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Kids n Nature Summer Camp and School Outreach Program

An intriguing thing happens in Brighton early weekday mornings for 4 weeks in summer:  a bunch of enthusiastic kids can be found waiting in a parking lot, itching to get on a school bus!!  Outside King Edward Park arena, happy parents and grandparents roll into the parking lot and drop off the lucky lot of youngsters.  The children come bounding across the lot to meet Caroline, Skylar and Vivienne, their camp leaders, and are met with a personal greeting.  They are immediately incorporated into game with their peers to get their minds and bodies ready to explore the wonders of Presqu’ile.

A quick bus ride brings our campers to their location of discovery for the day.  Each day is broken into 4 blocks, allowing time for learning and guest speakers in the morning and more active pursuits in the afternoon. Each camp week has a theme to focus the activities.  This year’s themes were Treasure Island, Lilypad Leapers, Animal Planet and Presqu’ile Olympics. 

At the end of the week, photos, drawings, learning logs and ‘burn bracelets’ serve as keepsakes from an incredible week of fun, learning, recreation, friendship and conservation.  Hugs and emotional goodbyeswere aplenty at the final bus drop off!While the smiles from the kids are immediately rewarding, it’s always great to hear feedback from parents, such as these comments:

“Truly amazing camp. The kids where kept busy all day. They brought new information they learned home every day. The camp was very organized. They can’t wait for next summer!!”

“Nice use of guest speakers, variety of activities, a lot of attention given to the students, obvious preparation, highly motivated group leader.”

Thank you to our leaders for providing a top notch camp experience, despite the challenge of a flooded beach; a closed boardwalk; and heat and humidity!  Caroline and Skylar ended their contracts on the last day of camp and are at university.  Vivienne continued on until Thanksgiving to deliver our fall School Outreach Program. Big thanks to our enthusiastic lifeguard Nathan for a job well done.

Kids 'n Nature campers met some student researchers from Penn State and the park's Biodiversity staff, who taught them all about the 'treasures' that can be found on Presqu'ile's islands. Campers learned about the effects of this year's high water levels on the islands and are pictured with some models of the uncommon Common Tern, which is one species of bird that nests there. Later on the beach, terns were spotted diving into Lake Ontario to catch fish.

School Outreach Program

Our spring School Outreach Program was nearly fully booked by the time we started programming in early May.  Caroline hit the ground running, leading curriculum-based programs in the park and in schools.  Then the floods hit.  The Marsh Boardwalk, our most popular program location, was under water.  With the park closing to the public on May 29, we were forced to cancel all the in-park programs.  While this was extremely disappointing to us and the teachers who had hoped to bring their students to the park, Caroline quickly developed an extended in-class program that featured an imaginary trip to the Marsh Boardwalk. She received from help from student researchers working in the park to deliver the program.  It was a hit, as we learned from this teacher comment:

“Caroline and Julio were energetic, and engaging in their approach to the children. From the moment they walked into the room, they invited conversation and inquiry. The presented a quick paced program with information, active games, and artifacts for the children to look at. They alternated from active games to quiet listening activities with lots of engaging visuals. The provided information that the children could make connections to and in language the children could understand.”

Our fall School Outreach Program is expectedly slower than the spring session, as school is just starting.  But there are always some dedicated teachers who have a plan in place early and get to enjoy the beauty of early fall at Presqu’ile.  Vivienne ran our fall program and had a diverse audience of homeschool groups, private schools and public schools from Picton to Cobourg. 

In total, 269 children participated in in-park programs and 602 children participated in in-class programs.  While these are low numbers in comparison to last year, we are grateful to have been able to continue programming despite all the challenges nature handed us. 

It is very rewarding to see the excitement and curiosity displayed by the students and campers and the satisfaction of teachers and parents with the Kids ‘n Nature program. We are very thankful for all the financial support we have received from The Friends, the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund and Canada Summer Jobs.