As part of its ongoing series of weeklong camps aimed at encouraging youth to explore and appreciate the outdoors, Washington County Community College [WCCC] hosted eight local youths during February break. During the camp, the children were able to ice skate, rock climb, and learn about wildlife and various habitats, even finding the skeleton of a moose at one point.
The camps have been held over the past two years by the college as part of the Adventure Recreation and Tourism program, under the guidance of Program Director Scott Fraser. Senior students from the program plan, organize, and run the camp to fulfill requirements designed to produce experiential learning. The February break camp was conducted by Spencer McCormick and Kari Galdeen. The pair have worked together on previous events and went into this camp with some experience under their belt.
“I really enjoyed working with the kids,” Galdeen shared. “It’s a lot of fun to plan out a program, especially one with the goal being ‘have fun,’ and then seeing the kids’ reactions. Putting together programs is getting easier for me over time, like anything it just takes practice.”
During the first day of the camp, the children utilized the indoor rock climbing wall in the WCCC gym, trying their hands – and feet – at various courses. Afterwards, they worked on team building exercises to begin bonding together. On the second day, campers were accompanied by Colin Brown from the Downeast Lakes Land Trust on a trip to the Moosehorn Wildlife Refuge. Brown engaged the children in a variety of trailside activities, including tracking animals, tree identification, and demonstrating survival techniques that animals utilize in winter. On day three, the group went to Mill Cove in Robbinston, where they explored caves, admired Pulpit Rock, sought out intertidal organisms, engaged in geocaching, picked up trash, and discovered the partial remains of a moose. For the last day of the camp, the children spent most of the day skating on the newly-reclaimed pond on campus, breaking up their skating periodically to eat S’mores. A final activity involved rolling around in human-sized knocker soccer balls in the gym.
Of the many enjoyable activities during the camp, Galdeen and McCormick share that finding the moose and ice skating between S’mores breaks elicited the most enthusiasm from the campers. “The kids were sprinting to the fire pit to make S’mores after lunch time,” said McCormick. “They couldn’t wait to get back on to the pond and continue to ice skate.”
Both of the students shared that the experience contributed to their future desires to work with children. “I like to teach kids valuable lessons, not only technical skills, but to help them work through certain challenges and relate these challenges to everyday life,” McCormick said.