Green Dragon Summer Camp 2011

Blomidon Naturalists Society Young Naturalist Program 2011

We, Naomi Crisp and Sarah Vezina, had an absolutely wonderful summer working for the Green Dragon Nature Camp. You could not ask for a better job, working outside in this beautiful area we live in and sharing the experience with children. Living in the Annapolis Valley and seeing the scenery that we do every day it is easy to take it for granted, so we would like to thank the Blomidon Naturalists Society for providing such an important service in reminding us (camp leaders) and the children how amazing this land is. We offered 4 different sites to take the groups which included Smileys Provincial Park, Penny’s and Blue Beach, the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens and Acadia Science Buildings, and Blomidon Provincial Park. Over the course of the summer we took six different summer camps from around the Valley to these exciting sites: New Minas Children’s Centre, New Minas Recreation, Wolfville Recreation, Kentville Recreation, Aldershot Recreation, and Apple Tree Landing in Canning.

Our first site, Smileys Provincial Park, is located just past Windsor, hidden behind some fields and back roads. We would start the day by walking down the river sharing how full of life it is and why/what happens when a river meanders. Then at the end of our walk we would use our nets and buckets to catch minnows, water skippers, frogs, beetles, water snakes, and other fascinating creatures. The kids absolutely loved sharing their finds and the cool facts they learnt about them. All this activity called for some well needed lunch and a break on the grass, but then it was soon time to go again. We would then spend the rest of the afternoon exploring a hollow pine tree, which the children could search for Porcupine quills (often leaving with at least one each) and going to the Beaver Dam. The Beaver Dam was always a hit as the kids could swim and learn cool facts about the beaver and its home. There was a great opportunity to discuss the power of the weather as there were many fallen trees in the river; the kids were incredibly impressed that storms could be so strong.

Tuesdays were spent in Wolfville at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens, Acadia Biology Building, and Acadia Science Building. We split the groups in two and spent the morning at the Biology Museum and the Geology Museum. Fred Scott, a professor at Acadia would take a group of kids to the Biology Museum where he would show the kids how they prep and stuff animals for research purposes. This led to many eager questions and a lot of excited chatter between the children. While one group was with Fred the other would be taken up to the third floor of the Huggins Science Building where we would look and learn about all the different rocks and how special they all are. There is the world’s oldest rock held there and also a few meteorites which some lucky kids were able to hold; this obviously was amazing to all the children. We even had one boy state that he wanted to live there as he loved it so much. We would then go back to the gardens to have our lunch on the grass under the shade. Once we were all full and ready to go the gardeners of the K.C. Irving Centre would give us a very interactive tour in which the kids got to use all their senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound) to learn about the native plants of the Acadian Forest Region and the different habitats within it. After this fun and factual tour it was time to go home and get ready for our next day of exploration.

Along Bluff Road in Avon Port is Penny’s Beach, where we started our Blue Beach day. We spent the morning walking along the red sand searching for, shells, crabs, and cool rocks. As we made our way down the beach we would take the opportunity to talk about tides and see how far they go out and where the water would be if it was in. We would spend a few minutes looking at the small lighthouse at the top of the cliff before making our way to Blue Beach. Chris Mansky, the owner of an incredible fossil museum, was always ready to start our fossil exploration with a detailed and fun explanation of how they were formed and what Blue Beach had looked like 350 million years ago. After hearing this talk, the kids were eager to search for their own fossils down on the beach, which we did until the end of the day. No one went home empty-handed; in fact we had to enforce a rule that everyone can only take 3 fossils the size of their hand home, otherwise we would end up taking the whole beach with us.

On our final day of the week we went to Blomidon Provincial Park, starting at the picnic grounds at the top of the park, where we played a few games and used the only flushing toilets in the park. We would then make our way to the trail talking about the different senses and what they could hear, see, feel, and smell. We would then start our way down the trail, learning about plants and nature trails themselves. The kids loved to stop at the lookoff where they could see where they would end up at the end of the day. At the end of the trail we would enjoy eating lunch on the grass with a view of the ocean. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the beach, where the kids waded in the ocean searching for shells, mermaid purses, and crabs or enjoyed the waterfall’s chilly stream. Here, they loved building dams and investigating the brook’s course as well as checking out small caves along the beach. The Blomidon day is always a favourite as it is relaxed and generally a fun day for exploring.

Overall, it has been a great summer, full of new experiences and memories. We feel it was a great opportunity for the kids to truly see the world they live in and really appreciate the great outdoors. The Perry Rand bus driver, John, was very helpful and patient with the kids and Woods Limo were also a great addition to our service providers. This whole summer wouldn’t be possible without the support and commitment from the Blomidon Naturalists Society. We hope the children have learnt new and exciting facts about where they live and now have a greater appreciation for the Annapolis Valley.

Naomi Crisp