Learning to love the outdoors
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Many of us have experienced the delight of summer camp at some point during our lives—we may have been a camper, camp counsellor or parent (or maybe all three!). Bullfrog Power is thrilled to have Camp Kawartha, located just north of Peterborough, as a member of our bullfrogpowered community.
We recently asked Jacob Rodenburg—who is Executive Director of Camp Kawartha and the Kawartha Outdoor Education Centre—to share his thoughts on what summer camps offer to both young people and the environment.
JR: At Camp Kawartha, we find ways to teach children to love and respect nature, fostering stewardship throughout each stage of their development. Summer is a great time for kids of all ages to spend time outdoors.
Connecting with nature
Camps like Camp Kawartha are connection builders: they connect kids to the outdoors and the environment. From the towering white pines to the hoot of the Great Horned Owl, the camp and its staff help children recognize that the natural world is an integral part of their community.
Being immersed in a close-knit camp also teaches kids about fellowship, caring and commitment. Campers bear witness to community in action and they understand what it truly means to belong.
Perhaps most importantly, camps connect kids to the very best in themselves. We teach kids to strive and try new things—and to conduct themselves with kindness and compassion toward each other and the environment.
Favourite camper activities
We’ve found campers especially enjoy theme days, where staff members organize an entire day’s programming around a particular theme (for example, the game of Risk or Harry Potter). For environmental learning, we weave elements of nature and ecology into these games.
Campers also enjoy our survival game, which takes place in five acres of woods and fields. Campers take on the roles of local animals: they need to hide from danger, and find food, water and shelter. The game fosters appreciation of our local wildlife, and campers gain new insights into the challenges animals face while trying to survive.
Water-based activities such as canoeing, sailing and kayaking are also popular at our camps. Activities like these lay the foundation for a lifelong enjoyment of travelling through the outdoors in a non-intrusive way.
Teaching environmental stewardship
The average child spends more than seven hours a day in front of a glowing screen and less than 20 minutes engaged in active outdoor play. At the same time, there is mounting evidence suggesting that exposure to nature while growing up reduces stress, improves physical and mental health and encourages co-operation, collaboration and self-regulation. Joy Palmer, an environmental researcher, found that regular exposure to nature is the single most important factor in fostering care and concern for the environment in children.
Nurturing stewardship is a proactive undertaking. Camps help children cultivate a sense of wonder and awe for the natural world and provide skills for a lifelong love of the outdoors. Many camps like Camp Kawartha are showcasing sustainable living in action—from creating nature-rich environments to demonstrating alternatives to fossil fuel. They also help youth acquire leadership skills by developing confidence and promoting agency.
Engaged stewards arise when we teach our children to know, love, understand and protect the very land they stand upon.
Camp Kawartha is an accredited, award-winning, not-for-profit organization focused on outdoor environmental awareness, outdoor and environmental education and stewardship. Learn more about Camp Kawartha at campkawartha.com.