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Recap of 2010 Wild and Wonderful Summer Youth Camp
Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
July 11-13, 2010

What fun we all had at this three day, action packed environmental education camp. Upon arrival at the Wildlife Center, the kids were amazed at their surroundings and the natural beauty of the camp setting. GCG Chairman Molly Kimler gave all the children and parents a warm welcome, introduced the other counselors and told everyone a bit of what to expect in the next three days ahead. Soon there were hugs and kisses all around, the parents were excused and the first outing began.

Photos from the 2010 camp; click on each for larger view.

Karen Hoydick, our CEWC counselor, took the group on our initial hike to gain our "Eagle Eyes," "Deer Ears," and "Coyote Nose." On this adventure hike, the children hunted for bird feathers. All types of feathers blended in the woods and trail so our campers had to use their "eagle eyes" to find them! It is a great teaching tool to spy things in the woods, which led to a discussion about trash and refuse that too often litter our environment. This series of games, in between hikes, allowed the kids to gain all their animal senses. They learned about endangered species, hiked, and fished, learned about and participated in a stream study and many other GCG related activities.

GCG members were on hand to teach a variety of classes, as well. GCG Youth Clubs Chairman and W&WE Camp Co-Chairman Susan Turner had materials prepared for a class on "container gardening." Each child was given a container and the lesson included discussion on annuals & perennials, proper drainage, soil composition, planting placement and size and proper care of the finished design. All the children were very eager and excited to make their own container garden as their first project.

GCG 3rd Vice-President Suzanne Wheeler, our very knowledgeable Birds and Butterflies Chairman, presented a fascinating program on butterflies. This included attracting butterflies to your home, and their needs of food, water and shelter. Her discussion and slide presentation easily lent itself to "class participation" and the kids eagerly became involved with questions and answers about all types of butterflies. Each child also made a "Monarch caterpillar" on a pencil with pipe cleaners.

A great indoor activity is always the "scavenger hunt" at the CEWC Welcome Center. The campers identified and searched for items on view about Mr. Charlie Elliott, his life and the camp. This building also houses the classroom for the "endangered species" studies held by CEWC's Ranger Pete. Turtles, snakes and a variety of reptiles of all sizes and colors (trust us . . . all sizes!) were available for the kids to see, touch and ask questions to their hearts content. We also had our special time with Mr. Barred Owl during the "Creatures of the Night" program, held before the night hike.

A visit to a waterfall gave way to the "Stream Study." Our campers caught a variety of minnows, small fish and crustaceans. After an interesting lecture on eco-systems, the campers went off prodding in the muck to gather specimens in their trays. The children brought their wet shoes and were able to slide down the rocks and have a great time of it! Fishing off the dock was another popular activity. Catch and release was the word of the day; lots of fish were well fed from our visit. Many children noted they had never fished before!

GCG President Betty Grimes presented a wonderfully received program on basic flower design. Betty's own experience as a Master Flower Show Judge gave the kids a broad perspective of the hows and whys of flower design. She brought with her a beautiful collection of fresh flowers, greenery and a container for each camper. From oasis to design, the campers learned and created the most artistic and lovely designs. They were all Blue Ribbon Winners!

Gordy Morris, Walton County Extension 4-H Assistant and camp counselor, along with Rick Tardif, gave instruction and assistance for each camper to make a Bluebird House. With hammer and nails in hand, the sound was deafening but the results, fantastic! In prior year's tradition, the counselors have a "Bird House Build-off" on the final day. It's a race to see who can construct their birdhouse the fastest with no help from the kids. They all cheer and lend the verbal expertise but no "touching." Susan Tardif was once again this year's winner; two years running will be hard to beat!

We are fortunate that so many members of GCG, Charlie Elliot Wildlife Center and the extended community are so involved with this youth camp project. The CEWC Chapter of the Greater Atlanta Astronomy Club has gathered their equipment for our use and to teach a little star gazing to our campers. Planets and Nebulae can be seen on a clear night over the pristine skies of east Georgia.

Individual members, clubs and districts of GCG have sponsored children to attend camp with monetary donations. This year, almost 75% of the children were sponsored to attend the GCG Wild & Wonderful Experience Camp. We are so thankful to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center for hosting us and providing interesting and exciting programs, as well as educators and facilities to meet the needs for ourselves and our campers. We are grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness in our youth of environmental education in so many areas of study from the Wild & Wonderful Experience Camp. These children gained a wealth of knowledge and the desire for more in a short time. We trust the memories from this camp will inspire and lead each child to discover their own ways to make a difference in our world.

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