by Blake Herzog
If you’ve been hanging around the lush forests, limpid lakes or rocky slopes of Greater Prescott over the last few months, you may have crossed paths with a 21st century Pied Piper, semi-leading a line of boys and girls as they climb trees, slide down hills and meet the local waterfowl.
It’s about “getting your kids off the screen and into the green,” says Melissa “Honeybee” Slayton, who’s adopted the original Greek meaning of her birth name. And last year’s turmoil and months of at-home schooling has left many parents seeking new chances for their offspring to do just that.
“Children need to be social to play. It is imperative for their ability to become well-rounded human beings. And I had always wanted to start a program like this for kids, and COVID kind of gave it the boost that it needed,” Slayton says.
She launched Honeybee’s Adventure Time at the end of last summer when it became clear most students wouldn’t go back to full-time classroom learning right away. Things have changed, but interest in her club continues to grow.
Activities have expanded from one to four days a week, with hiking after school Wednesday through Friday and family activities on Saturdays. About 80 children, most ages 5 to 13, hike and explore Watson and Willow lakes, Wolf Creek, White Spar, Little Granite Mountain and more scenic and somewhat wild spots.
Slayton says they love to hike, explore, scramble, build forts and towers out of rocks, find caves and tunnels, and watch wildlife together. Older ones help out the little guys. And everybody learns from the challenges they encounter.
“It’s just really neat for them, for me to be there and be like, ‘Well, if you think you can, I’ll be here to help you if you need, but let’s give it a try if you really want to push yourself,’ you know? And so it’s just really cool to see how much nature provides healing and growth for these kids,” she says.
For more information, see the club’s Facebook page, visit
www.honeybeesadventuretime.com or call 928-830-4142.