Children and families made homemade bread and butter, blew bubbles, and caught butterflies during the inaugural Family Days event at John Muir National Historic Site on Saturday, May 25th.
Volunteers ensured the day’s success through event planning, set-up and take down, and running the show while two rangers staffed the visitor center and John Muir’s historic Victorian home.
“Volunteers represent a local connection to the park,” said volunteer coordinator Daniel Prial. “Through this special event, volunteers help create stronger ties between the site and the community.”
Six volunteers staffed three activity booths spread throughout the park’s historic orchards. The idea for Family Days is loosely based off of Biscayne National Park’s Family Fun Fest (click on the “More Information” link below).
To celebrate John Muir’s role as a scientist and encourage children to discover nature, volunteers showed families how to safely catch bugs with nets and place them in bug boxes. VIP Melanie Bernal brought her personal mesh butterfly case so families could see these winged beauties up close. After observing nature, children made journals and sketched what they saw.
"I loved watching the children's eyes widen as they met the false eyes of the buckeye butterflies, the long legs of the katydids, and the glossy bodies of the ants,” Bernal said. “The kids created an especially magical moment at the end of the day when they released the butterflies back into the orchard."
Visitors also made bread from a 100-year-old sourdough starter and cooked it in a horno, a Spanish-style outdoor oven located on site. By shaking cream in glass jars, children created fresh butter for their bread. VIP Rhonda Beatty-Gallo baked loaves beforehand to provide enough slices for the nearly 80 visitors in attendance.
At another booth, children played Victorian games such as croquet, horseshoes and tavern puzzles. Visitors blew bubbles – a Victorian pastime – using wire wands dipped in soap-filled pie tins. The event aligns with Call to Action #5: Parks for People by engaging the diverse urban community of Martinez and providing a fun and interactive way for families to explore the park.