Updated: Aug 9
Ever notice how children and animals have the same spirit of love and curiosity? What happens when you plan a day to intentionally give both groups time to spend together?
First thing’s first: What is a Florida Scout? When I heard they were a part of the opening ceremony for the Grant Seafood Festival I had a hard time getting the wording right. Are they Boy Scouts? Who is Chandler Langevin? Did I miss something?
If I felt like I missed it, that’s probably because Florida Scout’s is a new organization just formed as of October 2022, which wasted no time gaining momentum around Brevard County. They popped up on the scene pretty quickly and formed locally right in here in Grant. With over 120 families that jumped on board ready to teach their 3 – 18-year-olds survival and life skills, this fun adventure group shows up ready for the action. The first troop, 001 has been making amazing discovery and building survival skills all around the area.
The Painted Horse Rescue was also new to me! Also located in Grant (which is right down the road from me) they too are in their first year of official operation, however, have been doing rescue work for many years. Now that they’ve relocated, they are growing quickly! It was truly impressive to see the hard work and love that goes into making this operation successful. They have volunteer opportunities available and if you have kids who need Bright Future's hours this may be a GREAT way to get them. And - IT"S NOT JUST HORSES!
Back to our Adventure...
Hands on Learning & Animal Care
We met at the Painted Horse Rescue at 9 am on a beautiful Saturday morning in April. There was a brief gathering in the parking lot area while families arrived, and the excited kids wasted no time exploring. Kids of all ages found their buddies and naturally did what kids do until the groups were called together; they played. Proving once again that kid's will find wonder in a dirt lot with some sticks, trees and a hill to climb. After a little time for families to find the spot and get settled, the groups were called together and received directions. The youngest group (which was also the largest) went one way, and the middle and older aged groups lumped together to go the other direction. Both groups saw ALL of the animals, but groups were scaffolded due to their needs. There was lot's of loving on the rescues, and so much appreciation for how animals act. Both the kiddos and the creatures were curious of each other 💕
It's fun to learn - Walk through the gate and see for yourself...
I learned a lot tagging along with the kids! Did I mention it's not just horses?
Also living at the rescue are: Cows, donkeys, pigs, goats, ducks, geese and a turkey.
Different enclosures are set up around for the variety and groupings of animals in their care.
*Donkeys here free roam going wherever they want. They pretty much stick together!
They can also see all four of their feet at any time, which may be one of the reasons they are good kickers!
*Goats are kind of like poison control, they won't really eat anything they will tear it up and destroy it, but they are very particular about what they chose to eat! Generally, goats do a good job avoiding things that would make them sick.
*Goats are helpful to people for cutting grass because they will chew it down the same level. With only bottom teeth and no top teeth, goats cut the grass down like a razor.
*Horses eat grass differently than goats where they literally rip it up from the root and eat the whole thing, leaving no grass only dirt.
*The pigs here live across from the cows. Both of these areas feature lively personalities, and the kids were all giggling with the noises and actions going on.
*In the variety of pigs kept there are two potbelly pigs, which are sometimes kept as pets because they are so intelligent and can be housebroken easily. These were pets who were unfortunately neglected.
*Some of the older scouts who observed these guys explained how they use the mud like sunscreen and to keep cool.
*Chickens have a happy coop and the kids were loving seeing how the innerworkings of their coop worked!
Scouts and Horses
The horse pens were the grand finale! The kids kept asking, "are we going to see the horses next?" Here we were able to see how they help the variety of horses which are cared for in this place. None of the horses are ridden, they enjoy their free play and social time.
We learned the stories of the horses and how they came to live on the Painted Horse Rescue, how they got their names and some interesting horse history. They are the home of "Wiley", one of the last wild cracker horses born in Florida. She was especially sweet, gentle and curious. There are still some horses living on Preserves around the State, but the final band of wild horses were placed last year due to the land in Central Florida being repurposed. Wiley is young, she is just turning three years old! I didn’t know Florida had wild horses that recently! I loved hearing about the work that they do here to protect and care for the animals.
Scouts were able to practice some animal care basics! In fact, the scouts couldn't get enough! The horses were extra loved, fed, and watered on this day. The balance between giving the horses love and overwhelming them can be a fine line. While the children worked on their self-regulation skills of not climbing the enclosures, being too sudden in their movements, or not being too loud, the horses stepped back as needed and came closer to visit. Seeing how they interacted was magical. My teacher heart had to resist the urge to over insist on the rules, and it was great to see children of all ages figuring out the balance of nature and self. Of course, it helped that their parents were all within reach, and the volunteers were handy as well.
As adults were wrapping it up with conversations and making their way back towards the exit, the children again did what they do best; played. They found a circle of dirt in which to start running and playing. Chandler turned this into an opportunity for some character-building reviewing some of the learning that happened and asking the kids some of their favorite things they learned.
Comments about Mustangs, the donkey's being our new friends, and how cool the goats are, along with questions about electric fences met lots of smiles.
Early Childhood Development
In the first few years of life, more than one million new, neural connections form within the brain every second. These neural connections, according to Harvard researchers, are exactly what build the brain’s architecture and foundation for all later learning, behavior, and health. How do these neurons form, you ask? Largely through the environment and early experiences. Birth through eight years old is this window of development in which anything learned and experienced is compounded. Giving hands on learning and real life experiences the most concrete and long-lasting impact.
On this beautiful April Morning, these children were able to experience these animals for themselves. To watch the children responding to the animals and animals excited to see the children was heartwarming, but also affirming to me that the lightbulb of connection is still alive and well! While the Scouts have also hiked, camped and had some great nature exploration in the previous weeks, this morning’s event was particularly uplifting to me as an observer. My recent blog to the Brevard Zoo gave me a similar experience, and yet this was animal care 101. The deeper story of the animals brought to life by the volunteers who keep the Painted Horse Ranch a refuge where these beautiful creatures can live life to the fullest.
Florida Scouts vs Boy/ Girl Scouts
While they have similar intentions, I couldn’t help but spot some of the things that make Florida Scouts different from the well-known scouting organization that’s been around forever. Florida Scouts is definitely more of a whole family approach that allows for co-ed grouping and more hands-on lessons sooner. While Boy/ Girl Scouts have more limitations on parent participation, the Florida Scouts make that a part of the program. Parents are here learning alongside their children. This is not a drop and go kind of deal. The activities are planned around giving children useful outdoors skills now. Previous activities included building beach shelters, firearm safety, camping in Ocala National Forest. Their next meeting will be a homesteading activity and feature different centers for exploring how to use the natural resources Florida land is so rich in. They are also running an archery workshop for 6 weeks for those who register.
If you’d like to get more information about Florida Scouts, click here
Chandler Langevin is raising the bar by taking his passion for his community to the next level by running for House Representative! See the movement here
If you’d like to get more information about the Painted Horse Rescue, click here
The Painted Horse Rescue is dedicated to rescuing horses from neglect, abuse, abandonment, and slaughter. We strive to improve their lives by providing a safe haven for healing and rehabilitation and to restore their trust in humankind.
Wherever you go....
Nature has amazing healing properties, get out there and breathe deep breaths!
Inhale the freshly made oxygen with gratitude.
Wherever your travels take you, be sure to keep your presence in the moment.
Allow yourself to experience joy.
Enjoy where you are.
Be a little flexible with people and their navigation of time.
Let go of things you can't control.
Remember to put your people above the things, and cherish the memories.
Thank you for sharing the journey, I welcome your thoughts and hope to hear from you!
A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip. I hope this makes it easier for your planning process.
Thank you for stopping by today! Please share your thoughts and experiences, we are all on this journey to live and love together. I welcome your travel tips & tricks :-)
I specialize in helping families spend more time enjoying their quality time together and less time having to figure it all out. My four children have been my test subjects of planning great family adventures for many years and now that my youngest is 18, many of my travels are work related, or grandma related! As time has changed, I've evolved but I still LOVE TO TRAVEL, explore, wander, visit, discover, learn and love. I gravitate toward nature, which is where I find my happy place. I use the term single not to emphasize my status but to signify that if I can manage some family fun on a limited teacher's salary with four children, anyone can do it. I am just very intentional in how I spend my time and earnings. I typically seek out budget friendly ways to enjoy my time, but will occasionally splurge for the right reasons :-)
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