Aiken children gained an understanding of knowing one's environment during a new children's summer program at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on Thursday.


The Aiken Young Conservationist Program, based on the Junior Ranger program, was recently launched by the Aiken Land Conservancy, and developed by a child for children to encourage them to learn more about the historical, cultural and environmental features of Aiken County through workbook challenges.


Aiken Land Conservancy Executive Director Katie Roth said while the Conservancy had already created a soft launch of the program, they hope to bring it to more children.


“They are our next generation of saving land and preserving what we have here in Aiken County so that it remains a place that everyone loves,” Roth said. “They understand the culture better, and they understand what we have in Aiken.”


This summer, the group partnered with the City of Aiken to bring the program to the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center during its summer camp titled “What Does the Fox Say?”


The camp took the children on a safari through Hitchcock Woods and on a day trip to The National Wild Turkey Federation before meeting with community leaders.


Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco and new Aiken County Historical Museum Executive Director Brenda Barratto also participated in the program.


Barranco led campers through an Aiken Spotlight Challenge, asking what character traits and actions make a vital resident and create a better Aiken community. Barratto created a history crossword puzzle challenging the campers on important events in Aiken's past.


“It's important knowing how to keep themselves safe – safe in the home and in the woods,” Barranco said. “But also, it's learning how to take care of each other that's really important.”


For Barratto, she said understanding the historic aspects of one's home is just as important for kids as for anyone.


“It's a story of all of us; it's the people who came before us. It's who we are now and the stories the generations to come will tell,” Barratto said.


For more information about the Conservancy, visit www.conserveaiken.com.


Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree with the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.