During camp, boys spend every minute of the day either outside in nature or in open air buildings, enjoying the Western NC climate. This can be a stark contrast to daily life back home, with air conditioned homes, indoor classrooms, and highly-scheduled extracurriculars inside. One of the many goals of the camp experience is to cultivate an appreciation for the outdoor world, allowing boys to engage with nature. By learning about the natural world, boys can form an affinity for nature, or grow their already existing love for the surrounding flora and fauna. We encourage this appreciation and exposure to nature in many of our activities, including Backpacking, the F.A.R.M., Outdoor Skills Certified, and Nature.
The Nature program at camp is a mix of lessons and experiential learning. For example, the boys may listen to a lesson about a frog’s life cycle before going out to the lake and looking around for frogs themselves. The nature hut has several snakes that the boys help care for and learn about, and this coming week they are taking a trip to a local serpentarium to see an even larger variety of snakes. Today, Steve Longenecker, Carson Skidmore, and Sam Clayton were taking several boys to Looking Glass Rock, visiting the peregrine falcon eyries. This is nesting season for the fastest creatures in the world, and the boys brought binoculars in the hopes of catching a glimpse of them diving and flying around their nests.
Back at camp, KC was teaching a lesson on rocks, going over the rock cycle with the boys. She displayed a chart that showed the three different kinds of rocks, metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary, along with their relationships to each other. She explained that they would start with sedimentary rock, and asked the boys if they knew how a sedimentary rock was formed. “It’s basically a layered rock,” Tucker P. said, “It’s where the different sediments get compressed and packed down with water over time.” Miguel asked if diamond were sedimentary rock since they get compressed, but KC clarified that the extreme heat and pressure needed to form a diamond actually qualifies them as metamorphic rocks.
After plenty of rock discussion, the conversation shifted to plate tectonics (get it?). KC explained the different ways that plates can shift, and Julian asked if there would ever be a big enough “crack” for us to climb down into the center of the earth. It was fun to think about, but KC explained how that wouldn’t be possible. Since this group of boys was so passionate about geology, she opened up the discussion to allow boys to teach each other about what they knew. William A. talked about seafloor spreading, while Julian explained the difference between fluorite and fluoride. These “camper lessons” were a great way to encourage peer learning, and allow the boys to share the wealth of knowledge they have with each other, stoking the excitement for more nature and science discussions.
Before the end of the period, KC taught the group about the most important mountain formation in this area: the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. She went over the Taconic Orogeny that happened 480 million years ago, lifting up the plates and beginning the Appalachian mountain range formation. Then 430 million years ago the Acadian Orogeny happened, followed by the Alleghenian Orogeny 380 million years ago. All of this plate shifting created the Appalachian mountain range, once taller than today’s Himalayan mountain range. Since then, they have been slowly eroding down to the soft rounded mountains that we see today. The campers enjoyed learning about how camp, and the area we take most of our trips in, is nestled in one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
For Warrior progressions in Nature, one of the items that boys have to complete is a service project to benefit the program. Both Ben F. and William A. were working on their Warrior projects, preparing things that would continue to help those in the activity. William was building a table at the woodshop, which would go on the porch of nature so they could use it during their lessons. Ben was performing pH tests on the soil of a raised bed outside the nature hut, seeing if the pH levels were right for planting. He intended to plant a variety of wildflowers, creating a pollinator garden for the bees and butterflies that pollinate camp.
The experiential learning didn’t end with 6th period though, since several of the boys were excited for a short trip that evening. “We’re going stargazing!” Julian shared with me, “I can’t wait to stay up past the normal lights-out time.” Part of the progressions in Nature is knowing and identifying three constellations. Tucker was beginning the work on his Ranger progressions, and was going on the evening stargazing trip so that he could learn more about the stars. KC was going to teach them all about the summer constellations, including tips for how to find the North Star by using the edge of the Big Dipper to point to it in the Little Dipper’s tail.
Our hope is that boys nurture their sense of wonder and increase their affinity for the outdoor world through their experiences in nature. By immersing themselves In the natural world, boys gain a greater appreciation for what surrounds them, fostering a love for nature and learning their place within it. Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to another full day of exploring the woods, hiking the trails, and learning about the plants and animals that surround us, all while staying unplugged from the technology and social media that take up so much of life back home.
More Highlights From This Wednesday:
- John S. Earned Ranger in Music
- Charlie E. and Ford B. achieved Warrior in Horseback
- Taishi L. achieved Ranger in Basketball
- Pablo P. & Jose P. achieved Warrior in Soccer
- William Z. achieved Ranger in the HEAT
- HarryO passed on the “White Tiger Staff-of-the-Week” award to James Chadwick for displaying his Servant’s Heart consistently, always helping out with meal cleanup, among other things.
- Ten boys went to Camp Illahee for Girls in nearby Brevard to play mixed doubles with their campers – they enjoyed some friendly competition!
- Breakfast: Pancakes and bacon with a cheesy grits bar, yogurt, fruit, and granola
- Lunch: Chicken marinara with seasoned fries, sliced peaches, broccoli cheddar soup with warm bread, a full salad bar, and fudgy brownies for dessert
- Dinner: Beef brisket with corn, baked beans, cornbread, a full salad bar (with homemade red pepper hummus), and confetti cake with sprinkles for dessert