by Gail Smith, BPEEC School Groups Coordinator
With perfect weather for a week of outdoor activities, Science Nature Week was held at Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center June 25th through June 29th. The morning only “summer day camp” provided an opportunity for kids, ages three to 14, to explore the forest, creek, ponds, and trails at Beaver Ponds. It also provided them the opportunity to learn more about nature and the environment.
The program was free for all participants thanks to a grant through the South Park National Heritage Area. Taking the lead to initiate the week was the Mosquito Range Heritage Initiative (MRHI). MRHI secured the grant funding and worked collaboratively with the Boys and Girls Club of South Park and with Beaver Ponds to help organize the staff, materials, and the science/nature themes: Forest Explore, Our Water Comes From the Mountains, Get WET!, Wildlife Is Everywhere, and Learning Leave No Trace.
Participants could attend any or all of the five sessions. Attending youth were divided into age-appropriate groups. Boys and Girls Club members were transported from Fairplay to Beaver Ponds each morning and were joined there by other kids that could be dropped off by parents. All preschool-age children had a parent partner stay for each morning’s activities that included stories, nature walks, and crafts. Additional activities for older kids included use of maps and compass, GPS and a “Geo-Cache” hike, citizen science water-quality monitoring, and a hike on Pennsylvania Mountain. The final morning included learning about renewable energy and making solar ovens to “bake” chocolaty S’Mores!
179 participants attended programs during Science Nature Week (children and parents). Beaver Ponds would like to thank Cara Doyle, Executive Director with MRHI, the South Park National Heritage Area, staff and counselors with the Boys and Girls Club of South Park, and all other facilitators and leaders that worked with the camp’s participants. The Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center provided an ideal setting for youth to engage and explore the beauty of South Park.