Whether campers are trudging through a stream or picking up creatures from a pond, they are learning things by experiencing them.
This is what Jason Neumann, experiential education manager at Cincinnati Nature Center and camp director at Long Branch Farm and Trails in Goshen, works to provide for children each day at camp.
“I believe experience is education,” Neumann said. “Unless you have the real-world experience, feel the water, get pinched by a crayfish, it’s not the same.”
Children who attend a CincyNature Camp at either Long Branch Farm or Rowe Woods, in Milford, spend each day of camp exploring, asking questions and learning about the environment.
“We’ve been learning how to catch toads and frogs,” Hannah Cosgray, a 7-year-old camper from Eastgate, said. “And guess what? We have caught two snakes!”
Cosgray and her friend Heidi Jurgensen waded up to their knees during camp July 11 catching crayfish, and once they caught the crayfish and observed them, they put them back in their environment.
“We learned how to pick up crawdads the right way,” Jenna Krusne, another camper, said. “And how to treat animals the right way.”
Neumann said campers are encouraged to explore and find things in the creek, which he said provides opportunities for camp staff members to talk about the different animals, rocks or shells that were found.
“We get to go in the creek and we get to find animals,” Barrett Wade, a 6-year-old camper, said. “It is really fun.”
Wade said it was his first time ever catching crayfish and he learned how to be able to tell if the crayfish is a boy or a girl. He said he also learned how to figure out the difference between a worm and a caterpillar.
In addition to learning about wildlife, Neumann said campers also learn about the importance of water during Creek Week at Long Branch Farm, which ran from July 9-13.
He said they learn about how important hydration is and do an activity that shows them how much water is in their bodies.
“It is all about water the entire week,” Neumann said.
Campers are also able to canoe in the deeper sections of the creek to look for different plants and wildlife.
Neumann said campers do most of the paddling and learn skills that help them become comfortable in the outdoors.
“One of my biggest things is teaching kids how to be outside,” Neumann said.
Neumann said as children go through camp they learn things like which plants to avoid and how to better notice things occurring in nature.
“As you get older you can add more skills on top of that,” Neumann said. “If you are comfortable outside you’re more inclined to like it.”
Creek Week is just one of the day camp sessions offered at Cincinnati Nature Center throughout the summer. Other sessions include Adventure Quest at Rowe Woods, Art Camp at Rowe Woods, Summer Memories at Long Branch Farm and Trails and many more.
There are CincyNature camps available for children as young as 3 years old and up to 15 years old.
Prices for the camps range from $135-$305 per week depending on the camp. Rates are less expensive for Cincinnati Nature Center members.
Neumann said there is still space available for other camp sessions this summer. Summer camps run each week from June 4 – Aug. 10.
For more information about CincyNature Camp visit www.cincynature.org.