By Brittney Gonzalez, ENC Communications Intern
Last year, I remember attending spring break camp from the canopy of trees that grow here at the ENC. There were many children playing and making new friends, while they crafted masterpieces and enjoyed the spring flowers. They observed the ants and beetles making their way through the vast hills and valleys of soil, back to their homes with food for their insect families, and enjoyed the creek that flows along the hiking trail. Everyday, the children did something different. One day they learned about the trees and the plants, and the next day they learned about the bugs that pollinate the flowers – even the oak tassels (oak tree flowers) that turn into acorns, my favorite food. There are even cool games they played that I wish I could’ve played too!
I would play as close as I could, hopping from tree to tree, or bounding through the bushes and brush along the line of young hikers. I even made a friend in the trees! I found Sandy the Squirrel, who was attending her very first spring break camp last year. We ran into each other while capering above the spring break campers. Since I had been attending for a few years, I explained what all the children get to do, and how we could play together, just like all the other children. I’m sooo happy I got the chance to make friends with Sandy, because now we get to see each other every spring break camp and have tons of fun sprinting and springing through the landscape.
The best part about spring break camp, are all of the great impacts it has on developing children. They get to use their imaginations while pretending to be in a magical forest and they get to use problem-solving skills when working to figure out whose turn it is to lead the group through the trail. There are other skills like leadership, social communication, learning boundaries and limits, sensory integration and even math that they will be able to put to practice in the real world. All of these great skills are practiced here at the ENC without the children even realizing it, and with supervision from our naturalist teachers. And best of all is the love they develop for wild open spaces like the ENC. Sandy and I know that – when the campers grow up – they will work hard to protect places like the ENC that squirrels and other wild creatures call home.