The Ventana Wildlife Society Natural Science Discovery Camp consists of week long day camps, with one over-night camp out. The camp is for 8-12 year olds, with certain weeks open to the public each summer (some scholarships are available). Four weeks are reserved for our community partners to attend free of charge. These camps provide opportunity for youth who would typically not have the chance to go to a summer camp. Our seasonal instructors and full-time Education Coordinator work hard to make each week safe, educational and memorable. All staff is certified in CPR and First Aid, and those driving youth in passenger vans must first obtain a California class B commercial driver’s license – which entails passing DMV written exams and driving / skill tests. Below are descriptions of the three weeks we currently offer.
"Hooray for Habitats" Through this adventure, campers are introduced to the wide range of habitats along the central California coast, the organisms that depend on them and how we as humans influence and impact them. Campers identify a variety of habitats and the organisms that can be found in each. A river romp reveals water scorpions, water boatmen, diving beetles, snails, small fish, giant water bugs, crayfish, caddis fly larvae and more. While kayaking and tide pooling, campers observe starfish, sea anemones, harbor seals, sea otters, fat innkeeper worms, crabs and a variety of birds. Other areas that we explore include redwood, meadow, riparian, and chaparral habitats.
"Outrageous Ocean Odyssey" This exciting week gives youth the opportunity to explore different environments within the ocean including tide pools, slough, sandy beach, rocky coastline, and the open ocean. Campers visit Moss Landing to learn about some of the incredible research that occurs in The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We look at the sandy shoreline and rocky tide pools, discovering starfish, limpets, crabs, barnacles, sponges, and more. During a whale watch on the bay, youth get up close and personal with a variety of marine mammals, as well as numerous pelicans, cormorants, and gulls.
"Mountains Rock!" With a focus on the landscape and geology, this week takes campers from the breezy, rocky shore to warm canyon and beyond. Campers follow the watershed from river to peak, and back down to ocean. Youth compare aquatic invertebrates and the adaptations they have made to their underwater landscape. Steelhead fry, fresh-water snails, and crayfish may be found beneath the rocks of a river, while blenny eels, periwinkles, crabs can be seen along the rocky shore. Other activities may include compass and map use, the rock cycle, ‘quick sand’ and earthquakes. Who knew rocks could be so exciting!
Each week includes a Thursday night camp out at Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur. Many of our campers have never spent a night outside, and there is always much excitement and anticipation. Campers prepare their sleeping areas before devouring a pasta dinner with salad and bread. After dinner clean-up, campers gather for s'mores before heading out on a night hike. Talking in hushed whispers or often walking in silence, campers listen to night sounds and gaze at the sky. Following a lesson on nocturnal animals and their adaptations, campers are encouraged to embark on a solo hike for a short distance back to camp. Most youth enjoy the challenge on their own, some in pairs. At the end, everyone quietly and excitedly talks about his or her experience with staff and peers while preparing for bed. Some campers choose to sleep in tents while others fall asleep under the open sky.
After a fruit and pancake breakfast, the morning usually flies by with packing-up, a short hike and activity, and closing circle for the week. Campers receive tee shirts and share their most and least favorite parts of the week. Very often, campers report no low moments except that they did not want to leave because they had had so much fun! Many report "firsts" -- first camp out, first s'mores, first time visiting the ocean, first time swimming in a river.
Natural Science Discovery Camp brings an awareness of the environment to participants, their connection to it, and what they can do to help protect it -- through hands-on experiential activities. Children returning from previous years give us faith that camp can provide a life-changing and meaningful experience. Our vision is that that the children we host over the summer become stewards for the environment, develop a sense of self and remember their time with us always.
For more information, or to sign up Call 831-455-9514, or email Alena Porte