Create Wonderful Moments in Nature: Here, There, Everywhere

Nature is everywhere at camp, and we sometimes walk right past it. Whether your camp is in a city or the country, there is nature. It might be roly-polys in the leaves, mosquitoes buzzing past, or owls hooting late at night. Yet, we too often only think about it if we are working as part of a camp nature program. Simple ideas can allow you to take advantage of teachable moments in nature without being an expert in biology. Likely, the campers will catch on to your excitement and be curious about what might be next.

Putting Nature in Perspective: An Interview with Scott Sampson, PhD

Scott Sampson, PhD, is a dinosaur paleontologist, science communicator, and passionate advocate for connecting people with nature. He currently serves as vice president of research and collections and chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, where much of his work focuses on rethinking 21st-century cities as places where people and nature thrive. He is perhaps best known as “Dr. Scott,” host and science advisor of the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS series Dinosaur Train, which airs in more than 100 countries.

Putting Sustainability into Practice: Simple Strategies to Implement at Camp

Next to national, state, and municipal parks, camps manage some of our most important natural resources. Camp settings not only introduce children to natural resources, build their skills to recreate in those resources, but can also act as a model for sustainable practices. In the 2009 and 2011 surveys of camp directors, the American Camp Association (ACA) highlighted sustainability practices as a key emerging issue (ACA, 2012). As an issue on camp directors' minds, we must first start with defining this concept.

Nature Noticing Excursions: Making Connections at Camp through Seeing, Story, and Drawing

In the November/December 2015 issue of Camping Magazine, I wrote about a phenomenon I called Noticing Deficit Disorder (NDD), a culturally induced form of vision loss and nature blindness, which I believe camp can help cure. Those with NDD will frequently walk down a street and completely fail to notice, much less appreciate, the beauty of the natural world around them. Invariably, they are too distracted by their hand-held digital devices.

Keeping It Going: The Nature Connection Year-Round

So you did it! All your planning and intentionality in working to make connections to nature a cornerstone of your program are paying off. You watch happily as, in those glorious days of camp, children play enthusiastically and freely in the woods near their cabins, finding lucky stones, or making mini-dams in the brook. Or maybe they cleared a vacant lot and planted cucumbers and tomatoes. Perhaps they managed the recycling on their own or worked to conserve water. They learned all the local trees and enthusiastically studied bugs on their way to rest hour.

Public Lands Use - Resources for Camps

Use of public lands and waters is essential for many camp programs.  It is estimated that at least 9 percent of all camps use public lands and waters for at least a portion of their program. ACA partners with government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels to achieve our common goal of increasing access to public lands for young people and of helping to inspire an environmental ethic among campers and staff.

Noticing Deficit Disorder - How Camp Can Restore The Art of Seeing the World

We are in the midst of an epidemic of visual impairment no medical doctor can fix — but which camps might cure. Back in the `60s, artist, researcher, and psychologist Rudolf Arnheim (1969) lamented that the American school system had become a “12-year apprenticeship in aesthetic alienation,” — producing children whose eyes could no longer see. Today, our children’s entire minds (and many of our own) have become serfs to technology, seduced into acquiring contrived world views presented on a dizzying array of digital platforms.

Site and Facility Considerations for Reconnecting Children and Nature

Many environmental education centers operate as though they have both “site” (property) AND “facilities” (buildings), viewing them as distinct and separate entities. Most centers have both developed areas and natural areas and may even design their environmental education programs to use these areas independently. This model undoubtedly provides quality environmental education in most places, yet there remains an opportunity for camps and environmental education centers to more effectively utilize their site and facilities to fully embrace environmental stewardship.

Radon Contamination - Regulations Applicable to Camps

Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers and an important national public health issue.  If your camp has buildings, you should be familiar with the issues related to radon.