Earthplace campfire provides engaging community-building environment


Photo by Lyah Muktavaram ’22

Friends and families gather around the Earthplace campfire, making s’mores and listening to spooky campfire stories.

Complete with the refreshing waft of sugary s’mores, the tingling chill of spooky stories by the light of the flickering campfire and the showcasing of a brown bat, the Earthplace campfire offered a variety of activities for families of all ages and abilities to enjoy.
On Oct. 11, Earthplace held a family campfire with support from the Westport Children’s Library, providing a fun community bonding environment for kids and families.
“Everyone has a really vivid childhood memory of bundling up and going around the campfire and telling campfire stories,” Sammy Riccio, one of the naturalist educators at Earthplace, said. “So we want people to make those memories here at Earthplace.”
All activities, ranging from making s’mores to listening to stories around the campfire, were catered to the needs and interests of all participants.
Once the kids and their families were settled around the campfire, Lynne Perrigo, a children’s librarian at the Westport Public Library, shared several interactive Halloween-themed stories.
“The Westport Children’s Library has a long relationship with Earthplace,” Perrigo said. “Over the years, they have done programs with us, and we like to give back, so I am always happy to come here to help them with whatever programs they are doing.”
Along with the campfire stories from the Westport Public Library, Earthplace provided chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows to toast by the fire.
“The kids seems to be engaged in the story, [but] I don’t know who can’t have fun when there’s chocolate and marshmallows around,” Riccio said.
To cap off the event, Earthplace brought out a brown bat for a quick show-and-tell to teach the kids about common animals found at night.
Riccio and other Earthplace educators passed the caged brown bat around while explaining the difference between nocturnal and diurnal and cold-blooded animals and mammals, making this learning experience both fun and engaging.
“We usually end up taking out an animal or going on a trail walk,” Riccio said. “During the spring [campfire] we do a frog watch where we go and we listen for frog sounds. It’s kind of a good way to introduce kids to the kind of critters that are out at night.”
Regardless if it’s because of the Halloween stories, the s’mores or the animals, both Riccio and Perrigo can agree that the campfire is a great way to get people from the community to come together and celebrate nature.
“When you can get people of several different ages sitting around a campfire together, even if just for a few minutes, when they are all just listening to the same story at the same time, there’s just some sort of magic that happens,” Perrigo said, “and I felt that, I felt that we’ve had some moments like that here.”