Last weekend Outside Perspectives took youth from Waterbury Youth Services to Black Rock State Park in Thomaston, CT. Tucked into the scenic rolling hills of the Western Highlands, 439-acre Black Rock Park offers a variety of outdoor activities.
Starting the day off with some fun games in the field we started to get to know each other a bit. Next we set our sights on the large protruding, aptly named, black rock at the top of a hill overlooking the field.
The descriptive name for the rock is given because of its’ contrasting darker-colored material known as graphite. A material found in your average #2 pencil. This fact is directly linked to the area’s history, as early settlers to the Naugatuck Valley were given rights to mine graphite lead by the resident Indians as early as 1657.
With the Black Rock as our goal, we set out on a steep trail surrounded by wooded ledges of pine, hemlock and oak. We not only challenged the youth to navigate to the top of Black Rock with a map, but also to locate a geocache along the way. Geocaching is a treasure hunt that can be found in countries around the world, requiring individuals to use navigational skills to find “caches.”
Participants expertly located the rusty old ammunition canister hidden under a rock on the side of the trail and found it chock full of souvenirs. Pushing on, the group supported each other up the trail to the top. With a steep drop to the bottom and an epic panorama up and down the Naugatuck Valley, we stayed for awhile reaping the rewards of our efforts and admiring the grand view. Since we left our cell phones behind, we were able to relax and have uninterrupted conversations with each other.
Before ending the day, we swung by the Black Rock State Park beach and cooled our feet off in the water. and took time to reflect on the day. Everyone said they were glad that they came, “the day was fun” and they “had a good time.” The big take home message was that sometimes you just need a little time outside to slow down, take in the details, remember what it’s like to be a kid again, and to find out that trying new things can be great fun! Thanks Waterbury Youth Services for a a great day. We look forward to our next adventure.