It’s a chance for children to solve a mystery. For families to go for a walk in nature. For everyone to learn about the creatures that make Burnaby Lake Regional Park their home. The event is called Critter Capers, and it’s a popular weekend activity for many Metro Vancouver area families.
“We’re at Burnaby Lake Regional Park today,” says Melissa Holloway, a Park Interpreter for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. “and we are hosting Critter Capers, a really fun family event that allows kids to be detectives for a day to walk a loop, pick up clues, solve a mystery, and get a fun reward at the end.”
At the check-in tent, Park Interpreter Peter Lawrance addresses a group of children, laying out the challenge facing these junior detective/naturalists, “Wayne the Wood duck keeps getting woken up by strange splashing noises in the night. So, we need you to find out who is making the splashing noises and if Wayne is going to be safe or not.”
“The kids will participate in all sorts of actitivies ranging from using maps, in this case they are triangulating to find the location where the splash came from,” explains Holloway. “They might be using tracks, looking at animal footprints to see if anybody might be lurking near the crime scene. They look at live animals; they could be looking through a day or a night scope to figure out who’s awake at various times of the day. We’re even having a station where they are figuring out what causes different splashes, by dropping pine cones, seeds, and leaves into a big pool of water.”
Three young girls cluster around a kiddie pool set up alongside a Burnaby Lake walking trail, ready to perform the next experiment. With a soft sploosh, a pine cone is dropped into the water. “So, the one that makes a splash is the pine cone,” announces one of the junior investigators.
“We are seeing people who are interested more in science come into the park and really experience nature through these Critter Capers,” says Holloway. “Adults are learning too, as they are engaging with their kids, so really it’s not just for kids, it is a family event. Everyone comes out at the end with big smiles on their faces. So, that’s the best part for me is seeing those big smiles and everyone has had such a great time.”
April 2014 is the next Critter Caper mystery — ‘The Case of the Clueless Chick.’