Ecology Camp gets kids outdoors

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, June 27, 2009

At a remote King’s Fork home, there was much activity on Friday.

Children scurried back and forth in the home’s driveway, carrying potting soil, grabbing fertilizer and filling miniature watering cans. Normally, this might be a brood of children helping their mother with the gardening, but this was a little different.

The children were participants in a week-long Ecology Camp, sponsored by the Nansemond River Garden Club and staffed by volunteers from the club.


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“We want to provide local kids with an outdoor experience,” said Jenni Blythe, a volunteer who runs the camp.

The camp was held last week at the lakeside home of a garden club member. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, about a dozen children took field trips to oyster beds, fished in Lake Meade, potted plants, learned from local beekeepers and more.

“We talked about the relationship between living things and factors that affect them,” Blythe said.

On Friday, the children were busy making potted bee gardens. Each child chose two flowering plants, filled his pot with potting soil, planted the flowers, and added small parsley plants to fill in the pot. The children finished by putting in fertilizer and water, adding bent branches for handles and tying fabric butterflies to the handles.

“I liked going to the park and the oyster reef,” said Eli Dowd, 9. The park he referred to is the 4-H Challenge Course in Wakefield, where the children completed an obstacle course together to learn another important aspect of life — teamwork.

To learn about renewable energy, the children visited the Southeastern Public Service Authority’s waste-to-energy facility, where trash is burned and converted to electric energy. This trip helped the children understand human impact on earth and how it can be minimized, Blythe said.

Also during the week, the children got to go for a hike, swim in the pool at the home, and give a presentation to their parents and grandparents at a cookout at the end of the camp.

“We want them to gain an appreciation of the world around us,” Blythe said.

As the children got covered in dirt on Friday and then dug for worms to fish with, it appeared the camp was successful.