Bath trail offers educational fun to young hikers

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BATH — The Born Learning Trail not only wants you to stop and smell the roses, but to touch, observe and discuss them as well.

Located next to the Bath Area Family YMCA facility at 303 Centre St., the trail is meant to help children get a head start on language and literacy development before they begin school, as well as to encourage adult interaction and get children outside. The forested loop, which rounds the start of a trail from the YMCA to Thorne Head, is born out of a partnership between United Way of Mid Coast Maine and the Bath Trails group.

“This is one of the trail heads,” Bath Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni said. “So it was a good piece for both organizations to be working together on it. Put more kids out here, put more people on the trail system.”

Community members of all ages are invited to the trail’s opening at noon on Friday, July 17, when children from the YMCA summer program will cut a ribbon to officially open the loop.

The trail has 10 signs to engage young minds. With its theme of “Watch! Stop! Learn! Play!,” the trail offers activities such as “Pretend to move like an animal. Walk like a duck or jump like a frog” and “Is your child staring or pointing at something? Ask, ‘what do you see’?”

Carlie Geiger of AmeriCorps VISTA, based at United Way of Mid Coast Maine, said surveys conducted in 2000 and 2002 by the Success by 6 program showed that nearly one-third of area children were entering kindergarten while having difficulty in three or more areas of school readiness.

“Born Learning was started as a way to get parenting materials out into the community to help parents prepare their children for school,” Geiger said.

She added that the activities described on the signs “are all things that don’t necessarily even have to happen on the trail. It’s just the idea that parents are encouraging learning and literacy in everyday moments. So this trail is a way to promote that.”

Located on city-owned land, the trail was created by United Way with key sponsorships from Border Trust and the Bath Savings Institution, as well as support from Bath Trails, the YMCA and multiple volunteers.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or

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learning trail.JPGCarlie Geiger of AmeriCorps VISTA, left, and Bath Parks and Recreation Director Steve Balboni install one of a series of educational signs that make up the Born Learning Trail. (Lear photo)

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.