Hiking is one of our family’s favorite weekend activities and Fishers Parks & Rec has made it even more fun with their Second Nature program. Fishers Parks & Rec wants to make getting outdoors to our beautiful parks more of an adventure through a free nature backpack rental. Their new program allows families to reserve and check out a backpack containing items that will help in exploring nature.

How Do I Borrow a Backpack?

As Second Nature is a brand new program the backpacks are in high demand. Families are able to call the office office at (317) 595-3150 to check availability or place the backpack on hold. Families are able to utilize the backpacks for one week and there are currently only three backpacks. With demand, FP&R will add more backpacks which can be picked up at their office Monday through Friday from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm. Bring a photo ID and a $50 check for deposit. The $50 check will be returned with the return of the backpack.

What’s In the Backpacks?

There are three types of backpack available for rent. The items inside will always remain the same but the educational activities will be rotated or changed upon request.

Pre-School Backpack:

  • Insect Net
  • Port-O-Bug
  • Insect Container
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Aquatic Net
  • Spy Glass
  • Binoculars
  • Field Guide (6 to choose from)
  • Nature Circle (7 to choose from)
  • Educational Packet (varies)

Youth/Teen Backpack:

  • Insect Net
  • Port-O-Bug
  • Insect Container
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Aquatic Net
  • Binoculars
  • Field Guide (5 to choose from)

Adult Backpack:

  • Magnifying Glass
  • Binoculars
  • Field Guide (3 to choose from)

Our Experience
My three year old and I checked out the pre-school backpack and took it over to Flat Fork Creek in Fortville. We packed a few granola bars and a water bottle, applied bug spray and headed out with our backpack in tow. My daughter loved being able to carry the pack by herself and find the right tool to explore during our hike. Before we even hit the trail she found a flower on the ground (knowing we don’t pick flowers at parks) and squealed quickly getting the magnifying jar out to examine it closer. We saved the flower and went on with our trek.

On our walk back to the trail there were several dragonflies and butterflies zooming along our path which she chased excitedly with the net. As we headed into the woods there were several creepy crawlers that she couldn’t resist spying on with her magnifying glass. It was amazing seeing her interest in the bugs and spiders when she was investigating rather than being scared when they’re at our house. Looking at nature through the eye of an explorer has helped her learn more about animals, plants and insects which has helped her confidence in being around them.

We went on with our hike and finished up with her wanting to catch a bird in the butterfly net. I’d let her know that we don’t trap animals in the net when she remembered the bird flip book. I was surprised by her memory of the items in the backpack and her enthusiasm to use them as tools to learn more. She discovered that the bird was a Robin and that we had seen them before on our bird feeder. The pride on her face was the exact reason we will definitely be checking out Second Nature backpacks for years to come!

Be sure to check the Fishers Parks and Recreation website to download their learning activities to print and keep on hand for spontaneous nature adventures or camping trips. For more information you can call (317) 595-3150 or visit their website.