Nature’s story-time, a walk through the woods with Generations Group

CAMP LEOPOLD – The bus that arrived the morning of October 14 carried a group of young men who would remain engaged and inquisitive the entire day.

On scholarship from VLS Recovery, boys from Generations Group walked into Chace Lodge eager to absorb every single bit of knowledge the SCWA education staff would provide.

Generations Group is a non-profit based in the Upstate of South Carolina. Its mission “is to prevent sexual abuse by helping neglected and/or at-risk adolescent and pre-adolescent males overcome abusive behaviors.” The young men attending Camp Leopold live at the Generations facility full-time; many will soon be leaving the facility and returning home.

For security reasons, no photos that identified the young men were taken. Instead, the SCWA Communications Director, accompanied the group during their walk through the woods. The goal was to document some of the things a typical group could expect to see during a session at Camp Leopold.  Here are the highlights:

TREES

Obviously. It was a walk through the woods after all. What was interesting wasn’t the fact that trees were around but the perspective the instructors offered when it came to looking at the trees. Unless you live in a place like NYC, you’re probably going to see a tree at some point during the day. What you might not see is the way that tree is interacting with other plants – how it’s fighting for sunlight, providing food for turkeys, or acting as a territory marker for deer. You probably don’t notice the tilt of the branches or the shape of the leaves but those things are important when you’re trying to identify the tree species, or the tree’s health. When you’re surrounded by trees  (eg: a walk in the woods) it’s much more difficult to not notice the unique characteristics of each plant.

SIGNS OF ANIMAL LIFE

It’s possible you’ll see a paw print from your neighbor’s dog on the sidewalk if the ground is wet from rain but when you take a walk through the woods with a Camp Leopold instructor you start to notice signs of animal life. You start to wonder how recently the raccoon walked across the path or why the bird chose that exact tree to build their nest.

MOSS, FUNGI, ETC.

While taking a walk through the woods, things that might be considered gross or annoying on a city sidewalk suddenly tell part of an ongoing story. The growth of fungi on a fallen tree trunk tells you if the soil is remaining moist from recent storms. Mushrooms or plants that require roots in the ground provide nutrition for invasive species such as wild hogs. Spanish Moss, which isn’t actually a moss but a flowering plant, defies what you learned in school about plants needing soil to grow.

A walk through the woods at Camp Leopold is nature’s version of story-time. Instructors and nature are co-storytellers. You might not sit crisscross-applesauce on a multi-colored carpet, but you’re still drawn in by the characters, the plot, and the pictures. No two stories (walks) are ever the same.

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The SCWA Camp Leopold team greatly appreciates the scholarship offering by VLS Recovery. We look forward to Generations Group’s next trip to Camp.

For more information about Camp Leopold, visit www.WildlifeEdCenter.org and like the Camp Leopold Facebook Page, @CampLeopold.

 

 

SCWA staff members attend camp for adults (aka the 2016 Fall Camp Conference)

Recently, our two camp directors attended the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference in Greenville, SC. The conference was hosted by the American Camp Association (ACA) which works as a network of camp professionals to “enrich the lives of children, youth and adults through the camp experience.” (See ACA Mission and Vision)

Joe Gonzalez and Keller Kissam, Jr. of SCWA spent three days at the Embassy Suites Greenville Golf Resort and Conference Center meeting other camp professionals, discussing resolutions to industry challenges, and absorbing ideas for future projects. “It was the good kind of information overload,” Camp Leopold Director, Joe Gonzalez, said about the trip. “I’ve already got one person who said they would send some information over about a project idea.”

Camp Woodie, SCWA’s summer education program, has earned accreditation from the ACA. Camp Leopold, SCWA’s school-year program, is working on earning ACA accreditation now.

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Keller Kissam, Jr. SCWA’s Camp Woodie Director, and Joe Gonzalez, SCWA’s Camp Leopold Director, pause to snap a selfie during the 2016 Southeastern Fall Camp Conference hosted the American Camp Association in Greenville.

Camp for adults in the industry looks a bit different than camp sessions at the Wildlife Education Center (WEC). Here’s how “camp” for adults compares to SCWA education programs.

LOCATION

ACA: If a conference is hosted in a city that is new to you it can be an adventure to travel and explore a new place. If the conference is hosted in the same place year after year, you will probably have some favorite spots. It can also be fun to introduce newcomers to the best places in town.

WEC: Visiting a 410-acre education center means you probably won’t see every inch of the property but you’re sure to have some new adventures. From canoeing to capture the flag, science to shotgun practice, and time under the stars, there is always something fun to do at the WEC.

ACTIVITIES

ACA: Education professionals gather in ballrooms or meeting rooms for seminars, demonstrations, keynote presentations, and discussions. Some sessions will plan team building exercises. Almost all gatherings happen indoors.

WEC: Kids receive instruction about a skill or activity and then practice what they learned in hands-on situations. Campers go canoeing, walk through wetlands, complete an archery course, or try their hand at shooting. Groups gather around campfires for evening snacks, songs, and stories. Almost all gatherings happen outdoors.

FOOD

ACA: Many conferences will provide a few meals throughout the duration of the conference as a way to facilitate networking. These meals are often boxed lunches or sandwich/salad buffets. Since many conferences are held in a city, you will sometimes see conference attendees grabbing a bite to eat or a drink together in the evening.

WEC: A typical day at Camp Woodie or Camp Leopold will include fresh fruit, juice, plenty of water, vegetables, plenty of protein (our jumbo chicken tenders are a big hit!), maybe a sweet treat, and some type of grain/carbohydrate (french toast sticks are well liked for breakfast…yum!) Students who attend Camp Leopold often want to take the kitchen staff back to their school with them.

 

 

LEARNING

ACA: Seminars, discussion panels, and networking events might not sound like fun when compared to summer camp or school field trips but for camp professionals they can be a chance to expand knowledge, inspire creativity, and explore challenging ideas. Professionals often return from conferences energized and renewed.

WEC: Campers are always learning something while at the WEC. Even during transition times, kids are learning about nature and life. Campers often have the opportunity to obtain special certifications, learn from industry experts, and master a new skill.

FRIENDSHIP

ACA: Conferences are all about discussion, education, and networking. Camp professionals will have numerous chances to speak with experts in the field, meet staff members from other camps, and exchange ideas and business cards. You might just meet a future employee, consultant, business partner, or boss.

WEC: Summer campers often leave having made friends from other towns and will become pen-pals until the next summer. Some even grow up to be college roommates! School-year campers leave knowing more about their classmates’ interests. They might bond over their new love for the outdoors or decide to work together on their next science project.

While the settings, meals, and clientele differ, the mission of a conference and the mission of a camp for kids is pretty similar. Both experiences help people grow, learn new things, and meet new people. SCWA team members enjoyed their time in Greenville, S.C. but are happy to be back at the WEC and continue working toward the next camp program achievement.

Read about Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold’s recent attendance records in our blog post from August titled: Camp Woodie and Camp Leopold setting new records.

PalmettoPride and Camp Leopold team up to teach kids about litter

Columbia, SC – PalmettoPride, South Carolina’s anti-litter organization, and Camp Leopold, South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s (SCWA) Environmental Education Program, have teamed up to teach children about the effects of litter in our environment.

Camp Leopold engages students grades three through seven in hands-on learning on a 410-acre outdoor classroom adjacent to Lake Marion. Participating schools choose from environmental subjects such as agriculture, ecosystems, STEM education, human impact and team work. The curriculum meets state education standards and is taught by wildlife and biologist specialists.

PalmettoPride - Camp Leopold - SCWA Partnership Announcement

PalmettoPride has sponsored the Human Impact class for the 2016-2017 school year. This partnership affords PalmettoPride a unique opportunity to teach children via video presentation about the effects of litter in our natural areas as well as encourage children to take their newfound knowledge back into their home communities.

Leopold Logo for Vector.png“With schools being more and more challenged to excel at testing, environmental education activities typically come from passionate teachers,” said Sarah Lyles, Executive Director for PalmettoPride. “Having a captive and engaged audience is priceless when it comes to changing mindsets and social habits.”

“We’re excited to partner with PalmettoPride, another South Carolina non-profit, as we help educate the next generation,” said Ed Paul, Director of Education Program Sales & Marketing for SCWA. PalmettoPride Logo

Camp Leopold expects to introduce at least 7,000 students to outdoor education and PalmettoPride’s mission this school year during camp orientation.

For more information on Camp Leopold or to book a field trip, contact Camp Leopold Director Joe Gonzalez via email: joe@scwa.org.

Camp Leopold kicks off 2016 – 2017 school year

Camp Leopold kicks off 2016 – 2017 school year

School is back in session which can only mean one thing… Camp Leopold is back in full swing!
Last week, we had our first Camp Leopold session of the school year. Students from numerous schools across the state visited for the day as part of a collaborative event with the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA). Thursday was also the first session for our two newest instructors, Tom and Laura. They did such a great job that students and chaperones were surprised to learn it was their first session. (kudos to them!)
It was hot and humid. What else can you expect during August in South Carolina? Despite the heat, students had a blast learning about agriculture and wildlife management, human impact on our natural resources, and team building on our challenge course. We look forward to these schools coming back in the future!
The session was made possible with support from South Carolina Farm Bureau. Corporate sponsors and chapter fundraising events play a large role in the success of our education programs. As always, we appreciate their support.
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SCISA students participate in team challenge course exercises during their Camp Leopold session. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

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Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

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SCISA students and chaperones participate in team challenge course exercises during their Camp Leopold session. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold staff.

SCISA students look out over a waterfowl impoundment from the WEC observation deck. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

SCISA students look out over a waterfowl impoundment from the Wildlife Education Center observation deck. Photo by Laura Evans/Camp Leopold Staff

Camp Leopold is the South Carolina Waterfowl Association’s school-year education program. Our mission is to, “Create an ecologically literate citizenry by heightening student awareness of the natural world, fine-tuning the skills necessary to read the landscape, and instilling a love, respect, and admiration for the land so that each individual might develop a personal land ethic.”

Want your school to have a fun and meaningful outdoor experience that meets South Carolina school standards ? Contact Camp Leopold Director Joe Gonzalez at joe@scwa.org.