By: Anne Muvdi, Berks Nature Preschool and Eco-Camp Director
As we wrap up another successful year of Berks Nature Eco-Camp, I always enjoy chatting with the counselors and reflecting on the highlights of the summer. Every year our Eco-Campers surprise me when they talk about their favorite parts of each week, a lot of times it is not what any of us would have predicted. Each week of Eco Camp is based on a specific theme with the underlying concepts of living “green”, protecting our environment and gaining a deeper understanding of and commitment to the stewardship of our earth.
Week 1 Color Outside the Lines: Campers loved collecting items and creating their nature mandalas.
Week 2 Biking Through Berks: Five (5) preschool campers learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels this week! The K-5th graders loved exploring the Schuylkill River Trail (SRT).
Week 3 Wilderness- A Survival Adventure: Campers loved making their own trail mix recipe!
Week 4 Dive into a World of Water: The highlight this week was using creek viewers for a close up of the aquatic animals in Angelica Creek and the Blue Marsh Ranger’s watershed flood mitigation activity.
Week 5 Animal Exploration: The live reptile, mammal, and bird programs thrilled the campers.
Week 6 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle- Campers loved creating baskets and participating in an egg drop challenge.
Week 7 STEAM: Time to Tinker: Building bridges with biodegradable packing peanuts was a favorite. Also, constructing their own raft to use for water testing in the creek thrilled the campers.
Week 8 Gardening/Farm to Table: The kids loved sampling new foods and spending time in the garden. They also loved the visit with Quiver Farms Traveling Farm.
Teen Week Citizen Science: The campers tested Angelica Creek water and decided the water was clean enough for Creek Snorkeling which was by far the most fun!
Teen Week Bike Week: The campers were able to ride on the mountain bike terrain park at Blue Marsh Lake. They biked close to 50 miles this week!
My Personal Highlight: English Dawson, Community Outreach and Outreach Assistant, joined in on the Eco-Camp fun by teaching the campers of all ages a garden lesson every week. Her dedication to the weekly lessons was not only a highlight of my summer but also to everyone who participated in Eco-Camp. Her creativity and thoughtfulness engaged campers of all ages by getting them involved in the hands-on experience garden tending involves. Her lessons included food tasting, harvesting, canning, storytelling (using story rocks) and games all centered around our Teaching Garden.
We are now looking forward to another exciting school year at Berks Nature Preschool! We are welcoming 45 new families in September along with 21 families from this past school year. In preparation for the school year Joan Marten and I attended Level II Nature-Based Teacher Certification in Baltimore, MD this past July. The training is an outdoor 5-day program focused on an in-depth study of best practices in nature-based early childhood education. The goal of outdoor education is to provide meaningful outdoor learning experiences for children while allowing them to explore the world freely and at their own pace. I found level II to be personally meaningful because there was a focus placed on each attendees’ educational program vision, staff mentoring, and risk management philosophies.