Still Hunting

Still hunting can really rock

In the Rockland Journal News recently there was an article about the use of leaf blowers and how some communities are passing ordinances restricting the decibel levels of the blowers, amount of emissions and hours of permitted use. One thing the article mentioned that I hadn’t thought about keep reading…

Spring Peeper Hunt

Sat. April 30th, 7:15pm-9:00pm


These little frogs are the harbingers of Spring. Beginning at dusk, their mating calls sound like a mysterious, swampy chorus calling us into the wetlands. “Hunting” for Spring peepers takes patience, good ears and a sharp eye to spot these thumbnail-sized creatures. Bring boots and a flashlight!

Location: 307 Hungry Hollow Road, Chestnut Ridge NY 10977


Weekly Themes

Announcing this Summer’s weekly themes!

Stump Art. Trees are perfect for any weekly theme, but especially Reach Up! week.

Each week at camp has its own theme. Weekly themes are a fun way to create connections between the various activities we have at camp, and to set each week into a contextual whole. Weekly themes are manifested through our morning skits, our daily songs and many of our activities.

The themes for this year are…(drum roll please):

Week 1  –  Taking Care

Week 2  –  Winter in Summer

Week 3  –  What “Bugs” You?

Week 4  –  Why Did the Chicken Cross the Camp?

Week 5  –  Reach Up

Week 6  –  What! and Why?

Wild Edibles

At the Inwood Greenmarket

Sat. April 23rd, 10am-1pm

The Nature Place will display some of the wild edible plants that await foragers within the city limits! Paul Tappendon, expert wild food forager who works with us camp, will be on hand to talk about identifying these plants, their history and uses. Many are the wild beginnings of vegetables we might find being sold at the market! In addition there will be hands-on activities focusing on the life cycle of plants from seed to harvest. We will examine the development of seeds, sprouts and plants with magnifiers, and we will grind whole grains by hand to make flour.

Location: Isham Street & Seaman Avenue, New York, NY


Ed’s Corner

I’m very excited about our new website! It really captures what The Nature Place is about in an alive, fresh way. As do our new brochure and magazine ads. Thanks to Denise and Chris Capuzzo and their company Intergalactico for the website and to Dale Hushbeck for brochure and ads. We have worked with these friends over many years and are still amazed at their sensitivity, consummate professionalism and ability to translate what our camp is about in different mediums.

Just like our website and brochure, each camp season is also fresh and new, including this one coming up (our 26th at Green Meadow Waldorf School). What isn’t new each year are our strong beliefs about working with children and what children need. If I were to sum up some of the guiding principles underlying what we do, they would be:

Each child has unique or special needs.
Children thrive in a cooperative environment.
Growing up in today’s world can be stressful.
Nature is healing, enlivening, learning and joyful for kids.
A child received in reverence and respect responds in kind.
Making/having a friend at camp makes a difference.
The joy of doing an activity is in the doing.
Little things are important in life (small moments of wonder).
Each year, each week and each day is a new beginning.
Safety at camp is both physical and emotional.
Fun is fundamental. After all, it is Summer camp!

The Power of Chickens

We often tell this anecdote during our open houses:

About 12 years ago a group of 10-year-old boys and girls were up at the chickens – collecting eggs, giving them food and water, watching the interactions between the roosters and hens, putting fresh greens into the chicken run, etc. Once these things were done the campers indulged in doing what they usually describe as their second favorite camp activity after swimming – chicken holding. First you have to catch one, quietly and gently, and then hold with both hands firmly but not too tight. It takes some skill and a bit of practice. One boy was holding his chicken for a while, and right before he placed the chicken back on the ground we overheard him say to himself, in an almost reverential whisper, “Chickens bring the life out in me.”

We’re not sure what this means, but it sounds significant.

Bringing the life out in him

Nature’s Crayons/Fall into Spring

Colors are now appearing in flowers, buds and leaves. Get a piece of white paper, lay it on the driveway, sidewalk or another hard surface. Take a flower petal, a leaf, some dirt, a small flower that has fallen from a tree, a dandelion, an old berry and rub on the paper.

Nature’s crayons!


Fall can also happen during Spring. Not the season, but the act of things falling from trees. See for yourself: place a tarp, an upside-down, opened umbrella, pots/pans, cookie sheets, blanket/sheet, big pieces of white paper under some trees and see what happens.

Magnolia tree flowers about to open


Worm Count

One of the signs of Spring, after a heavy rain, is the appearance of earthworms on blacktop, sidewalk, driveways and parking lots. Do you think that they were washed out of their holes, tried to escape the ‘flood’ on their own, or, like surfers, were trying to catch the ‘big wave’? Maybe they signed up for a ‘cruise to nowhere’ scam.

Sometimes there seems to be hundreds of worms, some crawling ever so slowly, some not moving at all. We at The Nature Place were curious about the ‘hundreds’ number bandied about (as we are curious about many things that make people wonder). So we recently counted the washed up worms on the blacktop driveway leading up to our winter office: Exactly 103!

Rainy Day Worm

We know that worms would not readily fall for a ‘cruise to nowhere’ scam. We did some actual research into this worm/water phenomenon and came up with some interesting information:

A. Worms cannot drown, they do not have lungs, they breathe through their skin which has to stay moist. They can live several days submerged in water.
B. Worms will drown if they stay down in their holes because there will not be enough dissolved oxygen in the water for them to breath.
C. Worms come out of their holes during a rain because the sound/vibration/rhythm of the raindrops reminds them of the pattern of sound that moles will make when digging through the soil looking for worms to eat. The worms surface to get away from the imagined mole.
D. Charles Darwin, who wrote a whole book about worms, suggested that it is only the already-sick worms that get flushed out of their holes.
E. Worms come out in the rain because all of the moisture makes it easier for them to move about.
F. Worms come out during and after a heavy rain to find a mate.
G. A rebuttal to this is that most species of worms mate below the ground, not on the earth’s surface.
These are some theories. Will we ever really know what makes worms come out during/after a rain storm? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s nice to still have some mystery surrounding simple things. For now, let’s just go outside after a rainstorm and be amazed.