Almost 200 children were able to enjoy the great outdoors while getting exercise and learning about nature and the environment this summer.
For 10 years, the Corduroy Brook Enhancement Association (CBEA) has been offering fun-filled camps for children.
"The association is so pleased to see how the nature camp program has grown over the years,” said Executive Director Barry Manuel. “We’ve gone from having 30-40 kids register to almost 200.”
From July 2 to Aug. 24, children between the ages of four and 10 had an opportunity to learn about nature, get out and enjoy the great outdoors, and be provided with physical activity during the Corduroy Brook Children’s Nature Camp Program.
Up to 30 children registered each week, for a total of 187 throughout the summer.
This year a new camp was offered for children aged 10-14, with activities created specifically for the older campers, including special guest appearances.
The pilot camp had 11 participants, and is something the CBEA hopes to build on in the future, as it is an opportunity to engage more children and to partake in some more advanced activities, according to Manuel.
“We have plans to expand the program further in the future and we look forward to continuing to offer the camps to the kids in the area,” Manuel said.
This year they were able to hire six camp counselors to organize and run the camps, which included hikes around the trail where they learned about the importance of wetlands for animal habitat and filtering water, beaver lodges, bird and insect activity, area of forest fire regeneration, along with man-made items to enhance and maintain the trail.
They also play games such as Caterpillar Race, Beaver Tag, Hug-A-Tree and scavenger hunts - all teach important lessons in nature and the environment while having fun.
Gibson’s Field is the hub of the camp, and the hut provides shelter and a place for the many outdoor-themed crafts participants get to do.
Registration for the week is $50, and the association strives to keep the camp affordable to all so that no child is excluded, according to Manuel.
Along with registration, financial contributions from government, corporate, business and organizational partners are crucial, allowing the association to hire enough counsellors to properly staff the program, Manuel said.
The Exploits Valley Animal Hospital has been a financial supporter for six years, and Nalcor Energy and the local Kiwanis Club have both contributed the past two years.
New this year was funding from the Provincial Wellness Program, he said, a grant that was a huge help in allowing them to secure an adequate number of staff to maintain and even expand the program in 2012.
They also received funding from the Provincial Student Employment Program for two staff members, and the Federal Government provided two students through the Canada Summer Job Program.
“Children just love the program,” Manuel said. “And we get a lot of positive feedback from happy parents.”