The Last Summer Camp

Of the three camps we’ve run this summer, this last one has definitely been the most challenging. We planned on this camp being composed of 12-14 year old kids; instead, we had twelve 10-15 year old kids, which made it a bit challenging to do all of our activities, because we were counting on having all older kids. It worked out pretty well though. The games and walks we did all had some sort of focus on careers in the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, from biology to maintenance, and management to law enforcement. On day 1, the kids were mini wildlife biologists. They gathered samples of microscopic life from the small boardwalk on the Impoundment, and learned to prepare their own sample slides to view under microscopes. Day 2 was our usual recycling day, with the Object Scavenger Hunt and Recycle Relay. The kids enjoyed the games, but you could tell the older kids wanted more of a challenge. Day 3 was just a huge walking day. We took the kids out with binoculars, and from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon, we walked around the refuge. We walked about 2 miles round trip, and the kids saw some pretty awesome sights, such as the Great Blue Herons and White Egrets fishing right next to each other. It was a long walk, and it tired the group out (me included), but they enjoyed getting to see so much of the refuge. We had nice weather all week, thanks to the end of the heat wave, but it rained all day on Thursday, the last day of camp. Day 4 was just going to be en environmental game day, but we planned all of our games to be done outdoors. It was a challenge to adapt our schedule and activities into being all indoors, but it worked out. We started the day off playing our own version of the card game Slap Jack, using a deck of cards decorated with different USFWS careers. We read off a description of a career option, then flipped over the cards one at a time. The kids had to smack the card they thought matched the career we described, and earned a point for every right answer. Each kid also received their own deck of cards, so they can play this game at home. After that, the kid worked on their nature journals. The journals were composed of drawings and short paragraphs about their favorite parts of camp. The final activity was an obstacle course about the life cycle of semelparous fish (fish that only breed once in their lifetime, then die). The game is called Hooks and Ladders, and allowed each kid to be an American Shad, trying to get from their freshwater river to the ocean, where they lived for four years, then returning back to the river for spawning. Obstacles included getting under a limbo pole (ie., our broom), getting past predatory animals (two campers), a fisherman (another camper), up the fish ladder of the river (hula hoops), and over a waterfall (a scarf tied to two chairs at knee height). We did this course indoors, using the hallway and a classroom, and it worked pretty well. The kids were full of energy, so they just enjoyed the fact that they could run around, but they learned a lot from the activity. I questioned them afterwards about different parts of the fish’s life cycle, and they answered everything.

a huge snapping turtle the St. Joe's University group showed us

a huge snapping turtle the St. Joe’s University group showed us

IMG_8540 IMG_1587

object scavenger hunt

object scavenger hunt

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