Garden and Naturalist Camps Set to Educate at Wittenbach Wege Center

School may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean opportunities to learn through Lowell Area Schools (LAS) comes to a halt over summer vacation.  Two summer camps are scheduled to start at the Wittenbach Wege Center (WWC). Junior Master Naturalists (JMN) is for students entering 2nd through 8th grade in the fall.  Junior Master Gardeners (JMG) is a camp for older kids going into 5th through 8th grades. Meeting weekly for a full day either six or eight weeks in duration, campers will learn about nature, how they can help protect and create natural space, and be outdoors.  

The History of Camps
Families with students attending LAS are familiar with WWC.  Field trips start in preschool and continue into elementary school.  Each year a new aspect is taught during a school field trip and some grades take multiple trips to the center during the school year.  It’s a great place to learn about nature and conservancy during any season of the year. The public is welcome to come and enjoy the trails and programming offered throughout the year as well.  

JMG started in 2010 “and we’ve been growing good kids ever since” according to Courtney Cheers, Director of WWC.  With the gardening program for older students becoming a success, JMN began in 2016, offering another program with a different focus.  “These camps are a super cool way to engage with outdoors and get some hands on learning opportunities. We get our fingers and toes in the soil and the water and feel the sun on our face!” says Cheers of the camps.  

Campers also take on a stewardship project during camp, giving them leadership skills when it comes to taking care of and respecting Mother Nature.  Both camps are divided into two groups – one for younger or entry-level students, and one for older students.

Junior Master Gardener
Students entering 4th, 5th, and 6th grade in the fall are invited to Level 1 gardener camp.  The Advanced group is for those starting 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade in August, with a preference of having completed Level 1 in a previous year.  The first two weeks of camp are held from 4pm-6pm. During this time, students will get to know each other, camp leaders, have a planting frenzy, and become familiar with gardens at the center.  This will set the stage for the remaining six weeks.

In the following weeks, campers will learn about topics including pollination and soils.  During a field trip to Michigan State University, students will visit a 4-H gardens, an organic farm, and dairy store, which will help prepare them for selling their own harvested products at the Lowell Farmers’ Market on July 26.  Food harvested by campers will also be donated to Flat River Outreach Ministries’ Food Pantry. An overall look from seed to shelf will give students an appreciation for where their food comes from, the work involved, and the ability to give back to the community, with the importance of keeping land conservancy in mind.  

JMG Important Info
Who: Level 1 for those going into 4th, 5th, or 6th grade
           Advanced for those going into 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th grade, preferably who have completed Level 1 in the past
When: May 31, June 7, 14, 21, 28 and July 12, 19, and 26 (no camp the week of July 4)
Time: May 31 and June 7 from 4pm-6pm, all other weeks from 9am-3pm (students bring a sack lunch)
Cost: $175 for the 8 week camp
Registration deadline: May 25

Junior Master Naturalist
In its third year, JMN teaches students about a different nature theme each year.  This year the topic is trees. The Acorn group will consist of kids going into 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade in August.  Students entering 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade are part of the Oak group. The first week of camp, students will get to know each other, camp teachers, and types of trees.  From there, detailed exploration of tree will be covered in the remaining weeks.

Both groups will learn about the life cycle of a tree, how trees adapt to their environment, and how trees provide habitats for animals.  Two field trips are planned – one to the Saul Lake Bog and one to Hoffmaster State Park – to explore trees in different locations. Campers will learn tools for help them explore the outdoors and appreciate nature, while discovering the importance of taking care of the world around them.  

JMN Important Info
Who: Acorns – those going into 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade
           Oaks – those going into 5th, 6th, 7th, or 8th grade
When: June 14, 21, 28 and July 12, 19, and 26 (no camp the week of July 4)
Time: From 9am-3pm (students bring a sack lunch)
Cost: $150 for the 6 week camp
Registration deadline: June 8

Wittenbach Wege Center Camps – Fun and Educational
Camp space is limited, so register now to reserve a spot.  Each group is limited to 15 students. A minimum of 5 students are needed in a group.  Typically 20 campers take place in JMG and 30 in JMN each year. Cheers along with other WWC Naturalists lead these camps.  They are all employees of Lowell Area Schools. Proper background checks have been done to ensure they are qualified to lead children.  High school and adult volunteers are welcome to assist camp leaders. Courtney Cheers can be contacted via email to inquire about volunteer opportunities.  The weekly camp is such that any family taking vacation time during the summer can plan around one day during the week or only have to miss one week of camp.  

Cheers, along with those who will lead these two programs, are eager to meet this year’s campers.  “We learn A LOT along the way.” she says. “Stewardship and leadership are also big parts of our camps.  These kids take on a stewardship project during camp and leave their mark and that helps us foster our next generation of conservationists.”  Camps at WWC are both educational and fun for everyone involved.

To register, fill out a form and drop it off at the center or mail it along with your payment.  We have uploaded PDF format information fliers about Junior Master Gardener and Junior Master Naturalist camps as well.  

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