The weather this past week at camp has been just beautiful! Temperatures were in the low 80’s and the air was dry, with crisp, cool mornings. These finest of summer days were possible after Tuesday’s dark, intense rainstorm, complete with plenty of thunder and lightening. The gorgeous days since have been so perfect for time spent outdoors, in the height of nature’s blooming, green growth, that it almost feels like camp could just roll on forever.
But, the truth is, we’ve got just half of it left! There are three adventure-filled, wacky, fleeting weeks of The Nature Place Day Camp still to come.
And to top it all off, after The Nature Place ends, there are three one-week specialty programs taking place August 13 – 17:
- If your camper especially enjoys the hands-on nature, garden, and farm experiences at The Nature Place, Farm & and Garden Days would make a great addition to their summer lineup. Cow-milking, horse-plowing, gardening, and a pizza party extravaganza are just some of what makes up this program. Plus, we’ve added a new extension created for younger campers ages 5 and 6.
- If art and nature-inspired creativity are what excites your camper, our new Art & Earthprogram is just the thing. Taking place in the painting studio at the Red Barn, and mixing hands-on creative work with materials from and time in nature, this new program is for the nature-loving artist.
- If your camper is a teenager age 13 – 16, looking to find community, a renewed sense of self, and meaning through a strong relationship to the natural world, Passagesis designed for them. A wilderness rite-of-passage experience for adolescents, this program combines survival skills and techniques for securing shelter, food, fire, and water with deliberate time for community-building, self-reflection, and ceremony.
Now, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, here are some Quotable Quotes from our recently completed 3rd week of camp:
- An acorn fell off a tree and hit a group E counselor on the shoulder. A camper said to her, “You should feel lucky, because the tree chose you and gave you a gift!”
- Pouring water into a pot on an overnight, one camper said of the stream of water, “That is a parabola. Most things in nature are.”
- Upon seeing Drama Jon for the first time this summer, and knowing that Jon’s wife just had a baby, a camper said, “Look, there’s Papa Jon.”
- After visiting the garden, campers came away wearing beautiful “necklaces” containing the seeds of each of the Three Sisters in a transparent bag. When lunchtime came, a young camper sat down to eat, took off the necklace, and carefully laid it out in the sun. The camper explained, “Now the seeds can eat while we eat…and they eat sunlight!”
This week’s theme was Be’an Green. We had songs, activities, events, and Morning Shares relating to living sustainably on our planet earth.
Activities this week included:
- Nature drumming in Music with Rocki. Campers played high and low nature ‘instruments’, boomwhackers, and other percussive items to play patterns, and took turns conducting some favorite camp songs.
- Being green in the Nature Pond in Nature with Alex. Campers explored animal and plant life at our algae-covered, wooded nature pond, finding dragonflies, frogs, turtles and many types of insects. Campers learned about the predator/prey systems and life stages of pond inhabitants, and a mucky time was had by all.
- Beans and greens all around the world in Cooking with Eva. Campers prepared all sorts of different bean salads, plated on beds of salad greens. Mediterranean, Thai, Mexican, Italian, and Greek bean salads were a few of the varied options.
- Learning trapping techniques in Outdoor Skillz with Joe. Younger campers were treated to a ‘show and tell’ of many of Joe’s greatest treasures including a deer skull and buttons made out of deer antlers, obsidian tools, arrowheads, a pouch made from squirrel pelt, coyote tracks, and more.
- Shooting our best shots in Archery.
- For older campers, learning the art of kokedema and creating a hanging kokedema ball in Art. These were constructed by making mud/clay balls, inserting a small plant in this soil ball, coating the whole thing with moss, and then tying string around it all, with additional strings for support so that the kokedema ball can hang nicely (in front of a window of your home, perhaps). Younger campers learned the art of paper making by giving new life to shredded, used paper. They then pressed this paper into molds and sprinkled them with wildflower seeds, to create plant-able art that will grow pollinator-attracting flowers. Talk about be’an green!
- All sorts of theater/communication games in Drama with Janet. These included MILL, blink and switch, eagle eye, honey, evolution, green bean hunts, reenactments of ‘Jack and the Bean Stalk’, and many more bean skits.
- Playing games with Nature May that taught us about the life of coyote pups and the perils of pesticide bio-accumulation in predator birds, as well as exploration in the Nature Pond with nets and keen eyes – discovering dragonflies, snapping turtles, and frogs.
- Oodles of non-competitive games with Leah. These included ships and sailors, blob tag, cat and mouse, the igloo game, and the handshake game.
- Building bean teepees in the garden. Campers learned about the three sisters (corn, beans, squash) and other kinds of companion planting, and created supports for plants that climb, using sticks and bamboo to form a teepee shape, as well as using other plants like corn or sunflowers as supports. Campers also made seed necklaces that will allow the seeds of the Three Sisters to sprout inside and then be transferred to a pot or garden.
- Petting baby guinea pigs, Hamlet the pig, an Iberian ribbed newt that can poke its ribs through its skin in self-defense, and an armadillo in Outragehiss Pets.
- Rhythmic games and joyous drumming with Mashobane.
Hobbies this past week included archery, chickens, drumming, knife skills, climbing, making lip balm, project runway (a la Nature Place), cooking secret brownies, wild food foraging, wildlife scavenger hunt, wood working (making book ends), and more.
We were all treated to an incredible special performance on Friday afternoon by Arm–of-the-Sea Theater. Using spectacular puppets, scenery and props, with an original live score that had us all singing along, this brilliant performance taught us all about ‘Dirt: The Secret Life of Soil’, including the world of mycelium, microbes, soil chemistry, soil-dwelling insects, plant life and more.
Speaking of treats:
Story Night with Chuck is happening this coming Thursday, July 26th. Come back to camp and join us at 7:15 pm to hear master storyteller Chuck Stead tell beautiful, hilarious, place-based stories of his youth growing up in the nearby Ramapo mountains. You may have heard bits and pieces of his stories from your children; now, come and hear a whole one. This evening event is great for the whole family (you can bring friends, too), but we recommend it for children ages seven and older.
Next week‘s theme is ‘Oh Deer, There’s a Whistle Pig in the Garden!’ What is a whistle pig, you ask? It’s another name for a groundhog or woodchuck, which can be tragic guests to a garden, eating up anything in sight before you can blink twice. There’s also a lot to be learned about them! Did you know groundhogs can climb trees? You can get a sense this week will be animal-centered, whether it be deer, whistle pigs, actual pigs, or other. Our grand plan is to have Coco, our neighbor’s mini pig, star in Morning Share, wearing a whistle around her neck, of course.
Next week there will be two day hikes, two almost overnights, four cedar pond trips (canoeing and camping), and two backpacking trips. Group Q will be doing a four-night backpacking trip, tracing the route of the original Appalachian Trail through Harriman State Park.
The forecast promises rain and thunderstorms, which will keep us in the spirit of muggy mid-summer. Where last week’s cool mornings seemed to hint at autumn, this humid, perfect swimming weather, with thunderstorms rolling through in the afternoons, should keep us well-oriented toward the proper season. If you see a few yellow or brown leaves that have left their branches prematurely, or if you notice the flowering Queen Anne’s lace, pale blue chicory, or see the soon-to-blossom golden rod, just ignore it for a while longer. While the summer season is slowly beginning its rotation toward autumn, we’ll make hay while the sun is high, reveling in the friendships, adventure, and freedom of camp.
Thanks for spending some of your summertime with us at The Nature Place. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
See you on Monday,
PS. The Threefold Cafe’s camp lunch menu has grown! Staying sustainable with stainless steel lunch tins, and always with gluten-free and vegetarian options, they’re now offering:
- Sunflower butter & mixed berry jam on soft wheat bread
- Sliced roasted turkey breast on whole grain bread with mayo, lettuce & Swiss cheese
- Café’s organic hummus, organic shredded carrot, house pickles & lettuce on ciabatta roll
- Tuna salad sandwich w/ pickles & lettuce on soft wheat bread
- Fresh plain bagel with cream cheese
- Fresh sliced ham & Swiss cheese on croissant with yellow mustard.
The Cafe is really the cat’s meow.