By Chris Lim
Summer camp… full of warm, summer days amongst trees, mountains and, in this case, family. The Watershed Project recently sent its education team to Family Camp to stay in cabins in the woods, eat meals in a rustic mess hall, and teach families about their connection to the watershed.
Family Camp is a program of Youth Enrichment Strategies (YES) that serves families from Richmond, CA. Families enjoy a weekend at Camp Loma Mar in the foothills of Pescadero, a small coastal town south of Half Moon Bay. This year’s theme for the camp was “water” and YES asked us to provide our programming to almost 200 adults and young people over two separate weekends.
We were honored to participate and share our passion for watershed education. It was especially meaningful to speak with Richmond parents, an audience we don’t typically have the chance to address with our hands-on classroom activities. The connection went both ways; the families also gained the ability to connect with us, a local environmental nonprofit.
The full day in the woods began with the quintessential camp breakfast, pancakes and bacon. From there, the families ventured off to partake in the day’s activities. Our objective for the day was to show families that the daily environmental choices we make play a major role in the health of our watershed and community.
We assembled into small groups and began our program with “Watershed in Your Hand,” an activity that illustrates the concept of how rainfall in a watershed collects in a common area. Then “Trash Timeline” got the kids moving around and participating in an activity that demonstrates how long it takes household items, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, glass bottles and Styrofoam, to biodegrade if left as litter on the street (in case you’re wondering, it takes 10-20 years, 450 years, 500 years and “never,” respectively). The final activity was our “Bug Safari” in the creek. The families, armed with boots, nets, trays and magnifying viewers, embarked on an outdoor expedition to find macroinvertebrates. The creek soon swelled with boots, yells of excitement, and trays jammed with critters.
Overall, it was a day bursting with connections: nonprofit to nonprofit, family to family, person to person, people to their environment. Family Camp is a wonderful program that connects urban families to the natural world around them. We were delighted to be a part of Family Camp and we look forward to the next opportunity we have to connect with local families.