Originally written April 29, 2018
When we think of summer holidays, fondest childhood memories often centre on getting a chance to be in the great outdoors with other kids, playing and hiking and having campfires and doing all the great things that come from summer camp. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere Nature Camp sessions at Landon Bay give modern children the chance to share in that experience while picking up some great educational features along the way. Operated by volunteers with a mandate (the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Foundation and its predecessor The Barbara Heck Foundation), the Nature Camp will be celebrating its 15th season.
“We are very proud of our camp as it allows kids to discover and connect with nature, a skill that is very much lacking in today’s youth,” said Dion Running, teacher at Thousand Islands Elementary School. “I volunteer with John Macleod to run the Nature Camp at Landon Bay. We want to share the exciting news that the camps are expanding and not just shifting as Parks Canada is currently re-developing Landon Bay – a re-development that the Nature Camp will be involved in.”
Located at Landon Bay, a 225 acre property located on the Thousand islands Parkway, 7 km east of Gananoque, camp runs through July and August, and each 5-day session has a different theme, allowing students to attend more than once throughout the summer while continuously having new experiences and learning new things. This year they will have the opportunity to enjoy Magnificent Mammals (Week 1, July 2- 6); Roots and Shoots (Week 2, July 9-13); Creepy Crawlies (Week 3, July 16-20); Time Traveler (Week 4, July 23-27); Bird Brain (Week 5, July 30-Aug 3); Prehistoric Planet (Week 6, Aug 6-10); Cold Blooded (Week 7, Aug 13-17) and Earthly Extremes (Week 8, Aug 20-24).
“Children will have fun while learning to enjoy and appreciate the outdoor environment,” said John MacLeod. “Love for the outdoors will develop while learning about the weekly themes – mammals, plants, birds, etc. – and their relationships with each other and their environment. They will experience group activities, crafts, daily hikes on the trails at Landon Bay, guest presenters and games. They also enjoy a daily swim in the pool under the supervision of qualified Life Guards.”
Campers should wear common sense outdoor clothing related to the weather of the day. It should include a hat, sunscreen and repellant with additional items as needed. The camp continues to operate in inclement weather, so they need to make sure they have rubber boots and some kind of water repellant jacket. Suitable footwear should be worn at all times, and avoid open toed shoes or sandals as they do not protect the foot against possible injuries. Staff will make every effort to accommodate the needs of a child, but the camp reserves the right to have the child withdrawn from the program should his/her behaviour cause harm to themselves, other participants, staff or property.
“The counsellors are adults, usually with a degree in Education or some related field,” said MacLeod. “The swim portion of our program is supervised by the Lifeguards of the municipal swim program. In addition to the three adult counsellors, at least two Junior Counsellors (former campers) assist with things like escorting the child to/from the swim program to the Nature Camp. We maintain a ratio of a maximum of 10 campers to 1 counsellor with several Junior Counsellors (former campers) present to assist.”
“Children connected with nature are happier, healthier and learning,” said Dr. Paula Stewart, Medical Officer of Health, Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit. “Outdoor nature play improves mood, self-esteem, cooperation and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Nature play improves how kids’ bodies develop and grow. They become stronger and more coordinated, have better balance, and are more active. Adventurous nature play allows kids to be more creative, learn to solve problems and manage risk. They have better focus and attention, so they are better learners at school. Getting outside and playing reduces screen time (computer, television, phone). The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve natural balance. ”
Campers usually have a chance to enjoy a “sleep over” during the eighth week, an activity that is open to all who attend. They get a chance to laugh and play with each other, while sharing the memories they have made throughout the summer.
Cost of the program is $150 per week, and registration has already started for this year. To learn more or to enrol your child, please go to http://fabnaturecamp.weebly.com/ and download the form. The completed documents can be mailed to Box 483, Gananoque, ON K7G 2V1 or left at Pharmasave in Gananoque or Lansdowne.