Friday, July 13, 2012
Today was free admissions day at the Franklin Park Zoo. So we changed all the campers into our new Sr. Mary Hart Children's Program T-shirts and caught the number 45 bus from Ruggles to the Zoo. A bus ride is always a big event with 30 children. There's the trouble of getting them all seats, keeping the noise volume to a bearable level for the other passengers and dealing with any disputes that may arise between campers during the ride. But the great thing about public transportation is the potential for interaction with interesting and enjoyable people. Here's one of our campers who spent much of the bus ride chatting with the lady in the hat. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us adults when we see a child so easily and willingly interacting with our fellow bus passengers.
When we arrived at the Zoo we sat down for lunch (turkey wraps and peaches) before splitting off into small groups to explore the Zoo. I cannot speak to the experience of each group at the Zoo so I will only recount the day I had with my four campers. All four boys were very eager to see the Zoorasic Park exhibit, which features robotic dinosaurs that move and roar. The absolutely loved to see the giant lizards, especially the one that sprayed cool water at onlookers (have I mentioned yet that it was 90 degrees today?). Before going in I assured them that the dinosaurs were not real live animals, but actually robots. The rest of the day, every time we saw a live animal they asked if the animal was a robot or not. Just a funny reminder that young children see the world very differently than we do.
We took shelter from the heat inside the giant tropical rain forest tent, where the biggest attraction was the gorilla exhibit. Our evolutionary cousins weren't nearly as excited to see us as we were to see them. We saw all sorts of birds, mammals, and fish inside the rain forest tent. The great thing about the Franklin Park Zoo exhibits is that the exhibits are framed as educational, showing visitors natural habitats and providing informational plaques at each exhibit. There was real excitement when we left the rainforest and trudged up the hill to the lion exhibit, though some disappointment when we found the lion napping.
After about two hours of watching animals, it was time to head back to camp. We slowly walked back through the Zoo to meet up with the rest of the group and found shade to wait as the entire camp gathered together before walking to the bus stop. I personally enjoy these trips where I get to hang out with a smaller group of campers, it gives more time interacting, plus it makes it easier to keep track of the kids. It may have been almost unbearably hot, it may have been a long bus ride to and from camp, but it was a good day.
PS-This whole day was made possible by a program called Free Fun Fridays that allows the public free admission to all different sorts of attractions in the Greater Boston Area. This program continues to August 31, and is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for something to do on the cheap.