An Adventure in Ecology Exploration Ages 8-12
Eco-Zone Day Camp is an adventure in nature! The Eco-Zone Day Camp is based in the botanically unique Nettie Marie Jones Nature Preserve. The Nature Preserve has woodland and swamp trails, fields, wildflower meadows, brooks and a classroom building all adjacent to 75 acre Lake Eisenhower. Each week in the summer about 40-50 children ages 8 to 12 are divided into 4-5 groups, each supervised by a trained counselor and junior counselor to learn about ecology and go on an overnight camp-out.
Each week has a theme that will be woven into the basic Eco-Zone activities. Click Here for more information on each theme.
Week 1: Aquatic Adventures
Week 2: America the Beautiful
Week 3: A Bug’s Life
Week 4: Going Green
Week 5: Forest Frenzy
Week 6: Where the Wild Things Are
Week 7: Tadpoles, Crayfish and Turtles, Oh My!
Week 8: Habitat Detectives
The day begins at 9:00 AM with crafts and interactive songs and games. The morning field session lasts from about 9:30 until 11:15 AM. During this session the campers are in their smaller groups (about 10 campers). It is during the morning and afternoon field sessions that the children learn about natural history. All campers will take nature hikes to learn about the forests, fields, meadows and wildlife. A session will be spent studying wetland ecosystems—campers use nets to catch aquatic insects, amphibians and crustaceans. Emphasis is placed on discovery, observation and respect of nature.
Lunch begins at approximately 12:15 PM with hand washing. Campers sit at their picnic table with counselors and junior counselors. After lunch, and a reapplication of sunscreen if needed, campers have a supervised free-play with balls, jump ropes and hula-hoops in the field by the classroom. There is usually an organized game (kickball, soccer, etc.) and a quieter game or craft in the shade of a sun-shelter.
On Monday, before swim time, there is a period of canoe instruction. Basic canoe safety procedures and paddling techniques are covered. The children canoe with their groups on two days (about 30-40 minutes) during the week. A lifeguard, counselors and junior counselors supervise canoe time.
Each day, weather permitting, there is a period of swim time. The campers gather their swim items (suit, towel, change of clothes, water-bottle) from the classroom building and head for the beach. On the first day, the lifeguards review the rules and each child finds a swimming “buddy”. Campers who wish to swim in the deep end are given a swim test by the lifeguards. This swim test consists of swimming one length of the swim area (about 75 feet) using a forward stroke, swimming a second length using any stroke (except dog paddle) and one minute treading water. Usually swim times lasts about 45 minutes. Two lifeguards and the counselors supervise swim time.
The afternoon field session begins after returning to the Nature Preserve Classroom and putting away swim items. Again, the campers are in their small groups. This session lasts from about 2:00 until about 3:20 PM. Activities may include: Native American History, folklore, changes in the land, survival, maps, team challenges and sensory awareness. Wednesday is the much loved stream hike to get an up close (and fun!) perspective of these unique wetlands.
On Thursday night there is an optional campout for all Eco-Zone campers. Campers can let their counselor know by Wednesday afternoon whether or not they plan to stay overnight. The Alton Jones Campus reserves the right to cancel the campout if severe weather is predicted. Tents for the campout are set up immediately outside the Nature Preserve Classroom where campers have access to bathrooms. We provide: tents, dinner, evening snack and breakfast. Activities on the overnight include: a tent demonstration and set-up, a cookout, games, a campfire on the beach, a night hike, bedtime stories and an optional early morning hike.
On Friday morning the campsite is taken down and after breakfast there is a morning lesson lunch and swim. Each day at 3:10 there is an all group closing activity before sign-out and bus pick-up. Friday afternoon at around 2:45 PM, shortly before sign-out, is the Family Program. Campers present songs and skits to close out the week. This is their opportunity to give their families a glimpse of what they did and perhaps what they learned during the week.