by Terry Rogers
Abbott’s Mill Nature Center has released their Summer Camp schedule for 2018. According to Matthew Babbitt, Site Manager at Abbott’s Mill, Delaware Nature Society summer camps allows children to play, explore, hike, climb, create and learn.
The first camp will be held from Monday, June 18 through Friday, June 22, Abbott’s Explorers, for children ages 6 to 8. Children can climb GoApe’s Treetop Junior ropes course, cruise on a pontoon boat on Trap Pond, discover inland bay treasures at the Delaware Seashore State Park, hike the trails and wade the streams at Abbott’s and Blair’s Ponds while also exploring the DuPont Nature Center as well as beaches of Slaughter Beach. The cost of the camp for DNS members is $200 and for non-members $260. Nature’s Playground, designed for ages 3 to 5 years will be held the same week from 8:30 AM until 12 PM.
“Make a mud castle like crayfish, hide in a forest fort, build a small dam like a beaver,” Babbitt said. “Kids can have fun in nature playing in the forests, streams, marshes and the open spaces at Abbott’s Mill. They learn to use their five senses to explore and enjoy a summer week outdoors. The program is led by Alice Mohrman and Abbott’s Mill staff.” The cost for the Nature’s Playground summer camp is $100 for DNS members and $160 for non-embers.
From Monday June 25 through Friday, June 29, “Fin-tastic Fishng” will be held from 8:30 AM until 3 PM. The camp is designed for children aged 6 to 8. They learn about hook and net fishing as well as what fish eat, how they live and what they look like on the inside. Campers can bring their own fishing rod or borrow one provided by Abbott’s Mill. One day of this camp meets at Slaughter Beach Firehouse. Matt Babbitt and Abbott’s Mill staff lead this camp which costs $150 for DNS members and $210 for non-members.
Children aged 3 to 5 can enjoy “Water, Water Everywhere” during the same week as Fin-tastic Fishing, during the hours of 8:30 AM until Noon. Children will learn about animals that live in ponds, marshes and streams. They are able to splash in streams and catch aquatic animals in the pond.
“Kids can find tadpoles, frogs, toads and fish in the watery habitat of Abbott’s,” Babbitt said. “They can make crafts and listen to stories about water and the animals living there.” The camp is led by Alice Mohrman and the Abbott’s Mill staff. The cost is $100 for DNS members and $160 for non-members.
Babbitt states that summer camps are very beneficial to children and parents. Summer camp activities not only shape the child’s summer, but have lasting impacts on their development and growth as people.
“The benefits of connecting children with the natural world have been well-documented,” Babbitt said. “A child’s social, psychological, academic and physical well-being is positively impacted through daily experiences in nature. Our experienced instructors are dedicated to guiding campers through safe outdoor exploration where thye form friendships, engage in hands-on learning and develop a personal connection with the natural world.” Babbitt states that DNS is one of four organizations statewide to earn a “Shield of Protection” from the Beau Biden Foundation, recognizing their leadership and commitment to ensuring camper safety.
Although the summer camps do not include specific information about protecting the environment, protecting nature will be an overall theme in all summer camps. Campers visit several locations that are dedicated to land preservation for the benefit of clean water, wildlife habitat and humans. DNS connects people with the natural world to improve the environment through education, conservation and advocacy. Over the next three years, DNS will be focused on three aspects of the natural world.
According to DNS, Delaware has lost over 50 percent of their forest and wetland habitats. This loss, and associated habitat fragmentation, combined with increased stress from invasive species and a changing climate has put an estimated one-third of Delaware’s wildlife at risk of extinction. These losses impact nature’s ability to provide critical ecosystem services while reducing opportunities to recreate and enjoy nature. DNS seeks to protect critical habitats and biodiversity for both their inherent and functional values. In order to protect the environment, habitats need to be protected and connected, resulting in diverse and healthy wildlife populations.
In addition, more than 90 percent of Delaware’s waterways are polluted, yet the waters provide drinking water, habitat for wildlife, places to recreate and are economic drivers. DNS works to safeguard this vital resource by raising awareness and connecting people to waterways, fostering stewardship actions and strengthening environmental policies. Not only are waterways a focus of DNS over the next three years, but Delaware’s diverse ecosystems, including forests, abundant wetlands and agricultural lands, which fuel the region’s economic and cultural prosperity are in danger. Expanding the human footprint has disrupted and degraded these systems. Currently, DNS is focused on and for natural and working lands in order to promote regenerative and resilient approaches to improving Delaware’s ecosystems.
“The best way to encourage children to get outside is for parents to set the example themselves by making time spent outside a priority for the whole family,” Babbitt said. “Even if your busy schedule only allows you to #take5outside, those few minutes can provide a spark of curiosity for a child, and a quick moment of relaxation for everyone. You can get creative with it, too, making a weekly nature scavenger hunt or a weekly nature photography contest for the family to complete together, with the winner maybe getting an extra scoop of ice cream after dinner. Here at Abbott’s, our five plus miles of free, pet friendly trails are open to the public every day from dawn to dusk.”
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