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Kids Have Fun at Carleton Nature Day Camp

June 28, 2006

Searching for bluebird eggs, dissecting owl pellets, going on nature hikes—all these activities and more are part of Prairie and Wood Nature Day Camp at Carleton College.

Now in its 31st year, Prairie and Wood (PAW) is an outdoor summer day camp for kids ages 5 to 12 led by Carleton College students. The camp takes place in the spacious yard of Farm House, which borders the College's Arboretum. Each of its eight weeks PAW offers a different topic for kids to explore, ranging from Native American Life to Fantastic Flying Friends (which, thanks to the uncle of one counselor, featured building and flying boomerangs).

The morning session is for children 5 to 7 and the afternoon session for those ages 8 to 12. The four counselors lead the kids in games, nature walks and other activities, always being sure to leave plenty of time for just plain play. "We want to leave it structured enough so they can explore things that interest them," says counselor Kenley Jackson ’08 (Morgantown, W.V.). "They invent games, catch bugs, do lots of things."

Jackson's fellow counselors this summer are Byron White ’08 (Kansas City, Mo.), Janna Morris ’08 (Marine-on-St. Croix, Minn.) and Kevin Close ’09 (Salt Lake City, Utah). The student counselors live as well as work in Farm House.

One day each week is devoted to a field trip; a bird-watching visit to Faribault's River Bend Nature Center was scheduled for Fantastic Flying Friends week, for example, and a trip to a local farm was planned for Down Home on the Farm week.

The kids have fun, says Jackson, but they also take away more than that. "It's important that kids have exposure to being and playing outside so they can appreciate nature more later. That's what's really important about our camp."