EnviroCamp made its debut this summer. This was the first time this camp has been offered at Graceland University. This two-day camp, which evolved from Science Camp, offered area youth the chance to learn about the environment, animals, sustainability and being green.
On the first day, June 21, all the campers, counselors and staff gathered at Resch Science and Technology Hall to begin the day. The campers came in to the registration booth and received a Frisbee with the EnviroCamp logo on it. The staff and volunteer counselors had brought Frisbees, sidewalk chalk and a small pool for bubbles outside for the campers to enjoy as we waited for everyone to arrive. Soon, everyone was counted for, and it was time to go to our location for the first day’s activities.
We all hopped on a bus with our packed lunches and made our way to Mount Ayr, Iowa. After about 20 miles, we made it to Dragoon Trace Nature Center. One of the nature center’s purpose is to “provide an inviting place, with educational programming, that encourages visitors to make a personal connection with nature and offers opportunities to discover, experience and enjoy our local natural resources” (mycountyparks). We would be spending our whole day of camp here and attending four different sessions. The campers were split up into two groups with two counselors each, and we all headed off to the first session.
The sessions were all very educational and fun for the campers. One session was about survival in the wild. Everyone got to see what to pack in your backpack when you go out for a hike, with no intent, but the possibility, of getting lost. Everyone seemed fascinated by the concept of putting petroleum jelly on a cotton ball to start a fire, which was demonstrated later. Along with this session we learned a few simple knots and how to tie them; the square knot seemed to be the most popular among the campers.
The other morning session was going to be about animals and their tracks. We got to see fur, tracks and even fake scat from different animals in Iowa. The end of this session meant it was time for lunch. We went on a short walk on a trail through the woods to get to our lunch destination. We walked up the last hill to find some picnic tables. We ate our lunches then went down the road to a small park, where we played some Frisbee as well as on some merry-go-rounds, then headed back to the nature center.
We had two more sessions before we ended our day. In one of the sessions we learned about Native Americans. We got to see some items like arrowheads (even one that the session leader had made himself) and learn about what Native Americans did to survive. The other afternoon session was about monarch butterflies. We discussed the migration of these butterflies and why milkweed is so important for them. We then got to plant a milkweed seed in a cup to take home. With the sessions over, we got back on the bus and headed back to Lamoni.
The second day of camp brought even more sessions and activities. We still had the bubbles, sidewalk chalk and Frisbees outside, although I still couldn’t make a single bubble. We split into four groups this time and headed off. I took my group to our first session, which was in the chemistry lab. Here we learned about the pH of water, what it means if it’s acidic and how that affects our oceans and marine life.
We also had two different sessions throughout the day about bees and beekeeping. I think a popular activity among the campers was ultimate Frisbee. We went outside and learned to play a game of ultimate Frisbee with the other groups. After this, I was being asked by my group when we could play again. We had one session, led by Jen Abraham-White, about insects as food. Although this concept is scary to some people, all the kids in my group were willing to try cookies that Jen had made with cricket flour, which is exactly what it sounds like. It was all good when they realized it tasted like a normal cookie, but they all seemed to freeze for a few seconds when Jen told them there was about 20 crickets in each cookie. We learned about more things like waterways, predators and prey, and more ultimate Frisbee. As people left, we were still playing Frisbee and drawing with chalk, and eventually the day came to an end, which brought the end of EnviroCamp 2018 as well.
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