MIAMI COUNTY — Students grades K-5 became junior naturalists this week at Brukner Nature Center, as its first camp program of the summer ran Monday through Friday.
The five-day program, entitled “Call of the Wild,” brought participating campers into the worlds of various wildlife professionals, exploring herpetologist studies with reptiles and amphibians, ornithologist studies with birds, and other careers oriented around wildlife preservation and outdoor exploration.
“We do all kinds of different activities,” said wildlife educator and camp leader Brian Ayres. “The kids interact with lots of live animals. We take them on lots of hikes through the preserve. Today, the kids went out to the creek with nets, and looked for invertebrates and salamanders. We keep them busy all day long doing fun activities.”
Summer camp programs have become a mainstay for Brukner Nature Center, mainly due to participant availability when school is out.
“I’ve been here nine years and we’ve done it every year,” Ayres said. “It’s great, because in general, we’re able to get them outside more, since we have them for longer portions of the day. When we only have kids for two hours or less, we can’t always get through to them as much.”
The center’s next camp, entitled, “Wild about Wildlife,” is scheduled to run July 9-13, and is currently maxed out for student registration. According to Ayres, demand for camp programs has only increased each summer, which has allowed Brukner to continue expanding its programs.
“Every camp we do usually ends up full,” Ayres said. “We’ve upped it in recent years from 30 to 45 students, and that’s kind of the max we can do while still fitting everything into our schedule.”
“I think it’s just a great way for everyone to get together and have fun,” said wildlife educator Elaine Bolte. “We try to do both indoor and outdoor activities, and I know the kids always learn a lot.”
“I think one of our overarching goals always is to get kids outside and get them comfortable outside,” Executive Director Deb Oexmann said. “Doing it in a camp setting where there’s lots of games, crafts, and hands-on activities helps with that. Hopefully, they’re taught some things that they can do on their own once they go home.”
Brukner Nature Center, open to the public since 1974, is a privately funded, non-profit organization promoting the appreciation and understanding of wildlife conservation through preservation, education, and rehabilitation.
For more information on Brukner events, visit www.bruknernaturecenter.com.