Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to Camp

By: Chelsea Carter

As a kid I can remember my mom enrolling me in practically every summer camp. I was the hyperactive kid who wasn’t allowed to eat chocolate at snack time in art camp, the clumsy kid who knocked over the Bunsen burner in science camp, and the eager kid excited to learn new tricks at gymnastics camp. Every year I looked forward to summer and the adventures it would bring. When given the assignment to spend the day at the State Botanical Garden’s Earth Garden summer camp I jumped with excitement and was ready to explore nature with the campers.

We started off the day reviewing what the campers had learned earlier in the week and singing a cute song about the water cycle. The group received the daily letter from the mysterious jabberwocky outlining the campers’ task for the day. Along with the note were tools the kids would need along their journey. Today’s task was to catch creatures from the stream and observe their habitat. During the hike to the stream, campers were encouraged to find water. Whoever could find water got to wear the coveted “Sop the Drop” necklace. This trains the campers to be aware of their surroundings and is a fun way to keep the kids attention on nature. However, the most popular conversation on our journey involved the jabberwocky. The question of who is the jabberwocky echoed from camper to camper. A group of boys had formed the “Mystery Club” and deemed themselves investigators of the jabberwocky. The prime suspect for today was Camp Leader Cora. The mystery of the jabberwocky kept the kids entertained during the walk to the stream and ignited the imaginations of many campers.

Camper showing off Sop the Drop.

At the stream the kids learned about the signs of healthy water and the creatures that live in the stream. They picked their tools for catching creatures and went to work. It wasn’t long before the campers learned the best way to catch fast fish and sneaky crawfish. On the walk back to the classroom, the kids played Fox, a hide-and-seek game that helps the kids stay aware of their environment. By the end of our day at camp the kids couldn’t wait to share their exciting adventure with their parents.

While these kids could have learned about the ecosystem of the stream through other creative teaching methods, the hands-on experience provided by the Earth Garden camp increases the chance that this new information will be remembered and creates a more interactive atmosphere. The campers will remember the fun day they had at the stream and what they learned for many years to come, and so will I.

For more information about educational programs at the State Botanical Garden visit our website.

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