With blue skies above and the whole afternoon in front of them, Danielle Gordon-Fallen and Jordyn Jett were passing the time on the swing set.

“It’s nice. I like the trees, how you can breathe, and it’s just nice,” nine-year-old Jett said. “It’s always hot here.”

The young girls from Albany were at Lawson Lake with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Capital Area’s annual summer camp.

“We get to go to the lake and do a couple fun things,” said Gordon-Fallen, who is 8. “Canoeing is really fun.”

Five-year-old Emmett and a few friends were exploring the sights on a short nature walk.

What You Need To Know

  • In early August, the Boys & Girls Clubs and L.L. Bean announced a new partnership to expand outdoor learning opportunities for children across the country

  • The program is set up to bridge gaps to nature that exist for children who live in urban environments and come from different socioeconomic backgrounds

  • L.L. Bean and the Boys & Girls Clubs for the Capital Area kicked off the program locally with a nature walk and learning event at a summer camp at Lawson Lake

“I really like to dig into exploring and finding out about nature, it’s really fun,” he said. “You can see very cool animals, and my favorite animal is the bald eagle. They're very ferocious birds.”

Site coordinator Michelle Jenkins was mixing it up on the basketball court with Divine Young and his fellow campers.

“I’m so happy because I get to stay active and stuff like that, and I can get new friends,” said James, a 10-year-old from Niskayuna.

“We’re very happy that the children have a chance to come up to Lawson Lake because a lot of our friends dont have the opportunity to get out of the city,” Jenkins said.

Thanks to a new national partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs and L.L. Bean, the children will have more chances to explore the great outdoors year-round. The retail giant kicked off the educational program locally by hosting its first nature walk at the lake earlier this month.

“We are tremendously excited about it, any resource that helps better the lives of our children is tremendously important to us,” said Henry Elise, a youth development professional with the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Elise says the new social recreation curriculum is designed to remove barriers that often prevent children from different backgrounds from accessing nature.

“To be able to come out into the woods is a well-needed contrast that I think is going to do wonders for a lot of the kids' mental health and well-being,” he said.

“I think it’s important because they have more exposure than what they have at home, and it’s something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Jenkins said.

As the final days of summer wind down, the campers are enjoying every last minute.

“I like being here,” Gordon-Fallen said. ”I just like being in nature because this is literally the freshest air you can get around here.”