Former camper and counselor, Hannah Sauce, created and ran our Nature Program last summer. Hannah graduated this past May from Purdue University with a BS in Animal Science. It’s time for her to move out into the “real world,” but we’re happy to say the program she created is up and running for campers this summer. Thank you, Hannah, for leaving a lasting impression on Camp and Campers!
Our nature program was brand new last summer, and it turned out much better than I could have ever dreamed. The class itself consisted of two parts: nature and animal encounters. Campers spent half of the week doing nature based activities outdoors (i.e. nature walks, tree finding, pond studies, activities involving sights and smells and sounds, etc.) and the other half was spent in Animal Encounters.
Animal Encounters was a rewarding class to teach. After I was given the opportunity to create this class, I had to get some animals to fill up the nature center. I spent five months searching the web, making calls and networking in my local community to find them, and procured seven awesome critters for the nature program: a rabbit, chinchilla, ball python, corn snake, bearded dragon, iguana and white’s tree frog.
Campers interacted with the animals individually and as a group. They got to learn about their diets, habitats, behaviors and many other fun and educational facts while getting a hands on experience with an exotic animal.
The most rewarding thing for me as the head of the program and as a counselor teaching the class was being able to share something unique and special with hundreds of children. Some of the campers had never seen some of these exotic animals before or ever had the chance to learn and interact with them. It is truly amazing to see how much you can turn a child’s day around by letting them hold an animal. The human animal bond is an extraordinary thing.
Another thing that should really be noted are the simple and therapeutic properties of the nature portion of the class. Just being outdoors and enjoying nature can make a difference in someone’s life, and Camp Crosley is a wonderful place to do so because you cannot escape nature if you tried. There are several different biomes and many naturally beautiful locations around camp that sometimes campers overlook. The best part of the nature half of the class was letting kids relax and enjoy the world around them. They were able to take a step back from the busy camp day and listen to the sounds of the birds and bugs and trees. I think that is an important part of life that often gets missed.
We also implemented the Four Crosley Values: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility in the class. Using these values, we were shaped our activities in an educational and enriching way. For example, on Responsibility day we asked the campers how they could be responsible with included recycling, turning off lights to save electricity, not walking on grass and even saving water.
Never in my life have I had a job that not only let me do what I love, but also change lives, and for that I am so grateful and honored to have had this opportunity. It is my hope that the children who enjoyed this activity went home and shared their experience with their parents, and that they want to return to camp next year because of that experience.