staff looking at bug with child

The magical world of Exploration Stations

Today’s blog was written by Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Parks are magical places.

I don’t need to convince you of this.

But sometimes, we all need a little help unlocking the magic around us. That’s where Discovery Guides and Exploration stations come in!

What is an Exploration Station?

That’s a great question!

staff at exploration station

These expertly-crafted stations are designed with exploration in mind.

Packed full of things to touch, games to play, artifacts to wonder about, and so much more — they’re not just for younger campers, but also the young at heart.

Exploration Stations are drop-ins, which means you can stop by throughout their operating time, and you can stay however long you want.

It’s not uncommon to wonder after a program “how did the time go by so quickly?” or “why was it so fun exploring?”

That’s part of the magic!

Magical staff

Like magic, Discovery Guides transform a picnic table, beach area, field, or park store entrance into an Exploration Station.

With the flick of their wrist, an unassuming area becomes a place for discovery.

Discovery staff with children

Your Discovery Guide is a magician. But they aren’t the star of the show — you are!

Their role is to give you the tools to make your own magic happen, and your stage is the park. They’ve got tricks to help conjure up discovery, wonder, and awe. While good magicians never share their secrets, our Discovery Guides want you to know the secrets to good exploration.

Magical acts

Here are the 10 Exploration Stations popping up in participating parks around the province this July and August.

AQUATIC ACROBATS Wetland and shoreline habitats support a huge variety of life – and are wonderlands to explore! Grab a wand, we mean dip net, to explore, observe, and discover our park’s aquatic inhabitants. Text: DISCOVERY HIKE or DISCOVERY WALK Explore a trail or area using your senses – who knows what magical things you will discover!

Text: FEATHERED FRIENDS How many birds have you seen or heard in the park? Ontario’s birds come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours and are an important part of our local biodiversity – the amazing variety of life around us.  Text: ART IN THE PARK Some of Canada’s greatest artists have been inspired by the beauty of nature in Ontario’s Provincial Parks. Nature is filled with colour, texture, and patterns – create art from the environment around you!

Text: REMARKABLE REPTILES Slithering snakes, tough turtles, and Ontario’s only lizard are remarkable reptiles! They need our help too, as many are Species at Risk.  Text: INCREDIBLE INSECTS In the air, on the ground, and even underwater, insects seem to be everywhere – which makes them easy to explore, observe and discover!

Text: ROCK ON! Did you know that Ontario is home to some of the oldest rocks on Earth? Find the best rock hunting spots in the park and use your Activity Book or Rock On! poster to record your observations as you explore. Text: TREES ARE TERRIFIC! How could we live without them? Spend time exploring the diversity and beauty of the trees in the park. We’ve got the supplies for your own magic trick making leaf and bark rubbings.

Text: WOW! WILDFLOWERS Wildflowers come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and smells. Search for them and you might see bugs and birds too…or come face to face with an alien invader!  Text: NATURE DETECTIVES You may not always get to see animals in the park, but they’re out there! Get ready to explore, observe and discover the variety of signs wildlife leave behind. Who knows what you might find?

Make your own magic

While we may not be part of the Ministry of Magic, our Discovery Guides and their Exploration Stations are wizards of their craft. They’ve got the tips and tricks to make magicians of all of us so we can better explore and enjoy parks.

Discovery staff with children holding bug nets

Join them this summer for a program — bring along your Discovery Activity book (or pick one up at the Exploration Station) and take your Discovery Pledge.

To find an Exploration Station near you, check out the events page of parks offering these magical programs to see their upcoming program schedule.

We can’t wait to make magic with you at an Exploration Station this summer!

 

Exploration Stations Program Description
Aquatic Acrobats Wetland and shoreline habitats support a huge variety of life — and are wonderlands to explore! Grab a wand, we mean dip net, to explore, observe, and discover our park’s aquatic inhabitants.
Art in the Park Some of Canada’s greatest artists have been inspired by the beauty of nature in Ontario’s Provincial Parks. Nature is filled with colour, texture, and patterns — create art from the environment around you!
Discovery Hike Explore a trail using your senses — who knows what magical things you will discover! Lace up your hiking shoes and drop by the Discovery table to pick up tips and tools for exploring a hiking trail at your own pace.
Discovery Walk Explore the Park using your senses. Be ready to see like a bee and hear like a deer! Drop by the Discovery table to pick up tips and tools for exploring at your own pace.
Feathered Friends How many birds have you seen or heard in the park? Ontario’s birds come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours and are an important part of our local biodiversity — the amazing variety of life around us.
Incredible Insects In the air, on the ground, and even underwater, insects seem to be everywhere — which makes them easy to explore, observe and discover!
Nature Detectives You may not always get to see animals in the park, but they’re out there! Get ready to explore, observe and discover the variety of signs wildlife leave behind. Who knows what you might find?
Remarkable Reptiles Slithering snakes, tough turtles, and Ontario’s only lizard are remarkable reptiles! They need our help too, as many are Species at Risk.
Rock On! Did you know that Ontario is home to some of the oldest rocks on Earth? Find the best rock hunting spots in the park and use your Activity Book or Rock On! poster to record your observations as you explore.
Trees Are Terrific! How could we live without them? Spend time exploring the diversity and beauty of the trees in the park. We’ve got the supplies for your own magic trick making leaf and bark rubbings.
Wow! Wildflowers! Wildflowers come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and smells. Search for them and you might see bugs and birds too…or come face to face with an alien invader!

Happy exploring and discovering this summer!