A normal hike in the woods transformed into an exciting community challenge in Westport thanks to the creativity and dedication of a physical education teacher at Westport Elementary School.

Recently, it hit a snag.

Terry Pacheco and Westport Land Conservation Trust devised an engaging plan for Pacheco's students and their families. The mission: Explore all 12 properties managed by the trust across Westport. To add an element of adventure, Pacheco and her colleagues hid markers throughout these sites for the kids to find. The reward for completing this quest? A stylish hiking boot pin, a selfie on Pacheco’s Instagram, a special mention in a video, and, of course, bragging rights.

Get our free mobile app

Beyond encouraging physical activity, the challenge aims to strengthen the connection between Westport Elementary’s students and the world around them.

Families embraced the challenge, venturing into the woods, sharing the experience and making memories.

It was the picture-perfect example of community engagement...until an issue surfaced.

Courtesy Amy Teixeira
Courtesy Amy Teixeira
loading...

Recently, Pacheco and her supporters encountered an unfortunate setback. Some of the signs, integral to the hiking challenge, have been repeatedly vandalized. The acts of smashing and ripping down signs undermine the initiative’s spirit and mean spending more money on replacements.

This recent and disturbing development has led to a call for community awareness and involvement. There's an appeal to parents to be vigilant about their children's activities, especially in these natural areas. The damage done isn't just to the signs; it's a blow to the community spirit.

Despite these setbacks, the spirit of the Westport Hiking Challenge lives on.

As Pacheco and her crew continue replacing the damaged signs, there's hope that with increased awareness and community support, this cause can flourish, reminding us all of the joys of exploring nature and the importance of respecting our shared spaces.

Matthew Barth contributed to this report.

Simmons Mill Pond Trail in Little Compton Is the Perfect Excuse to Get Outside

Take a walk through the quiet woods of Little Compton, Rhode Island and hit the reset button on life. Simmons Mill Pond Management Area can be accessed via Colebrook and John Dyer roads.

Gallery Credit: Gazelle

40 Picturesque Reasons to Never Want to Leave Westport, Massachusetts

From the grape vines of Westport Vineyards to the vast meadows and farm lands, Westport's Shara Grant captured the true beauty and essence of her town.

Gallery Credit: Gazelle

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

Gallery Credit: Hannah Lang

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420