Saturday, December 6, 2008

I Live for Summer Camp

Ms. Rachel facilitates
live animal encounter, Earth Camp Week 1, 2008

I am gathering information on 50 nature-oriented summer camps around the country. So far, the programs seem to all have a common thread: activities are experiential and place-based, focusing on the resources unique to the site. For example, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ Junior Naturalist Science and Discovery Camp has hands-on activities in a spruce forest, a wildflower meadow, and a wetland, about moose, and during a boat trip to an intertidal bay field station. The Delaware Museum of Natural History’s Summer Camp facilitates activities under themes such as bugs, dinosaurs, geology, comparative anatomy, science tricks – and most curiously – the natural history of pizza.

My original intent for this project was to see how Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park’s Earth Camp compared to similar camps around the country and to find some inspiration (ideas to steal). If time and funding permitted, I would visit each of the camps and observe them in action, but that would probably take 50 summers. I am planning on attending the College of the Atlantic’s Family Nature Camp in Maine in 2011 (as soon as my son is old enough). This program is a place-based, experiential, and interpretive overnight camp for children and their parents. So far, it is the only program I have come across for the whole family, and its activities - like whale watching, eagle watching and hiking in Acadia National Park - sound like a great, enriching way to spend a summer.

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