Something special for youth

The Institute offers several special programs for children and families, separate from our school programs or summer offerings. Our goal is to keep kids engaged through many different avenues. Check out these possibilities for your next involvement!

In the warm summer months, Summer Institute offers educational and fun activities for kids, too!

Water Striders

Grades 6–12

“Water striders” are insects that skim the surface of pond and stream waters for food. Their feet hold a delicate balance on the water using surface tension to stay afloat. Water Striders are also middle school-aged students in the local area who are fascinated by life in the waters of our local streams and who want to help take care of the Antietam Creek Watershed. Most of them also have a desire to explore the greater watershed all the way to the Chesapeake Bay!

The Institute’s after-school program Water Striders offers youth the opportunity to “wade into” creek study and have fun too. Under the supervision of the institute’s teaching staff, Striders meet once a month to conduct water quality monitoring tests as part of the Antietam Watershed Association’s stream monitoring program. Striders also check out macroinvertebrates (water critters), participate in other watershed activities, take field trips and enjoy the company of their fellow Striders.

This group holds extra sessions to prepare a display table for The Institute’s Earth Celebration Day in April. Striders engage the public as they explain their exhibit and help people become “watershed aware for watershed care.”

Group size is limited. Contact the Institute for availability of openings.

A big thanks to our Water Striders sponsors, John & Erin Hershey III, and Jay & Pat Heefner.


Kids in grades K–5

EXPLORE! programs highlight educational and fun outdoor adventures for kids from kindergarten through grade 5. All program activities are outside, and each session features a different theme or topic.

Taught by Institute educators, programs include educational activities related to the season and theme. Students may attend any or all sessions in a series.

The programs are offered seasonally throughout the year—check out our calendar of events, or contact The Institute by phone at (717) 762-0373 or by email at to learn what’s happening.

Coming soon: Group EXPLORE! adventures—check back for more information.


EXPLORE! programs are sponsored by The Anderson Family Fund, in memory of Vida Mae Anderson.

Wee Wonders

Children ages 2.5 to 5

Year-round seasonal series of outdoor nature programs for preschoolers. Designed for children ages 2.5 to 5, the Wee Wonder programs are taught by Institute educators.

Age-appropriate program activities include exploring the outdoors, hikes, nature stories, rhymes, finger plays, nature games, nature-related arts and crafts, and puppets.


Wee Wonder programs are sponsored by Diana Dale, in memory of Mary Ann Payne and Helen Herr Moyer.

StoryWalk® Sundays

Children in grades K–5

Free monthly guided excursions along the StoryWalk® trail at Pine Hill Recreation Area for children in grades K–5.

With a new book each month, kids join a fun guided walk along the story trail as they read the book together, then make a special related craft project to take home. All families are welcome, but activities are geared for preschool and elementary age kids.


Pine Hill’s StoryWalk® trail, an Institute project, was funded in part by Summit Endowment, Marge Kiersz and Rouzerville Business Association, with in-kind support from Washington Township, Hopewell Manufacturing, Waynesboro Area School

District “Be the Village,” and Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library.

The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.
StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Water Striders use a kick net to investigate creek life.
Fort building during an Institute EXPLORE! program.
Investigating a cicada on a tree during a Wee Wonders program.
A StoryWalk® Sundays group enjoys a book along the story trail.