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Columns

Experience summer nature camps at Hickory Knolls

Immerse your child in nature this summer with a variety of camps at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. Not only will they reap the benefits of being outside, they will become scientists, explorers, artists and ninja warriors through hands-on activities to keep them learning, amazed and engaged.

There are one-week, half-day camps for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, and full-day camps for grades 1-8. Nature camps also are available for ages 2-5.

A change from years past is how campers are separated into age groups. Instead of three grades per camp series, there are two grades: Pathfinders include kindergarteners and first graders; Trailblazers, second and third graders; and Voyagers, fourth and fifth graders.

Even though the camps are separated into smaller groups based on age, the experiences are similar. For example, all camps have a “Ninja Warrior” option, where children can test and compare their skills with animals through hikes, obstacles and hands-on challenges. All activities are age-appropriate, so older campers may hike further into the woods or have tougher challenges.

A new camp offered across ages is “Gross-ology” for grades K-1 and “Animal Ewww” for grades 2-3. In each session, campers learn about the slimy and “gross” animals, insects and other natural materials.

“Kids are fascinated with the grosser side of life, and our goal is for campers to say ‘cool’ more than ‘eww’ during the week,” said Laura McCoy, nature programs supervisor.

Another new option for children (and parents) is a half-day afternoon camp. Previously, only a morning option existed.

Night camp, which was previously woven into a week-long camp, is now a standalone experience, held on June 11 and July 23.

“It will have all the perks of night camp, without the restrictions of signing up for the entire week,” McCoy said.

Those perks include a night hike, critter visits and roasting s’mores by the campfire. The night camp is for ages 8-12.

Jr. Naturalists camp returns this year, giving children in grades 5-10 the opportunity to be a role model to younger campers. With guidance from a camp counselor, Jr. Naturalists help children in the Pathfinders series, sharing their love of nature while also developing their own leadership skills.

Hickory Knolls ensures returning campers will get a fresh experience with new activities.

“We want them to become even more comfortable with their surroundings and get even more hands-on experience in nature, so they continue their development and enjoyment of nature,” McCoy said.

And for newbies, nature camp provides opportunities to see how exciting nature is in their own backyard, she added.

To register for nature camps, visit www.stcparks.org or for more information, call Laura McCoy at 630-513-4393.

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