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Rain Brings Relief to Armonk Ecology Program

ARMONK, N.Y.- The heat wave is finally over and people around the area are taking a break from their air conditioned living rooms to enjoy the outdoors - even in Monday’s rain.

In fact, rain meant a great deal of fun and learning for children at Cranberry Lake children’s summer ecology program in North White Plains Monday, said Westchester County Parks employee Taro Ietaka.

“Today was great, it’s raining and the kids are enjoying it as well with the rain and getting wet,” Ietaka said. “As long as there’s no thunder, there’s no problem. In this camp, unless it’s torrential, we send them out.”

Rainy weather gives the kids a chance to see different animals such as amphibians that try to stay cool during extreme heat, said Ietaka. He added that the children definitely don’t mind getting a little muddy.

“The kids don’t mind getting muddy and wet,” Ietaka said. “The parents sometimes don’t like their upholstery in their cars getting dirty but the kids certainly do like this type of weather.”

According to The National Weather Service there was an 80 percent chance of rain showers for much of the afternoon Monday.

Ietaka, who’s worked for Westchester Parks and Recreation for nine years, said last week’s heat was “brutal” and certain events had to be cancelled in order to stay cool.

“Every Friday we like to finish the camp session with a camp fire and s’mores and last week we cancelled that in favor of making our own ice cream, so now with it cooling down we can go back to our regular routine,” Ietaka said.

With temperatures in excess of 100 degrees last week, Ietaka said precautionary measures were taken to avoid any incidents of heat exhaustion at Cranberry Lake Preserve.

“We drank a lot of water, we played sprinkler games and we cut back on the hiking. They could not go out as far,” Ietaka said. “I told the teachers to treat the kids like vampires, so run from shadow to shadow to avoid direct sunlight and it worked.”

Fortunately, throughout the week there were no medical emergencies at Cranberry Lake Preserve.

Another cooling factor, said Ietaka, is in the park the temperature drops between nine and 10 degrees once you enter the forest because of the shade, so it’s much cooler between the trees than other places.

According to Ietaka, ticks have been a concern for parents so far this summer so campers have been dressing in long clothing to prevent bites.

“Some parents would dress their kids in long sleeves and pants because they were worried about the ticks, but ticks have not been an issue this year. Heat exhaustion is a main concern so by Tuesday we had gotten rid of the long sleeves and everybody was cool and comfortable,” Ietaka said.

Children in the summer ecology program learn valuable wilderness skills and lessons, Ietaka said. With ages ranging from first to ninth grade, the youngest students learn how to be comfortable and brave in the woods and the oldest learn about environmental issues and ethical problems in nature.

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