Summer Camp in the Gardens has been very exciting lately, in the past week of July 4th, with our “Surviving Wild Wisconsin” camp, with a trial run of having all-day camp. Contrary to just having the kids in the morning per usual, it allowed us to explore many new opportunities and activities that are fun and informative for the children. Activities included having allotted time per week to work on shelters to protect them from buckets of water, and having visitors from the community come to educate the children, such as doing chores with the Marathon County Historical Society, a visit from Smokey Bear, and Paul Whitaker who gave a lesson on insects.

Smokey Bear at summer camp at Monk Botanical Gardens

Of all the fun things we did that week, there was one day that stuck out to me. On Friday morning after our visit from Smokey, the kids helped set up a firepit to get a small campfire going, built solar ovens to cook smores, and I had brought in a big box of camping essentials, such as a tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, warm layers, and a water boiler to have the kids “set up” a campsite and learn about what to bring with them on a camping trip. At the beginning of the activity, I asked for a show of hands of how many kids had gone camping before. I was honestly shocked when only one or two of them said that they had. During the activity I delegated tasks such as setting up tent poles and inflating the sleeping pad to the children and, working together, they set up their ideal campsite with the provided materials. I continued to be shocked when most of the kids were setting up the site like weathered campers when only a couple of them had been out before. It was very inspiring to me to see kids who had likely never had to set up a tent before jump into it like that, and also be so excited about it that they wouldn’t exit the tent! We finished up our camping experience with some slightly melted smores from our solar ovens.

Written by Environmental Education Intern, Victor Anderson


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