It’s July, and summer camp is in full swing at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Campers ranging in age from 5 to 16 arrive early in the morning, greet Miss Chris and her team of counselors, and join their friends for games and coloring. In the day ahead, they’ll be soaking up information from experts who teach science every day. Several campers will return to the Academy every weekday all summer long, to learn about everything from live animals and Bigfoot to bugs and the great outdoors.
This week’s campers searched for fossils during their field trip to Big Brook, a stream that cuts through sediments deposited during the Late Cretaceous, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The trip is clearly the highlight of the week, and the campers can’t stop talking about their experiences sifting through the stream. I sat down with campers Hunter (5), Naomi (6). Julius (9) and Rebecca (11) to chat about the field trip, plus some of their other favorite things, including the Tooth Fairy, art classes, and, of course, Academy Science Camp.
Rebecca (above at right), who is spending her summer at the Academy for the third year in a row, says her favorite memory is making a dinosaur nest. Over the years, she has made lots of friends, including Julius (above at left). Last week, both Rebecca and Julius used clay to make animal models. This week, they’ve designed their own Paleozoic park, unearthed real fossils and determined how other animals survived when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Their growing brains are packed full of dinosaur knowledge.
“We’ve spent the week learning about dinosaur adaptations and how they evolved,” says Julius. “I especially liked finding fossils during the field trip to Big Brook.”
In his fourth or fifth year at camp, Julius now has lots of friends, but he remembers being shy with new people during the first couple of sessions, just like Naomi and Hunter (above in center). As they finish each others’ sentences, though, it becomes apparent that Naomi and Hunter are already forming a strong bond. Perhaps that’s thanks to the opportunities camp provides for free play–the kind of moments that enable the building of new friendships.
“There is a time to play, and there are times that you have to follow the rules,” says Naomi, noting that she likes playtime the best.
Hunter enjoys both coloring indoors and playing outside. Her favorite camp experience so far has been seeing the new Xtreme Bugs exhibit.
All the campers are attending more weeks of Academy Science Camp this summer. Julius, who attends all summer long, is really eager for Animal Myths and Legends Week. He’s excited to learn about Yetis, track animals and search for Big Foot and other legendary animals during a field trip.
Would you like to have a fun-filled week to look forward to, just like these campers? A couple of weeks ago, we decided to expand our capacity so that even more campers can enjoy dinosaurs, live animals, butterflies and more every weekday this summer. We’re also among the only camps in our area that offer sessions during the last week of August. Each week of camp explores an exciting new theme such as dinosaurs, insects or superheroes and features an off-site field trip!
Here’s what’s coming up this summer for kids 5 to 12:
- Animal Myths and Legends (July 30–August 3)
- Discover what Yetis, unicorns, and dragons all have in common. Investigate the real animals behind these mysteries. Build your very own animal tracking kit, play a game of Loch Ness Monster relay, and try to locate the famous Bigfoot. This week features a field trip to search for legendary animals.
- Prehistoric Pals (August 6–10)
- Take a prehistoric vacation to the Mesozoic Era. Create your very own mobile fossil dig, design your own trilobite, and create a replica prehistoric animal tooth. This week features a field trip to discover the extraordinary archaeological collections of art and artifacts from all over the world.
- Buggin’ Out (August 13–17)
- Learn what it takes to be a bug scientist! Start your very own insect collection, learn and test tactics for collecting aquatic invertebrates, and get up-close with live Academy invertebrates! This week features a field trip to discover the insect world around us during this very buggy adventure.
- Dino-mite Discovery (August 20–24) – Sorry, this week is SOLD OUT, even with our increased capacity!
- Calling all paleontologists! Delve deeper into the lives of dinosaurs and their modern-day relatives. Play a round of Tricera-toss, examine dinosaurs from guts to bones to scales, and learn about the giant reptiles that roamed the earth for 165 million years. This week features a field trip to collect (and take home) real fossils!
- Explore the Outdoors (August 27–31)
- Amaze yourself with the wilderness around you. Gain a bug’s-eye view of the world, play a game of cricket croquet and create your very own miniboat to race! This week features a field trip to learn more about the nearby wilderness!
As long as spots remain, registration remains open online until the Thursday morning prior to the next camp week. After Thursday morning, you can call 215-299-1060 to inquire–we might still be able to fit you in!
More Summer Programs for Tots and Teens
We also offer summer programs for tots and teens, including teen invertebrate husbandry and our brand-new Academy expedition program. Kids 12 to 16 can take a field trip with the Academy every day for a week. Whether you’re hiking through the wilderness to test your survival skills, unearthing cretaceous fossils, rowing through waterways to collect macroinvertebrates or using your muscles to scale a rock wall, the Academy Expedition Program is your passport for a week of exploration, discovery and unbelievable fun!
Learn more about the Academy’s summer camp offerings and how you can get involved.
By Mary Alice Hartsock