Nature camp!


We found bones in the grass. There were some claws on the foot bone, so my children decided the bones must have belonged to a tiger. No amount of talking about how tigers don’t live here mattered. There were claws, so it must be a tiger.

It is Spring Break in the school system here so lots of places are having camps over this week. Nicholas got signed up for a day of nature camp at Effie Yeaw Nature Center. He had a blast at the camp learning about frogs and reptiles. They built a toad house – although I tried to tell him that we don’t have toads. He still wants to put in the yard, so I said okay.

What else is there to do? We ate a picnic after camp. That was fun. All three of us sat down and ate – with half the other families who had kids at camp. We also went on a hike, climbed trees, walked through a Native American village, looked for tadpoles in a pond, and drew images of things we had seen in the mud. The drawing things was something Nicholas picked up form his counselors, who had the kids draw a fish with sticks in the mud near the pond. We had to do it too – after all, Nicholas got to be the pond director.


Nicholas liked climbing all the trees. They had ones with lower branches that were perfect for the young climbers.

One of the coolest things we saw was a set of bones hidden in the grass. The kids wanted to take them home, but I made sure to repeat the “Take memories and leave footprints” mantra I’m trying to teach them about hiking. There was also a flock of turkeys – 4 of them. One was a big old guy with all the colored feathers. Three were women. He was chasing the women turkeys and my kids thought it was so cool. They kept yelling “Bock bock” after the turkeys as they were chasing them.

There were also butterflies that flew really close to us. Nicholas wanted to know why the butterflies weren’t super colorful like the ones I draw at home. That led into a discussion of nature and camouflage.

Abby decided making "leaf showers" was an awesome thing. It was super cute.

Abby decided making “leaf showers” was an awesome thing. It was super cute.

We had a blast having leaf showers. Abby thought this was great fun because she could pile the leaves, toss them up and yell, “Leaf shower!” It was fun watching this occur. I’m also glad she was wearing a hat because her hair would’ve been filled with dirt and leaves otherwise. Nothing a bath won’t cure, but since she doesn’t like her hair washed, I prefer not to have to do it every night.

They had a playground filled with stumps over different heights. My kids loved running around and jumping on each stump. Abby made  a big production of jumping off them. Nicholas made a big deal of jumping from one to the next. It made me a bit nervous. I had images of blood and cuts and all kinds of nice injuries, but I let them do it because it is important for them to explore their boundaries. If they are wrapped in cotton, how are they going to learn?

What does all this teach the kids? To appreciate life and the natural world. Who knows if they are going to be ecologists or biologists, but it is important to expose them to nature. I have great plans to do a walk a week over summer. It won’t be too far – Abby lasted for a mile on the hike before wanting to be carried. But hiking and nature are an essential part of life that they need to experience. It i as important as book work.

Also I need to remember that you can never have enough sunscreen or snacks. My kids might not eat the sandwich I packed for lunch, but if I have raisins for snacks they will chow down.

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