More than 32 area children gathered at the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary on Monday to enjoy hours of entertainment in the outdoors.
Each year, the Jamestown Audubon Society hosts a summer camp, and as a result of the program's success, a muddy springtime adventure called Mud Camp was held during spring break. The event, which was geared toward kindergarten children and up, featured a number of fun, educational and nature-inspired activities.
In groups led by Audubon naturalists, the children went on a hike along the trails of the center to discover wildlife such as tadpoles and water scorpions. The children lifted logs to discover insects of the underworld, fed birds, watched some geese on the lake and took a behind-the-scenes tour of the home of Liberty, Audubon's non-releasable bald eagle.
According to Ruth Lundin, president of the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary, the event is a way to take advantage of what nature provides.
"This is a fun opportunity for the kids to have a meaningful chance to get out during their vacation to learn what it's like to see nature in a different season," said Lundin.
The children started their day at the center at 9 a.m. and participated in both indoor and outdoor activities until 3 p.m. Sarah Hatfield, naturalist, and Jesse Lyon, volunteer, took about a dozen children on an adventure into the woods where they rolled logs over to find the insects of the underworld underneath. Before rolling a log over, the children were asked to knock on the wood and say hello. Then they rolled the logs over to find worms, slugs, beetles, centipedes and more. Hatfield's group also looked at animal tracks in the mud, rescued worms off the sidewalk, investigated bird nests and built forts.
"When kids are on vacation they come out to Audubon to enjoy the outdoors and have fun," said Hatfield. "Any experience outside for kids is beneficial. Being in the fresh air, the activity and running around is definitely good for them. They are also learning about nature, so we taught them that when they lift things off the ground it's like lifting the roof off a house and to put it back down carefully. It teaches them a little bit about empathy and compassion."
The group led by Jeff Tome, senior naturalist, learned about the donated wood chip pile, fed birds, watched geese on the lake and took a behind-the-scenes tour of the home of Liberty. The children learned about decomposition and why the woodchip pile was 130 degrees in the center. They got muddy while searching for skunk cabbage. They learned about how Liberty is fed with fish acquired from Randolph Fish Hatchery donations and how the bald eagle's feathers are donated to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"A lot of these kids are here from our day camp during summertime and are coming back to play in the woods," said Tome. "The goal is to get people outside, having fun and paying attention to what's around them."
A group led by Katie Finch, naturalist, went on a discovery walk and found insects and amphibians to bring back to the center for further discussion.
The children also enjoyed the new pollination exhibit, which details the process of pollination, and how it is important for food, clothes and just about everything that exists. Plus, they participated in an indoor craft in which they made their own edible bird nests.
The Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary is open year round, with seasonal hours of operation occurring from November to February. The 600-acre sanctuary and its 5 miles of trails are open to the public. The center is located at 1600 Riverside Road in Jamestown.
For more information call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.