Saturday, December 29, 2007

Michigan Kids Should Be as Lucky as these Hoosiers

Fort Wayne kids outdoor camp
John Moore, a volunteer for the camp at Fox Island, points out different types of birds to Kelsey Haley, 11, left, and Kolin Behrens, 9, right, during a hike in the woods.
photo by Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
Without the help of computer aids, PowerPoint slideshows or videos, the group of children at Fox Island Nature Preserve near Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Thursday was getting an education and a breath of fresh air at the same time. The Winter Survival Day Camp was in session, and nature was the classroom.

For two days, campers learn the ins and outs of winter wilderness, complete with hiking trips, survival training, marshmallow "snowball" fights and, of course, fun.

With more children spending most of their time indoors, there is a danger of a generation out of touch with nature, said Natalie Haley, Fox Island environment educator.

"The idea behind this (program) is to get kids to develop naturally outside," she said. "There are so many things they have to be inside for all the time now. This will teach them how to enjoy the outdoors."

Thursday’s education started with learning to build fires, and Haley was surprised to find that some in the group had never held a match before.

Animal track identification came next, leading up to the hour-long nature hike with Ron Zartman, the park and education manager.

"We really want these kids to enjoy themselves," Zartman said. "We hope that they become aware of their surroundings and start to appreciate nature. We want them to develop a love for the outdoors so they will stick with us through the years."

read the full story in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, "Camp focuses on nature", by Allie Townsend, Dec 28, 2007- see FAIR USE notice
Fox Island Nature Preserve
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