This July, the BCWF Wetlands Education Program coordinated two Wild Kidz Camps, held in Chase and Lillooet, BC. Our goals: connecting kids with nature, facilitating outdoor learning, and fostering an appreciation for the natural environment. Within the first two weeks of advertising, twenty-five eager registrants enlisted in each camp and several more applied to a waiting-list – an early indication of how successful these camps truly were.
The camps ran from July 18th to 22nd in Chase, and from July 25th to 29th in Lillooet. Each camp was five days long, and ran daily from 9am to 4pm. As the BCWF Wetlands Education Program is non-profit, the camps were offered for free! Activities were selected with the program goals in mind, and with the hope that the participants would come out of the camps with the desire to further their learning of knowledge and skills introduced at the camp.
The first edition of this year’s Wild Kidz Camp, in Chase, BC, involved a partnership with the Chase and District Fish and Game Club. Club President, Bernie Onderwater, offered his time and a legion of volunteers who were crucial in facilitating several of the week’s activities. The first activity of the week was a hike on the historic Flume Trail within the Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park. Guided by Chase Fish and Game Club members and two local young-naturalists who were participating in the camp, the participants explored the beautiful and intriguing forest ecosystem. The children ended each day of camp at Memorial Park on the edge of Little Shuswap Lake where there was swimming, games, or playing on the jungle-gym.
Another great activity that week was an afternoon all about fishing, with Derek Richarson from the Clearwater Trout Hatchery and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC. Derek gave an informative presentation about fish hatcheries and fish anatomy, helped with a fish dissection, and provided participants with rods to learn how to fish. This was one of the most popular activities of the week, and it led to kids asking “can we go fishing?” nearly every day of the week! Thanks to Derek’s participation in the camp, the children were exposed to two of the main themes of the week: learning to enjoy what nature has to offer; and the practice of conservation.
By mid-week, participants were building birdhouses with volunteers from the Chase Fish and Game Club who graciously donated pre-cut wood, hammers, nails, screws, and screwdrivers. On the Thursday, participants spent the whole day at the Fish and Game Club grounds where they made thank you cards for the week’s presenters, learned and practiced archery, and had the opportunity to shoot .22s. Tim from Tim’s Archery World, from Chase, BC, and Ann from the National Archery in the Schools Program provided several bows, arrows, and targets, and taught the kids about safety and the practice of archery. As well, participants spent a portion of the afternoon identifying and learning about several plants found on the club grounds, and even caught a few Western Toads.
The final day of camp was yet again made possible by the generous participation of the Chase Fish and Game Club who provided several boats, life jackets, and fishing rods for our excursion on to Phillips Lake. Participants enjoyed the beautiful scenery, an abundance of water fowl including many Loons, and one girl even caught a 2lb Rainbow Trout! The children also visited the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge where they learned about compassion towards animals and sponsored two donkeys for the year.
To see more photos from the Wild Kidz Camp 2011 in Chase, BC, check out our Flickr album!
Part two of the Wild Kidz Camp 2011 took place in Lillooet, BC. The WEP team partnered with the Lillooet Naturalist Society who offered their restoration site as a base-camp for the week. Thanks to the generosity of the Lillooet Naturalist Society, camp participants learned many interesting things and were able to practice their knowledge during hands-on activities. The end of each day was spent at Seton Beach where the children enjoyed cooling off in the lake.
The first activity of the week was a bird-watching trip to a local wetland. Guided by resident birder and Lillooet Naturalist Society member Jeff O’Kelly, participants learned the different way of identifying birds – by song, plumage, and anatomical appearance. The children also learned about and painted at-scale replicas of the types of snakes found in BC including: the Western Yellow-Bellied Racer; the Great Basin Gopher Snake; the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake; and several Garter Snake species.
Other activities throughout the week included learning about and how to identify native and invasive plant species. The Lillooet Naturalist Society organised a scavenger hunt so that the participants would be able to practice their knowledge with hands-on identification of several species of flora. As well, local PhD and bear specialist Dr. Sue Senger came to talk with the kids about bear awareness and safety. Participants learned how to identify bears through various anatomical traits and by examining scat.
The Lillooet Naturalist Society also hosted a learning activity at the Seton River Lower Spawning Channel – a man-made extension of the dammed Seton River. Participants gathered and examined aquatic invertebrates and, after some research through provided texts, taught the rest of the group about what they found.
On the Thursday, participants received a presentation from local bee keeper and honey producer Bob Meredith who brought a plexiglass observation case with a hive palette for the kids to examine. Bob kindly treated each child with a jar of his very own Golden Cariboo Honey. In the afternoon, participants learned how to fish in Fountain Lake with the staff of Winner’s Edge Sporting Goods Store. Winner’s Edge kindly provided rods and tackle for those without it, and helped each child practice casting. The fish were jumping everywhere the eye could look, and two lucky participants each caught a rainbow trout! Other wildlife observed included: several Loons; a Great Blue Heron; thousands of Western Toad tadpoles; and several garter snakes.
On the final day of the camp, participants were invited to a segment on Radio Lillooet 100.5. Each child was interviewed live on-air and discussed with Lillooet Naturalist Society member Kim North what they learned and enjoyed most during the week-long camp.
To see more photos from the Wild Kidz Camp 2011 in Lillooet, BC, check out our Flickr album.
The two camps were hugely successful, and we hope that the interest created in outdoor recreation, science, and conservation will grow into a deeply rooted passion for the natural environment. The Wild Kidz Camps 2011 were made possible through the generous financial support of the BC Conservation Foundation, the Barnet Rifle Club, and BC Hydro, and in partnership with the Chase and District Fish and Game Club, and the Lillooet Naturalist Society.
Written by Graeme Budge, BCWF Wetlands Education Program Co-op Intern