Community Ag Alliance: Summer camp goes beyond fun | SteamboatToday.com

Community Ag Alliance: Summer camp goes beyond fun

Jake Castle/For Steamboat Today

For many of us, summer is all about getting outside and enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Those of us who live in Colorado mountain towns know we have a very short and active season to enjoy all that has been hiding from us under the snow for most of the year. Given our limited window of opportunity, we are reminded of the importance of unplugging from our indoor lifestyle and exploring the outdoors while we can. Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything much better." Everything in our lives has its roots in nature, from the products we rely on day-to-day to the life lessons we live by. Connecting our children to nature during the summer season is an essential part of them understanding their world as a whole in greater depth.

Many summer camps provide a rich immersion experience in the natural world. The atmosphere at camp is much different than school in that learning is hands-on and experiential and takes place outside. Without the pressure of being formally evaluated on their understanding of a concept, many children relax and experience their learning in a fashion that is enjoyable. "Mother Nature" is one of the best teachers your child will ever have. Examples of her teachings are scattered around like a scavenger hunt, just waiting for a child to discover them by asking the right questions. Guided by a knowledgeable camp naturalist, children inquire about the world around them, understand their own place in life and in the natural world and have fun while forming meaningful relationships with their peer.

Children in our community thrive in the summer camp environment. Yampatika's camp programs are available to children ages 5 through 14, and need-based scholarships are available. Here are a few things that parents have had to say about their children's experiences at Yampatika camp.

"Our daughter comes home from camp talking about all the animals, crafts, events and covered in dirt-which means it was a good day," said the parents of a six-year-old camper.

Another parent described the camp experience as "the most fun my child has all summer." It is important to remember that all of this fun was educational. Children come away from a camp experience with a better understanding of how the world works and a positive outlook on learning in the outdoors.

If you haven't sent your child to camp yet, is not too late. Many offerings are still available. As noted in a previous article by Booktrails, getting your child out to an educational camp may also help prevent "the summer slide." Yampatika's summer camps run through the first week of August, and space in many camps is still available. Due to generous independent donations, we still have need-based scholarship funding available. Send your child to us for a week, and we will ensure they return happy, dirty and full of excitement about the outdoors.

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Jake Castle is Yampatika's Environmental Literacy Program coordinator.