Notes from the Naturalist Week 25: The Nature Preschool at HCMA Week


There is nothing wrong with ordinary days.  And today was just that. Ordinary. But that is not to say we did not fill our moments with extraordinary learning.  From a science experiment about the density and buoyancy of objects, tinkering at the object tray, creating habitat for woodland animals with the new “dirt” playdough to finding deer tracks near the gathering area, we filled our day. 

We also had a special visitor today, Dick Tapply, Board President of the Slim Baker Foundation for Outdoor Education, Inc. We were thrilled to share our day with Dick and give him a tour of our Nature Preschool. We had a great conversation about the history of the Slim Baker Area and the importance of carrying on the oral history of the area. We have talked many times about Place-Based Education and the connections it creates. Through this connection to the natural world and this place, each child will take something meaningful away with them. We hope that this will one day manifest in making environmentally conscious decisions or leading to a solid conservation ethic that lives with each child as they grow. 

Slim Baker was a Conservation Officer and a well known and loved member of the greater Newfound Community. In 1953 Slim became fatally ill and the community rallied to find a way to support all the work he had done. Slim had a dream to create a school of outdoor living. With that vision at the forefront, the Newfound Community set out to make Slim’s dream come true. 

“Slim’s many friends, aware of his illness, began to work to make his dream a reality. A group of Bristol residents met early in 1953 to discuss the possibilities for carrying this out. The idea was brought to the attention of Reba Follansbee Hipson, whose father Herbert had always spoken of donating a beautiful 125-acre tract of land around Little Round Top to the Town of Bristol, but without knowing who would want it or for what purpose.

A non-profit corporation, the Slim Baker Fund for Outdoor Living, was formed. Mrs. Hipson volunteered to donate the 125 acres to the group. The members felt that to insure permanence of the arrangement, the Bristol Federated Church should hold the deed to the property, with the understanding that it would be leased to the Directors of the Slim Baker Fund as long as the intent of the original idea was carried out.

In late 1954, a site was cleared for the construction of a rustic lodge. Work on the lodge began during 1955 and it was completed in the spring of 1956. Also in 1956, an adjacent ten-acre field was purchased by the Fund and added to the original acreage. This property provided good access to the lodge, as well as offering some level terrain for campsites. A trail was cut to the summit of Little Round Top.

Beginning in 1960, the area of the Little Round Top summit now known as Inspiration Point was developed as a memorial to Dean Stephens by his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Waldo Stephens. Dean had spent all his summers in the Bristol community while he was growing up and loved the area deeply. He died in 1958 at the age of 28 in an airplane crash. Inspiration Point offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Pemigewasset Valley and much of eastern New Hampshire beyond”. -

We are creating memories and future stewards of this great place. We share our love of the outdoors in hopes that each child walks away from the Slim Baker Area and The Nature Preschool with a strong environmental and conservation ethic.