at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on the Cape, as well as at the Innermost House, a small cabin at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary. We’ve already booked our week at Wellfleet Bay, so watch this space for the Courchesne adventures there come July!