From caterpillars and frogs to songs and games, from toasting marshmallows to learning wilderness skills, an exciting season awaits children ages 2 through 12 with Adkins Arboretum’s lineup of 2020 Summer Nature Camps this June and July.
While the term “day camp” has seen its meaning diluted over the years through over-application to virtually any and every activity (even indoor ones), the abundant woods and meadows of Adkins Arboretum offer area kids the true classic childhood experience of outdoor summer fun.
“Making mud pies, wading in streams, catching tadpoles, climbing trees—these are experiences that should be part of every childhood,” said Adkins Arboretum Assistant Director Jenny Houghton. “The freedom to explore nature with friends is the best boredom buster.”
While there’s a whole lot of learning about the natural world woven into the camp experience at Adkins, the salient ingredient is the carefree enjoyment of the great outdoors. “Children learn through play,” Houghton said, “and summer camp is all about play!”
And there’s a camp for every kids’ age group:
For ages 2–3, there’s Camp Bumblebee, “Little Acorns,” June 22–26, from 10–11:30 a.m. (Grown-ups are asked to join their little ones throughout for this one.) Bumblebee campers will snack on blueberries in Emily’s Play Garden, splash in the sprinkler, search for striped monarch caterpillars among the milkweed, dip their toes in the stream and visit the goat herd. Healthy snacks along with crafts, songs and stories will all help the young ones start their summer off in great fashion.
For ages 4–6, there’s Camp Pollywog, “Nature’s Treasure Chest,” June 29–July 3, 9:30–11:30 a.m. Campers will discover the simple joys to be found in the wonders of nature, floating leaf and twig boats down the stream, creating leafy magic carpets on the forest floor, and savoring lots of other adventures along the Arboretum’s meadow and woodland paths. Stories, crafts and healthy snacks will complement the games and guided nature exploration.
Also for ages 4–6, there’s Camp Turtle, “Stream Splashers,” July 20–24, 10 a.m.–noon. Campers will enjoy a whole week of water fun, from splashing through the stream in search of frogs to making rainbows with the garden hose. Along the way, they’ll learn about the water cycle and the fascinating plants and animals that live and grow in watery places.
For ages 7–9, there’s Camp Paw Paw, “Summer Magic,” July 6–10, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Children will experience that special magic of an outdoor summer, picking blackberries, climbing trees, toasting marshmallows, building forts—and, when temperatures rise, cooling off with sprinkler time in the Funshine Garden and whipping up a batch of icy mint tea. Camp songs, games and nature crafts also will be part of the fun. The week will wrap up with a hike to the Tuckahoe Tire Park, stopping along the way to wade and search for freshwater clams, crayfish and other stream critters.
For ages 10–12, there’s Camp Egret, “Wilderness Survival,” July 13–17, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. As the Arboretum’s oldest campers, 10- to 12-year-olds enrolled in Camp Egret will hone their wilderness survival skills, navigating with compasses, creating forest shelters, baking in solar ovens, training in first aid and foraging for native plants—all while learning valuable teamwork and leadership lessons. Healthy snacks will be provided; campers are asked to bring a bagged lunch.
The popularity of the camp experience at Adkins Arboretum is attested to by the desire of the participants to return summer after summer. “Over the past 13 years, I’ve watched my campers become counselors,” said Houghton. “One day, they’ll bring their children to Nature Camp. That’s the goal: It’s all about planting seeds.”
Enrollment is limited, and Summer Nature Camps do tend to fill, so don’t hesitate to register. For more information, and to sign up, visit adkinsarboretum.org.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.
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