What a great inaugural season! Nature Camps was fun, unique, and had as much quality science learning that we could pack into a week!
In addition to providing in-depth opportunities to discover our permanent and special exhibitions (such as Creatures of Light and the Passenger Pigeon), the campers participated in daily programs to help them explore behind the scenes and delve into the natural science of the museum. We fed the fish with our animal care technicians, we investigated birds with museum educators, we ran around in the sunshine (and sometimes in the rain), and generally mixed learning in with a lot of fun!
We offered four different camp themes throughout the summer. Dinosaur and Fossils camps made fossil casts, Bioluminescence camps extracted chlorophyll and explored the difference between fluorescence and bioluminescence, Canada’s Creatures camps dissected owl pellets and one of our Arctic camps got a special visit from ichthyologist Noel Alfonso!
Each week, all of the campers had the opportunity to participate in our Trading Post. They brought in their own nature treasures, were awarded points (based on quality of the specimen, correct identification, and any supplementary observation notes, research or presentation) and then traded for other nature specimens. This activity was a big hit! Said one 10-year-old: “I really like the Trading Post because I got to trade cool stuff for even cooler stuff.” Many campers have already been back the museum on weekends to make more trades and report on the rest of their summer.
Other highlights for the campers included the opportunity to explore each of the museum galleries, to discover and play outside in our outdoor classroom and to make friends with other nature-lovers. The Nature Camps staff was rewarded by having the opportunity to provide “ah-ha” moments for the campers, to share the thrill of learning and to feel the satisfaction and sense of pride at completing an experiment, a craft, or a particular task.
Said one camper: “The best thing today was the experiment where we shmushed a strawberry, put a liquid in it and got to see real DNA.” How cool is that?!
Nature Camps was a great experience for campers, our camp staff and for our many volunteers that helped out. We can’t wait to build and expand upon this year’s success!