Critter Camp|Event teaches basics of nature to area children

Published 11:06 am Friday, August 7, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

At Goose Creek State Park, it is believed that it’s never too early to learn to care about the environment.
In partnership with Beaufort County 4-H, the park hosted four weeks of camps for youngsters. Two, dubbed Critter Camp, were open to rising first- and second-graders, and two, cleverly named Camp Wannagoma to appeal to older children, were held earlier this summer.
The final Critter Camp for 2009 was held last week, and among the subjects addressed was recycling, according to park Superintendent Kelley Thompson.
“For me, the most important thing is to tell kids that even though they are only one person, they can make a difference,” Thompson said. “They can make a change to make the earth better.”
The lesson of reusing materials was reinforced with a craft project, during which the young campers created a sun catcher using recycled glass. They received coloring books provided by the Friends of Goose Creek and were given packets of items offered by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, according to Thompson.
“We also talked to them a little bit about recycling and why it is important,” Thompson said. “They did the recycling relay, during which they separated glass, paper, plastic and aluminum. Everybody was a winner because they all recycled.”
Critter Camp also included a special visit from Pamlico Joe and Freshwater Flo, who sang songs and talked about the environment, local habitat and recycling.
Earlier in the week, the Critter Campers learned all about trees, Thompson said. They took a nature hike along Goose Creek’s Palmetto Boardwalk, talked about the life cycle of a tree and made leaf-print pillow cases.
Habitats of the animals that call Goose Creek State Park home provided another timely lesson. The group took a field hike to search for habitats and later studied the park’s habitat-box learning tool.
During wetlands day, 4-H leaders and volunteers were joined by park staff to lead a day’s activities along the shore of the Pamlico River. They each created an enviroscape, a model showing what happens with pollution when it rains, and the campers were led on a seining expedition, which emphasized the importance of wetlands.
Another favorite of the week’s activities was a visit to Jim Preston’s farm in Bath, where the youngsters got to pet the horses and hold a chicken.
Critter Camp and Camp Wannagoma are just two of the child-friendly events taking place in the park. Throughout the year, Goose Creek hosts special weekend programs with many other them geared toward young visitors. These include Tot Discovery programs, for children ages 3 to 5, and Young Naturalists, for children ages 6 to 12.
“I think it’s great that Goose Creek can provide a safe place for children to explore and learn about nature,” Thompson said. “By providing these programs, the explorers will be guided by the park rangers, and parents can learn about the park and where to visit on their own.”
For more information about children’s programs at Goose Creek State Park, check out the About Town section of the Washington Daily News or visit