Spring Break Eco Camps

This Spring Break, two groups of enthusiastic campers took on an exciting and educational adventure in Stanley Park. SPES led the campers through giant trees, sandy beaches, and hidden wetlands.

Week one was Animal Detective week. The campers sharpened their detective skills through learning how to use a variety of tools – bug boxes, binoculars, iPads, microscopes – to explore the habitats of Stanley Park’s birds, mammals, amphibians and more.  They tried to unearth the answers to some of the mysteries of the forests and ocean.

“Our camps allow children to use their sense of wonder as they explore the Park and build a relationship to the natural world around them,” explains Rachelle, an Eco Leader in the camp. “As the week progresses, we see the mental and physical benefits which playing and learning outside all day brings to the kids; you can see it in the big smiles they wear.”

Campers preparing for a game of Eco Tag! (Photo: Jess Causby/SPES)

The theme for the second week of the camp was Eco Leaders’ Adventure, which connected the campers with nature and inspired them to make a difference. This fun-filled week explored the diversity of the Park and how to take action through conservation and citizen science. From wetlands to rainforest, to the intertidal zone – these campers had an adventure they will never forget. Through their developed leadership and team work skills, they became true stewards of the Park.

“My favourite part of the camp is finding things like insects during the bog search, it’s so much fun. I love seeing the animals and lots of nature,” explains Karlo, a camper on the EcoLeaders’ Adventure week.

I went to visit the Eco Camp to see what the kids were up to. When I arrived, the campers were busy making bracelets, braids and baskets using ivy which they had picked the previous day. The kids explained to me that ivy is an invasive species at the Park, so pulling it out helps to restore the native plants. Sounds like they have been learning a lot!

Campers get creative with the ivy they removed from the Park. (Photo: Jess Causby/SPES)

Also an Eco Leader, Chandehl explains, “I really love how the campers who worry about getting outside and who don’t like the bugs and stuff, really enjoy themselves by the end of the week, and end up loving the bugs! It’s great to see the kids go from being so apprehensive, to being confident and having lots of fun.”

The kids worked on an Eco Spirit project each day during the camp. This project involved campers getting together and creating something which can be used to help the Park. Cleo and Nicole were working hard on their “Pick it 2000” machine, which is a special garbage truck helping to tackle the problem of litter in the Park. Nova and Owen created a “seed shooter” which plants seeds into the ground so that trees can grow really quickly. Some really fantastic ideas to help tackle some of the Park’s issues!

Nova and Owen’s “seed shooter.” They have birch, oak, spruce, fur, cedar, palm seeds ready to shoot out and plant trees – and it only costs $430! Bargain! (Photo: Jess Causby/SPES)

“The major things the campers walk away with are an increased self-confidence from trying new things, a strong sense of environmental stewardship, a deeper connection to nature, and a sense of belonging,” says Eco Leader Rachelle.

SPES will be offering a broad variety of summer day camps for kids aged 7 to 11 starting in July.

For more information, please visit: http://stanleyparkecology.ca/spes-summer-day-camps-for-kids/

By Jess Causby, Communications Volunteer