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Island Treasures

Emerald Lake State Park

East Dorset, Vermont

The Bloom: What’s the attraction?

Emerald Lake State Park lives up to its name—a beautiful lake reflecting the green hills of Southern Vermont. The park provides a variety of opportunities for camping and day-trips.

The Nectar: What’s sweet about this place?

What’s not to love about an adorable little lake complete with beach, boat rentals, and an island to explore!? We visited on a sunny Sunday in June. The water was pleasant and shallow near shore, perfect for little kids to jump right in. There were enough families to find friends to splash around with, but I would not have called it a crowd.

The Pollen: What observations might pollinate good ideas elsewhere?

Treasure Island. Easter Island. Fantasy Island. The Galapagos Islands. Gilligan’s Island. Islands live large in our collective imagination. But, what is so special about islands?

The little wooded island in the middle of Emerald Lake totally captivated us. It gave us something to circumnavigate on our paddle boat. It provided a destination to swim to and from. It reminded me of adventure stories, natural histories, and silly old television shows.

I wonder if the joy of islands comes from the promise of both discovery and limits. They give us something to aim for across the water, but feel within reach. Unlike the sprawling mainland, we can imagine really getting to know the rocks and trees held within an island. Life on the water also feels more exciting with an island to explore. A rocky promontory offers something hidden on the other side, a new combination of lake and tree and sky. You may even come around the bend to find a secret rope swing or an unsuspecting heron before it takes flight.

So what do islands have to do with interpretive planning? Parks? Museums? Exhibit design? Or even family vacations? I think they might be good inspiration for all of us—parents and free-choice educators. Can we create little islands for our families to explore? Something you can spot from afar that captures the imagination? Experiences that promise something new but not overwhelming? Can we break up the voyage by framing new vistas on a beloved place or complex idea? Can we create hidden treasures to discover at each destination?

What islands—real or conceptual—capture your imagination?

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