Laughter and shouts of “come look at this!” were the soundtrack of Sunday, May 20, 2018 as Exploring Roots’ ReWildKC program went for a three-mile hike in Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Camdenton, Missouri. 

Exploring Root’s ReWildKC youth program serves those living in under-resourced urban areas, and seeks to foster a healing and empowering relationship between people and nature.

With 11 kids in an unfamiliar place, no area was left unexplored. In addition to hiking several trails off the beaten path in the park, we visited Ha Ha Tonka’s famous castle ruins, sinkholes and caves. Highlights of the trip including playing in the natural bridge waterfalls created by heavy rainfall in the area days prior and filtering drinking water from Missouri’s 12th largest natural spring. 

Mid-day, we rested on the secluded island trail for mindful meditation. During the mediation session, the group to focused on being in the wilderness and appreciated the natural beauty of the area because nature can be a healing place for those living in the bustle of a large city. Research suggests group walks in nature are associated with significantly lower depression, perceived stress, and negative affect, as well as enhanced mental well-being.

Our ReWildKC program is looking forward to next month’s adventure: outdoor rock climbing at Columbia, Missouri’s Capen Park.