Adventures and Aspirations
Camp Elachee 2021: Week 5
Water was at the forefront June 28-July 2 during the Elementary camp as the Middle School campers delved into what different paths environmental careers can offer. Camp Elachee strives to provide nature encounters and ecology opportunities that children may not otherwise get to experience.
Aquatic Adventures and Careers in Nature
With water on their minds, younger campers embraced new challenges and nature encounters during their aquatic adventures. Through exploring the Chicopee Woods and the Elachee campus, they had a week full of H2O games, activities and experiments.
Older campers received hands-on instruction that revealed to them a variety of careers in the natural resources sphere. A highlight (pun intended!) came when the experts at New Urban Forestry put on a tree climbing demonstration and shared ways to identify different tree species while hiking. These young people also visited the Lake Lanier Aquatic Studies Center (a favorite Elachee school field trip). They boarded the LLASC floating classroom to conduct water sampling, while observing Lake Lanier wildlife and learning about careers involving water quality and protection.
One sssssingular activity stood out, however. Learning how to identify a venomous snake from a non-venomous one is a life skill – one campers mastered this week, thanks to special guest Chris Jenkins, from the Orianne Society. This organization is dedicated to the conservation of native reptiles and amphibians and the ecosystems they inhabit. Chris introduced campers to four venomous snakes: a Copperhead and three Rattlesnake species!
Chris conducted demonstrations for campers with these reptiles. Then, he made it possible for campers to get up close and personal with the Copperhead! Chris used a clever, clear tubing system that encased the reptile’s head and upper body that allowed him to safely handle the snake without causing it stress. IMPORTANTLY campers were able to safely view and touch it (if they wanted to).
The result of this demonstration? Scores of children can now identify a Copperhead should they see one in the yard, along a hiking trail or near water. Campers were quick to rush home to share this grand adventure, including facts they learned about how these native snakes depend on aquatic ecosystems to survive.
Do YOU also want to learn more about creatures that slither, crawl, flap and caw? Mark your calendar for the 2021 Snake Day Wildlife Festival at Elachee is Saturday, September 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This seasonal public program at Elachee is a family-friendly favorite.
How often do you share childhood stories of investigating creeks and backyards for animals? How often do today’s youth get to have that same experience? Well, that is a goal for every camper participating in Camp Elachee!
Campers this week were on the hunt to find the most incredible variety possible of native wildlife within the Chicopee Woods. And find them, they did! Among their impressive discoveries were dragonflies, crayfish, slugs, bullfrogs and much more! One group found an itsy, bitsy, baby box turtle at the creek. This quickly turned into an impromptu lesson. Thanks to their quick-thinking counselor, campers learned that box turtles will stay in the same area all their lives, and how the turtle’s shell is part of its spine!
In another group, being cautious and overcoming fears ruled the day. Endearingly, one five-year-old camper decided that the ‘dirt dobblers,’ (dirt daubers) could be her friends after learning they rarely sting. Instead, these insects choose to abandon their nest rather than defending it when another animal comes along.
Stream Ecology and Creek Bed Exploration
University of North Georgia Professor Justin Lang also stopped by this week for a lesson on the waterways in the Chicopee Woods. Focusing on water quality and indicator species, campers gained a better understanding about the importance of having access to clean water for all of us – humans, other animals and plants. One group even conducted an experiment creating their own oil spills in small buckets to simulate what may happen in a lake or pond. They then utilized common clean-up methods similar to what is done in the ‘real world.’ Campers also used their creek time in fun pursuits, such as looking for aquatic critters. They did find mud puppies, crayfish and stone flies, to name a few.
Campers ventured farther along the banks of Walnut Creek than during a typical Camp Elachee week, exploring different parts of this creek that flows from the Oconee watershed all the way to the Atlantic coast. Another fun experiment for one group was creating aquatic dams they built using creek rocks that functioned as temporary, mini-habitats for the critters they found. Afterward, campers returned all animals to the areas in which they were discovered. What a splashing good time!
#campelachee2021 #wherenatureistheadventure #aquaticadventures #careersinnature
Registration closes for each camp week the Wednesday before the camp starts. Many remaining camp weeks have a wait list. Check availability for upcoming camps by age.
The Elachee organzation is very grateful to Northside Hospital, presenting sponsor for Camp Elachee 2021.