School is Out, Nature Camp is in!

by Kelly Beerman
Nature Camp Coordinator
It is that time of year again for VINS Natures Camps! It was certainly a wet and muggy couple of weeks, but the campers were having too much fun to even care about the weather. Despite the rain and humidity, all six camp sessions had many adventures, with campers hoping to return after their first week to continue their outdoor explorations. Let’s take a look and see what adventures ensued!
Week One: Natural Expressions, Earth Explorers: Adaptations, Aqua Adventures, Radical Raptors, and Eagles on Target/Natural Leaders.
Week Two: Geocaching! 

Wow, what a first week! Natural Expressions campers were busy over in Woodstockat Artistree/Purple Crayon Productions creating arts and crafts based on their observations of nature and even constructing fairy houses! Campers took a field trip and hiked up Mt. Tom to the Pouge, a beautiful pond near the top. If you had visited Earth Explorers and Aqua Adventures over at Storrs Pond, you would have seen that campers were busy learning their frog calls, fishing, making their own minnow traps, understanding the many stages of the water cycle, and just having a great time swimming or canoeing.
Here at the VINS Nature Center, our Radical Raptors group was able to participate in behind the scenes tours of Wildlife Services and raptor feeding times. One of our favorite camps, Radical Raptors gave campers the chance to see up-close how we train our raptors. At the end of the week, these campers also have the unique opportunity to have an American Kestrel sit on their gloved hand – like a real VINS educator (after much instruction and with much supervision of course)! Last but not least, our Eagle campers (the oldest age group) tried out their Robin Hood skills by learning the basics of archery in the outdoors. They focused on proper bow and arrow technique while learning a little bit about the history of archery and some new games! Have you ever played Tic-Tac-Toe with a bow and arrow? 
Our second week was a bit more laid back with just two groups here at the Nature Center and a shorter week because of the July Fourth holiday – but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have just as much fun learning about geocaching! Campers were able to orient themselves by using a compass at first and understand the importance of finding your way in nature. Then, the uses of GPS units were introduced along with the idea that you can use these devices not just in your car for directions, but to go on an outdoor treasure hunt! These two camp groups were able to find an officially registered geocache located somewhere near the Quechee Gorge (we can’t tell you exactly where, that would be cheating) and they also created their own cache for the other camp group to find.

This year, VINS has an even more diverse camp program with over 35 sessions of camps for children pre-K through 8th grade and ranging in topics from habitat exploration to survival skills to artistic expressions of nature. While these first weeks turned out to be tons of fun, we still have more outdoor adventures to come! To see a full list of our camps and to register, please visit our website at If you’d like to see all of our fun antics at Nature Camp, check out our Facebook page throughout the summer to see our photo albums grow with camp memories! 

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