Nature Camp Winds Up
The Nature Camp mission is to encourage children’s natural curiosity of the outdoors by engaging them in fun and educational activities. Nature Camp seems like a bubble, an intentionally built community, and there are usually many in the community who love and care about the magic that is the nature camp experience. It takes a village and begins with the Wildlife Center’s board and staff, community leaders, camp alumni, colleagues, and donors who make camp possible and provide a great experience each year.
The Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center has successfully been doing this since 2003 for youths 4-14 years old, reaching out to over 150 campers each year on Middle Bass and at Put-in-Bay Parks to help them learn about the Lake Erie Island’s ecosystem. Topics we have covered over the years have included bats, snakes, turtles, fish, butterflies and moths, slugs, caves, and much more. This year Nature Camp participants learned all about Lake Erie!
The Middle Bass Nature Camp was June 25-28, 2018. The camp was at the Middle Bass Island State Park each day. Nature Campers explored the science of Lake Erie through investigation and observation. We went into the ponds and dipped for micro and macroinvertebrates creating “enclosed ecosystems” from our findings. We were able to find dragonfly and damselfly larva, scuds, tadpoles, beetles, fly larva, and much more. Rangers from Perry’s Monument came over for a day; they had activities about predatory animals that depend on water as a food source and discovered how all creatures are connected through water- including us! Biologists from OSU’s Stone Laboratory also came one day. They brought salamanders, turtles, and fishes native to the islands so we were able to have hands-on and up-close interactions with these animals which depend on the islands’ habitats. Fishing was a nice bonus as we were able to catch bass, perch, and freshwater drum/sheep head.
Environmental Adventure Camp I. (9-10 years old) took the Sonny S Ferry to Put-in-Bay for an afternoon to Kayak. Although it was a little windy and choppy on the water we had a blast paddling around Gibraltar Island, and we ended the day with much-deserved ice cream before heading back to Middle Bass Island. Our campout was canceled due to bad weather, but we still seized the day and cooked s’mores over the fire, and cooked pancakes, bacon, and eggs the following morning.
This year we started the Wildlife Center Nature Camp Counselor Program. This is a curriculum-based project geared toward youth 15 and older. This program offered our counselors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to become involved with the Wildlife Center’s education and conservation efforts of the Lake Erie Islands. Counselors experienced all components of the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, from learning about the island’s wildlife, presenting educational programs, working with wild animals, creating displays, viewing the Put-in-Bay Tree Carving and so much more. Counselors are a large asset to the camp program! There is no way we could have as much success without this team of wonderful help and support! The 2018 counselors were; Emily Beal, Sydney Ralofsky, Lizzie Rader, Lucille Schneider, Amanda O’Laughlin, Olive O’Rourke Scherf, Larissa Swonger, and Aidan Ptak.
Thanks to; Glenn Cooper for being the chase boat for our kayaking day and Kayak the Bay for hosting Nature Campers each year. Thanks to our hardworking staff: Jackie Taylor, Kate Ptak, Debbie Larcey, Renee Market, and Maddie Heart. We could not put the camp together without all their great ideas and support! Thanks to our supporters – The Middle Bass School Board, Miller Boat Line and The Sonny S for passage for speakers and for transportation, the Ohio Division of Wildlife for books, CDs, magazines and tattoos, The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory for support, as well as our staff and volunteers at LEINWC for copying and stapling, We really appreciate all the help we get in teaching kids about the beautiful islands they live and play on! With the 60 plus kids who participated in Nature Camp this year, we are bursting at the seams at the LEINWC. Please consider a donation to our Building Addition Fund so that we can continue these great programs