Penelope Strahm, 3, was having fun walking along a creek at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs. Although she did not find anything right away, she remained hopeful.

Penelope Strahm, 3, was having fun walking along a creek at Burr Oak Woods Nature Center in Blue Springs. Although she did not find anything right away, she remained hopeful.

“I like playing outside,” she said. “It is a lot of fun.”

More than 30 children and parents participated in the “Babes in the Woods: Creek Crawling” program Tuesday at the center. Children from infants up to age 3 had the opportunity to splash in the creek while looking for insects, crayfish and tiny minnow fish using nets and other containers.

“We want them to have a positive experience in nature,” said Kathleen Savaiano, a naturalist with Burr Oak Woods. “This is definitely one of our more popular events. We had a waiting list only a week after starting to take reservations. Families really enjoy this program.”

Savaiano said it is designed to give children a firsthand experience in nature by playing in the creek and searching for wildlife that live in the creek’s ecosystem. She said one of the goals of the program is to make parents more comfortable with creeks that might be in their own neighborhoods.

“We would like parents to take this experience and try to replicate it at home,” she said. “Babies love water. We want to make parents aware that their children enjoy the water and that having experiences together in a natural environment like this is a fun and safe activity.”

Amanda Griffin of Independence brought her 11⁄2-year-old son Gabriel to the program. She said she tries to find activities that allow them to spend time together while exploring nature at the same time.

“We don’t have a creek near our house, so this was a neat opportunity for him,” she said. “It also gives him a chance to socialize with other children. He really enjoyed looking at all there was to see.”

Savaiano said despite the muddy path leading down to the creek, she thinks families had a good time teaching and interacting with their children.

“I was down at the creek at the end of July, and there was barely a trickle. This weekend’s rains did bring the water level up quite a bit,” she said. “The creek is a magical place because all things live in it. Children of all age levels can really learn something, whether it is a baby enjoying the motion of the water or an older child exploring to see what lives here.”

Sylvia Strahm of Independence said she loves bringing Penelope to any Burr Oak Woods program because the activities are free, fun and full of learning opportunities.

“We have done some Babes in the Woods programs before and have loved them all,” Strahm said. “She is learning and having fun at the same time. This is a comfortable place for her to really explore nature and get all of her questions answered about what she finds. It is also a nice way to enjoy the weather by doing something outside.”