LAKE DELTON — North Freedom Elementary School students went on an aquatic adventure at Mirror Lake State Park this week in search of scientific exploration.

Gary Williams of Summer Outdoor Adventure Club in Reedsburg spent Monday and Tuesday shuttling students across a section of Mirror Lake in his 25-person canoe. During the excursions, Williams taught kids how to hold a paddle and where to look for plants, animals and other local wildlife.

“I tell them we’re looking for birds, fish and plants — that we’re nature detectives,” Williams said Tuesday. “This morning we saw an eagle, we saw a lot of ducks, and yesterday the last group got to see a couple of turtles.”

North Freedom Elementary third grade teacher Rochelle Van Den Heuvel said planning for the canoe trip began last spring. She said Williams led snowshoeing programs at North Freedom in the past, and school leaders believed the canoe trip could provide another outlet for scientific experiences.

“Gary really stresses the idea of being nature detectives with the kids,” she said. “It’s about enjoying the calm and peacefulness outside, and being quiet so that you can actually observe living things.”

Van Den Heuvel said funding for the activity was provided by the Youth Environmental Projects of Sauk County, which donated money to North Freedom Elementary for science-related trips and projects.

“They offered us some funding, and this was one of the experiences we were able to provide with their money,” she said.

Williams has operated the Summer Outdoor Adventure Club for 22 years and regularly leads outdoor programs for the Baraboo and Reedsburg school districts. In addition to canoeing and snowshoeing, he said the group also offers biking excursions.

Williams said his programs are designed to present kids with challenges and adventures they can pursue the rest of their lives.

“Part of my thing is kids are always going to be looking for challenges and risks,” he said. “This is an adventure, so they can look at this and if they want something adventurous, they can go canoeing.”

Van Den Huevel said she hopes the kids came away from the trip with an appreciation and awareness for outdoor activities that are offered in the area.

“Hopefully as they grow up and get to choose more of their own adventures in life, this might be one that they would choose to continue doing,” she said.

Follow Jake Prinsen on Twitter @prinsenjake

Baraboo News Republic Reporter