Those who have taken part in The Children’s Grand Adventure often recount feeling a great sense of independence during their stay. Most certainly, the majesty of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks will make anyone yearn to explore his or her wilder side. But for children who have overcome the rigors of cancer and its treatment, there are other – often more intense – facets to this experience.
Adding tangibility to this notion, researchers of the Teton Nature Schools invite children to participate in “bird banding.” This process, in which identifying bands are is fitted to the legs of migrating birds, allows researchers to track avian population trends, movements and health.
The Conservation Research Center of Teton Science Schools began banding birds in 1991 and currently operates five Monitoring Avian Productivity & Survivorship (MAPS) stations in the Jackson Hole area. Since then, scientists have banded more than 10,000 birds belonging to 73 species.
A favorite activity of Grand Adventure guests and mentors alike, participants learn about the entire banding procedure, beginning with watching scientists collect birds from “mist nets” for processing. Children are then able to hold the fragile, gentle creatures and release them again into the open skies. Wonders abound as birds – and spirits – once again take flight.