Bolsa Chica Conservancy invites kids to get to know Huntington Beach’s wetlands for summer explorer’s program
The Bolsa Chica Conservancy’s annual Wetland Explorers Program invites youth to learn about the ecology of a unique habitat this summer in hopes of inspiring them to become lifelong stewards of the environment.
The five-day educational summer camp hosts one session beginning June 26 for children who would be entering kindergarten through third grade this fall, and another for kids going into fourth through seventh grades that kicks off on July 10.
Participants will learn about the plants and animals that coexist in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, mingle with students from other schools, craft conservation-themed keepsakes and traverse every path winding through the 1,400-acre conservancy, said Whitney Thompson, the nonprofit’s senior education program coordinator.
“Having the opportunity to do a weeklong program where they’re outdoors, largely away from technology, it kind of broadens their worldview about what’s out there and what they can do about it,” Thompson said. “We’ve got a number of endangered plants and animals that live out here in Bolsa Chica, and they learn to appreciate what we’ve got and how to protect what we still have.”
The program’s curriculum aligns with state standards and augments what children would be taught in the classroom with hands-on experience, Thompson said. It also encourages public speaking and working in groups.
Each day at camp is scheduled for about seven hours. That time is divided between classroom instruction and field learning.
“We spend about half the day outside and half the day inside,” Thompson said. “We’re very in and out, in and out. That way we’re not dying under the summer sun but were also not trapped inside.”
Students will learn about wetlands and other habitats, the plants and animals that live there as well as the adaptations they have developed over time to survive in their respective environments. One day midway through the program is specifically dedicated to learning about the ocean.
“Finally, on day five, we take all that we’ve learned about wetlands and focus on how we can give back, how is it all connected as a community for us who live in cities and homes and apartments,” Thompson said.
The material is presented in an immersive, age-appropriate manner. The goal for instructors is to “open students up to hands on scientific learning,” Thompson said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in the environmental field even if they never want to become a scientist,” Thompson said. “So, it kind of opens the door, shows them, ‘Hey there’s all this cool stuff you could be doing if you were interested in it.’”
The program is open to any youth whose family is willing to commute to and from the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Thompson said. They have had students drive in from Riverside or come down from northern California to attend the camp while visiting relatives.
Spots cost $325 per student. About five were open for the session in June and 10 for the one for older students in July as of Wednesday, Thompson said.
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