Help your Child Learn Responsibility

By Lonie Lorenz

Animal Summer Camp ? Let your kids play with animals this summer as a part of the fun they can have at summer camp. Find a science camp, or a more broadly defined summer camp that includes animals as a part of their program offerings.

Connecting with animals in a natural setting can put a child at the beginning of a lifelong sense of relationship with nature. A deep respect for nature as an adult often starts with experience as a camper.

At Swift Nature Camp, near Minong, Wisconsin, a unique pond aquarium gives kids a chance to see pond life from a frog's point of view, while our Nature's Neighbors live animal collection provides opportunities for up-close study and care of several common Northwoods residents as well as a few exotic immigrants. Campers with their own small animals are encouraged to bring them to camp to share with others. The animals live in the Nature Center, where all campers can enjoy and learn about them.

Working in conjunction with the Wisconsin DNR and the U.S. Park Service, Swift Nature Camp has also developed a hands-on environmental learning program which includes field trips, such as visits to a fish hatchery and state parks; hands-on field projects, like goose banding and butterfly counts; and exciting camp presentations, including visits with live owls.

Campers are individuals, and Swift Nature Camp has created a voluntary merit program that allows each child to mix skill development and play in ways that suit his or her personality. Experience with animals can be refined into skills in areas like pet care, insects, bird watching and horseback riding.

Today's children grow up too fast and need time to play. The summer camp you are looking for should challenge your child to try new things, but not in a stressful way. Camp is not school! Interaction with animals can be a perfect way for a child to learn by the natural discovery of play. Besides all the fun and excitement of a traditional camp, the kids have the joy of discovering Nature and the world we live in.

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