GREAT FALLS — Kids Secret Shopping Days and the Trim the Tree events took place on Saturday at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
“Four years ago, it was simply Trim the Tree, the idea being we're encouraging families to bring their young ones out and they get to craft ornaments,” Duane Buchi, Director of the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center said, “And the idea is they would craft two to take home for their own use and celebration over the holidays, and then one to help decorate the tree.”
A year after Trim the Tree began, the Portage Cache Store, which is run by the Lewis and Clark Foundation, reached out about combining it with Kids Secret Shopping Days.
“In our resource center, we have an entire workshop of all kinds of little toys and things that kids can shop from and buy for their loved ones,” Buchi said, “Mom, dad, brother, sister, whatever it may be. But they get to do it with their own personally assigned elf who leads them through and helps them with their shopping experience.”
Every gift offered was below $10, and the parents helped their kids fill out a list for people to buy for before they went inside the resource center. While parents enjoyed coffee and cookies, the kids picked out items and had them wrapped by volunteers at the Interpretive Center.
Those at the event also had free access to the entire Interpretive Center, inviting everyone to learn about Lewis and Clark while also getting into the holiday spirit.
The event qualified for the national program “Every Kid Outdoors”, which gives a unique pass to fourth graders interested in the National Parks.
“They earn, by their participation, they get a free fourth grade ‘Every Kid Outdoors’ pass,” Buchi said, “And that will give them from now until the 31st of August, not only them, but their families, free access to every National Park and federal facility in the United States of America.”
Kids Secret Shopping Days was a huge success, with over 100 visitors in the first hour. The Interpretive Center loves hosting the popular event, as they help foster the community connections around the history of Great Falls.
“I mean, we are in this community to serve this community and those that come from really across the globe to come and learn about Lewis and Clark,” Buchi said, “But really, this event is reaching out mostly to our community, trying to provide, you know, a means to be able to maybe establish a tradition.”
This is the main holiday event for the Interpretive Center, but they have more events as the winter progresses. Once there is snow, they offer snow shoe rentals and guided hikes around the area. More information can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/hlcnf/recarea/?recid=61458 or call (406) 453 6248.