SPREE understands that it can be hard to view nature up close, but it does not have to be! During camp Monday, we learned some skills and tips to help campers find success in observing nature. It was a fun day and by the end, campers were asked to decode a hidden message that had been hiding out in HQ all day!
We started the day by listing ways that humans could maybe go unnoticed in nature. One way that you can go undetected by animals is through the use of camouflage. What better way to camouflage than to make cool nature masks? Campers used materials from nature to create unique pieces of functional art! We then tested the effectiveness of our masks by playing several rounds of the game “Camouflage!” If you have never played this game, it is a great version of hide and seek. And it is a game that practices both camouflage skills as well as observation skills.
The second activity of the day focused around being sneaky in nature, and we created a nature journal as a tool to keep track of any nature we do see to help us remember! After constructing our journals, we look them outside to record some observations. Campers created blind sound maps in their journals. These sound maps were drawn completely blindfolded, they were pretty funny to look at, but campers also recorded some pretty great sound observations that they may have otherwise ignored with their eyes open. Campers also learned that sit spots- eyes open or closed, are a tool to blend in with nature. When you sit quietly in a spot for a while, you eventually blend in with the environment, and wildlife will feel more comfortable being in your presence! Campers then took their newly learned listening skills to play a game called “Owl & Mouse”. While owls can see in the dark, they rely on their ears when hunting as well. Owls have great hearing!
The third activity of our day was a critter crawl. Yes, we got into the River in January! Before going out to find critters in the River, campers first learned the phrase “the more you look, the more you see”. We learned that sometimes nature is around you, you just need to take a closer look. It is also important to remember that even the tiniest creatures in our City are still part of nature. Wild enough, we found lots of critters in the South Platte on the temperate January day! While we did find 4 crawdads, many of the macroinvertebrates we found during critter crawl were very small- mayflies, small leeches, sow bugs, etc. The water was cold, so we got out a little early, and had time to sketch some of our finds in our nature journals. It was really impressive to see the detail in campers’ sketches of the small critters in our river!
We wrapped up the day with a challenge! Chompers hid a message in SPREE HQ. Campers had to use the observation skills they practiced throughout the day to find and decode the message. It turns out that Chomper’s color coded stickers next to letters hidden throughout the camp room! The campers found all the letters and unscramble the words “OKAY” and “NO WAY”. We then went outside to the the game “Okay, No way!” where campers had to answer nature etiquette questions while hopping towards a finish line. It was no surprise that we could not stump the campers.
We hope that our campers will be able to take the skills they learned out on their next South Platte River adventure to see the many creatures our city and state have to offer!