Our Nature Campers arrived this morning under cloudy skies with a temperature of about 60 degrees. They were met by their Team Leaders and Camp Assistants, who assembled each of three teams, each team overseen by a Volunteer Naturalist. Each of the campers signed the Camp Banner. The teams this year are named the Chickadees, the Beavers, and the Owls. Ask your camper to demonstrate their team’s call. The campers were issued their caps, backpacks, drawing supplies, loupes, and water bottles. Each camper was provided a snack to sustain them through the morning.
Our Camp Director, Charlie, had the campers throw small furry animals back and forth to each other to loosen up the teams and introduce each other. Ask your camper what animals were involved.
The campers returned to the EE Shelter for an introduction to Journaling, which is an important aspect of the Nature Camp.
We provided each camper with a journal to record their thoughts and observations during the week.
After a restroom break, each team of campers and staff was photographed before they hit the trails at about 9:35.
The teams visited the vernal Pond area, the Oak Savannah, and the Habitat Edges, where the campers made their first entries into their journals during their first “Sit/Spot” of the week.
Ask your camper what a Sit/Spot is.
Everyone returned to an area beside the Visitors Center that was mowed by the Fish and Wildlife Service Staff for everyone to experience the “Build a Tree” exercise. Each camper, team leader and camp assistant played a role of a specific part of a tree and demonstrated the function of each part. What part did your camper play and how did they demonstrate its function?
Everyone then returned to the EE Shelter, where Gary Fawver, one of our Volunteer Naturalists, presented the skulls and pelts of several animals which can be found on the Refuge. These animal parts are purchased by the FWS specifically for educational purposes. The pelts are from animals that have died from natural causes and the skulls are plastic models, and very realistic.
The campers then did some journaling to capture some more of their favorite aspects of the day.
We will end each day of camp with a camper or two from each team collecting comments from their teammates and sharing them with the larger group. Maia, representing the Chickadees, reported that the Oak Galls, both on branches and leaves, were fascinating. The fact that they were the home and provided food for wasp eggs to mature was particularly interesting. Jarett, from the Owls team, was congratulated for his journal entry of a skull, which includes measurements of its dimensions and labels of the skull parts. The Owls like the Pond area, noting that the wet ground there is a great place to see mushrooms. Ryker and Leah, from the Beavers, were also intrigued by the galls, and commented that their yellow and orange color was distinctive. Leah found a fallen and broken leaf gall, which she picked up to examine. She observed that the inside of the gall was stringy and sticky.
With a few minutes left before their parents arrived, Charlie used one of his ‘toys’ to model the power of team cohesiveness. He held a ping pong ball with a light inside and two contacts on the outside. When he held the hand of a camper and one of the contacts on the ball, and the camper touched the other contact with their other hand, the ball lit up. When a second camper held the hand of the first and then the second touched the contact with their free hand, the ball still lit up. We added all of the campers and staff to the chain, one at a time. As long as the chain was continuous, with each camper holding hands and both contacts touched by the chain, the ball lit up. If any pair ‘broke contact’ the light was extinguished. Male, female, tall short, old, young – it didn’t matter, working together “keeps the lights on.” After only one day, it's apparent that this group of campers and staff won't break the chain!