On Sunday, January 24, Glass House Collective brought 13 East Chattanooga youth to a National Park in their neighborhood that they had never been to before. Sherman Reservation is a 50 acre National Park just off of Glass Street in East Chattanooga. The property holds significant historical importance as it played a crucial role in the effort to command Missionary Ridge in the Battle for Chattanooga. The site now features a scattering of historical markers, over a handful of monuments, and over half-a-mile of urban forested and open greenway hiking trails. On this day the youth were coming to engage in healthy activities and be introduced to outdoor recreation.
We began the day by gathering with Glass Street resident Gail McKeel at the Glass Street Pop-up Flea Market. Organizers carpooled participants in from their homes as well as the Avondale Youth and Family Development Center. The kids’ excitement was tangible. Before heading into the woods the kids were all given compasses and taught how to use them. For many, this was the first time they had seen a compass. The youth were introduced to the concept of “true north” and organizers taught the youth how the compasses worked in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field. After the compass orientation the youth were divided into three groups and everyone drove to Sherman Reservation. Upon arrival the group walked the ascent up Sherman Reservation to the peak of the hill where there lies acres and acres of a treeless battlefield in the heart of East Chattanooga. The group enjoyed the panoramic view of the Chattanooga Valley and identifying landmarks from their neighborhoods.
The youth were then given maps and had to use their compasses to find scavenger hunt materials. The scavenger hunt provided the youth with a fun, highly engaged activity as the youth ran from marker to marker trying to out compete the other groups. As the sun set on the afternoon the group enjoyed snacks while sitting atop the Iowa Monument before hiking back out to the cars. The day ended with cookies and hot chocolate back at the Pop-Up Flea Market. The children all thoroughly enjoyed their time outdoors and look forward to more outdoor adventures with Glass House Collective.