All four fifth-grade classes from Mast Landing School headed to the Cousins River Trail behind the Casco Bay Regional YMCA last Friday for a walk that took perhaps an hour, back and forth.
The 78 students were taking part in the first of four phases in the Freeport Trail Challenge, in which Freeport Conservation Trust invites students and adults alike to walk four Freeport trails. Everyone is invited to collect stamps from each trail, or pose a selfie photograph from their walk on Facebook or Instagram. Four rubber stamps indicate completion of the challenge, and kids who do so will have their names entered into a raffle for prizes. Dairy Queen, Freeport Wild Bird Supply and the YMCA have donated prizes.
Heather Zachau, one of the fifth-grade teachers who accompanied the students, said they were enthusiastic to get out and do the challenge.
“We’re doing it every other Friday with the entire fifth-grade class,” Zachau said. “Hopefully they can explore the trails again with their families.”
Zachau said that the trail challenge spirit is catching on in the entire school.
“Another grade has asked to go,” she said. “For the fifth-graders, it’s good team-building activity before they go into middle school.”
Katrina Van Dusen, executive director of Freeport Conservation Trust, which manages the trails – the Cousins River Trail in conjunction with the Y – said that each trail has a stamp station, where participants can stamp themselves with a rubber stamp. The other three destinations are Powell Point, Hedgehog Mountain and Frost Gully Woods. Directions to the trails can be found on the Freeport Conservation Trust website and on each passport.
“Adults are into this also,” Van Dusen said. “For people who don’t care for stamping, they can take a selfie and post it to the FCT Facebook page, or on Instagram, with a hash tag. One enterprising, high-tech father sent digital documents with photos of his kids at each place and put it on the Facebook page.”
Van Dusen said that the Freeport Trail Challenge is about getting people in touch with nature that is all around them.
“It’s all about getting people outside, young and old,” she said. “We’re hoping to expose more people to what we’ve got in town.”
All walks must be completed by the end of October, and passports turned in or photos posted by Nov. 2.