For generations, children have enjoyed the magic of summertime. With freedom from school just a backdrop, children have long taken pleasure in the fun and adventure of the great outdoors. For children, something undeniable takes place under the influence of nature.
For more than 35 years, the Watershed Nature Camp has offered the fun and fellowship of summer camp infused with the magic and inspiration of nature and the timeless value of education. The day camp is located on a spacious 930-acre nature reserve, with rolling meadows, cool forests, a pond, the Stony Brook, and small streams. The camp also utilizes a nature center, butterfly house, and organic farm for some of its activities.
“We aim to connect the soul of the child and the heartbeat of the natural world,” says Jeff Hoagland, education director of the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association, “a connection critical to the growth, development and well-being of our children.” Mr. Hoagland notes that the camp, where he first worked in 1984, embraces the tradition of exploration, play, inquiry, and creativity. Implemented by a professional staff, campers enjoy a camper-to-staff ratio of 6 to 1. Campers participate in a wide variety of activities from stream explorations and insect safaris to shelter building and a Friday afternoon campfire. Older campers enjoy campouts and field trips including canoeing, fossil hunting, and a visit to a wildlife rehabilitation center.
The Watershed Nature Camp runs from Wednesday, June 26, through Wednesday, August 21, with different sessions each week. Most weeks, there are three sessions for different ages. Weeks are arranged thematically with activities and explorations centered around water, earth energy, natural handcrafts, outdoor skills and animals.
There are mini-camps for preschoolers and kindergarteners and week-long sessions for school-aged children entering first through sixth grades. Students entering seventh through ninth grade can enjoy a two-week session, Outdoor Adventure, with a canoe campout on the Delaware River and backpacking in the Pinelands, beginning Monday, July 8. There is also a three-day mini-camp, Teen Trekkers, beginning on Monday, August 19. Teenagers 15 years and older can participate in a two-week Counselor-In-Training program.
“Children are clearly having great fun, many coming week after week,” says Mr. Hoagland. “Parents recognize that all of this exploration, investigation, and play enhances their child’s creativity and social development, helps build problem solving skills and nurtures a healthy sense of wonder.” It sounds like fun, and a good value.
Open houses on Saturdays, March 9, April 13, and May 11, 2 to 4 p.m.
Watershed Nature Camp, Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association, 31 Titus Mill Road, Pennington. 609-737-7592. www.thewatershed.org/education/summer-camp.