BCWF’s Wetlands Education Program has now safely returned from a busy month of travelling the province and hosting free week-long day camps. Our goals of connecting kids with nature, facilitating outdoor learning, and fostering an appreciation for the natural environment took us to dusty Barriere, north of Kamloops, for our first of two camps. Registration for the free day camp among the local elementary school students was a great success with strong support from members of the North Thompson Fish and Game Club. Between August 6th and 10th the coordinators and kids were out and about all day, exploring the many wonders that this rugged old logging town and its surrounding environment has to offer.
From the beginning of the camp, the Wild Kidz leaders introduced themselves with their very own nicknames: “Dragonfly Breath”, “Thunder Cloud”, “Sand Bag”, and myself- “Potato Head”. These names stuck, and for the remainder of the week the leaders were only addressed by their silly names! Sand Bag led the group to the local community centre where numerous team-building activities were played, including Blindfold Soccer and Ninja. After an energy-filled morning, we all made our way to Barriere Nature Park to participate in a round-robin activity session designed by the BCWF Childrens Education Coordinator Interns, including myself. The survival skills group made their own whistles and built shelters out of branches; the forestry group explored the barks of trees and examined insects; and the aquatic group used sponges and buckets to learn about the earth’s water cycle. The kids enjoyed spending time together outdoors: it turned out to be a great first day!
On the second day, the kids were involved in birdhouse building and another fun and interactive activity session involving skulls and furs. Small donated samples of pelts from a mink, otter, lynx, and other fur-bearing animals were passed around and skulls of a muskrat and cougar were displayed. This gave the kids the opportunity to learn about local wildlife in a very tactile way. The birdhouse building team were kindly supported by Mel Schmidt, a member of the North Thompson Fish and Game Club where his expertise was shared on how to assemble the pieces to make valuable habitat. Later in the afternoon, the group hopped onto the bus to travel over to Dunn Creek Hatchery on the Simpcw First Nations’ land. The group was taken around by Tina Donald who described the process of raising over 20,000 Coho fry! A traditional Simpcw stick game was shared and played along with story-telling in the incredible, newly built pit-house.
The fourth day of camp took the group an hour north to the town of Clearwater where we visited world-famous waterfalls, including the Helmcken and the Spahats. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking. The kids could not help, but to snap a few shots and gasp in awe on the powerful geographical processes that have created these waterfalls; each one was unique in its own way. We made a last stop at the Moul Waterfall to not only take a glance from afar, but walk behind it. Slowly and carefully along the pathway, the kids made their way to what seemed like a secret cave behind the falling waters. Everyone was soaked from head to toe by the end of the trek.
The last day of camp started off with a bang -literally- where, up in the Gorman Wetlands, Ben Thiessen of the North Thompson Fish and Game Club (NTFG), Jay Butcher, and Peggy Brown kindly and patiently taught the group about gun safety. Every participant had the opportunity to open and close the safety features of the small bore rifle several times before pointing it at a paper target. It turned out to be a relaxing day with several games of Capture the Flag and Ninja. By mid-day, the group gathered under the tent where Jay displayed and explained the different traps that are responsibly used by trappers. As evening approached, Bob Sorenson from NTFG kindly drove his truck up with a small trailer full of burgers, hot dogs, drinks, and chips. All parents and volunteers were invited to join the coordinators and kids for a relaxing evening. Active campfire songs were led by Sand Bag and Dragonfly Breath brought out blankets for the group to learn about the importance of camouflage in the wild. The week-long camp ended off with hugs, pictures, and see-you-laters!
The Wild Kidz Day Camp in Barriere was not only fun and enjoyable for the kids, parents, and volunteers. It was also an extremely wonderful experience for the Wetlands Education Program to share knowledge about valuing, respecting, and conserving the sacred environment and wildlife. The Wild Kidz Day Camp in Barriere was made possible through the generous financial support of the Government of British Columbia, BC Conservation Foundation, and Hunting BC and in partnership with the North Thompson Fish and Game Club.
Click here to see more photos from this week-long event.