Only three weeks remain until it’s “So Long to Summer!”
This Summer has been a busy one for Irvine Nature Center! Besides day-to-day operations such as animal care, outreaches, and field trips, each week has been jam-packed with campers!
So far Irvine has held 30 different camps this summer for a variety of age ranges! Themes included Wildlife Safari, Bugs Bugs Bugs, Tiny Chefs, Woodlands Wonders, and more!
This past week I had the pleasure of counseling the Ways of Wildlife camp for our Explorers (Children aged 7-9). Seventeen children were able to experience the day-to-day inner workings of animal care at Irvine, Soldier’s Delight, and the National Aquarium!
At Irvine, the campers would care for the animal ambassadors each day. Animal care duties ranged from feeding the Toads to cleaning the pond in the Box Turtle exhibit to giving the Hedgehog a treat to watching how a Snake eats! Campers were responsible for reading the animal care checklists and making sure each item was done before signing off. Reading and writing skills were gained, along with the ability to follow directions and ask questions as needed! The favorite animal seemed to have been the snakes each day. Campers were fascinated with how snakes are able to unhinge their jaws and eat a mouse much larger than their head!
The field trip to Solider’s Delight proved to be just as delightful as the kids had hoped. After taking a solid hike around the Choate Mine Trail through the Serpentine Barrens ecosystem, campers were able to tour the aviary. Seventeen birds call Solider’s Delight aviary their home, each with a special story of why they have become animal ambassadors. Many campers picked up on the familiar stories of hit-by-car and imprint that the Solider’s birds share with Irvine’s birds. However, they enjoyed the larger variety of birds that Soldiers displays. The Vultures and the Crow were among the top favorites!
The field trip to the National Aquarium was the grand hurrah of the camp week. Campers made foot toys for the Hyacinth Macaw, watched Barramundi eat from a care-takers hand, and played with the Dolphins during an enrichment session. The favorite of course was the Dolphin play time! Campers were encouraged to act as silly as they could in order to attract the attention of the Dolphins. Some campers dressed up in costumes, while others bounced balls and spun pinwheels. The Dolphins would swim right up to the glass and watch the ‘crazy’ people. If they really liked what they saw they would blow bubbles and splash water over the edge of the tank to the amusement of the campers!
It’s not too late to sign up a child or grandchild for one of the last weeks of camp. They too can have a blast as they explore, learn, and live nature!