Here at Moore Farms Botanical Garden, we have just finished three weeks of summer camp! We had a great experience with each of the different groups of campers, from the inquisitive Garden Explorers (ages 8-10) to the rambunctious Garden Detectives (ages 5-7) to the wise and mature Culinary Campers (ages 11-14). Whether we were investigating the vegetable garden, tie-dying t-shirts, or doing a new arts and crafts project, we had a great time each week.
We started off the first week of camp with the Garden Explorers group. This group balanced outdoor exploration activities with indoor projects. I think my favorite day was pollinator day, when we learned all about the helpful little insects that pollinate our crops. We went into the garden to see the world through a bug’s eyes with special color lenses and then went inside to learn all about honey bees! The kids had so many great questions, such as “How do you tell a queen bee from the other bees?” and “How long do bees live?” And I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as cute as Hampton in the beekeeping outfit.
Other notable activities for our Garden Explorers included catch-and-release fishing in one of our garden ponds (around 20 fish were caught!), making concrete sycamore leaves, putt-putt golf, and even a field trip to Lynches River. The kids got to see and pet all sorts of reptiles including a corn snake, a box turtle, and a baby American alligator! Although this wasn’t our culinary camp, with did venture into the world of cooking by baking apple crumble in homemade solar ovens, making pizza for lunch, and brewing sun tea. Meanwhile, in our free time, we all became experts at Uno and Bop-It.
Our second week was Garden Detectives, a group of bright-eyed and ready for action 5-7 year olds. We started off making colorful tie-dye camp shirts, temporarily dying a few fingers in the process, and learning all about the wriggly worms that help enrich our garden soil. On Tuesday, we took a field trip to Lynches River to see how the little alligator and all the rest of the reptile gang was doing. There we learned why snakes are important, why turtles cannot leave their shells, and how big an alligator can grow. Back at the garden, we planted sunflower seeds, made bug hotels, played the habitat games, and learned all about beekeeping from Ms. Katie. We also trekked out to the vegetable to pick our own produce! One particularly popular activity was making bug suckers so we could look at insects we caught in the garden up close. Of course, we also left plenty of free time to play soccer, football, and hula hoop.
For our final week of summer camp, we welcomed the Culinary Campers! This week was all about learning the basics of cooking – chopping skills and safety, measuring, herbs and spices, salad dressings – and building confidence in the kitchen. We started out simple by making a big vegetable stew, and then added more recipes each day. We made biscuits, savory pancakes, tortillas, frittatas, smashed potatoes, and French toast. This group ventured into the garden to collect herbs and vegetables and to the Lake City Farmer’s Market to buy some locally grown produce.
The camp culminated with a big dinner on Friday that the campers prepared for their families and for some of the Moore Farms staff. We had a main dish of loaded potato soup with side dishes of biscuit muffins with homemade butter, salad with fresh vegetables and homemade ranch dressing, and two desserts, rocky road brownies and mixed berry pie. It was an impressive meal and I’m very proud of all the campers for being so dedicated and enthusiastic.
A big thanks to all of our campers for making these weeks a success. We hope you had as much fun as we did! For more pictures of our summer camps, please visit the Moore Farms Botanical Garden Facebook page. If your child will be in any of the camp age ranges, we would love to see them at the garden next June!
Until next time,
Education Intern, 2017