There are less than two weeks of school left in Ontario. Children are straining to be done and who can blame them? Do you remember the sweet sound of the last bell that rang to announce summer holidays? Both teachers and students alike celebrate that sound.
Of course parents are another matter. Unless you yourself are a teacher, most people cannot afford to take the whole summer off. A week or two is one thing, but there are two months that stretch ahead of school-aged children with lots of time to fill. If Grandma and Grandpa aren’t willing to entertain your little ones for that time period, then what do you do with your kids? Options often look like summer camp.
Never fear children! There are plenty of summer camps that give you the freedom to be kids, the glory of nature, and the structure that Mom and Dad approve of. Because what is better in the summertime, than getting outside to enjoy a little bit of nature? Nothing! In fact, I bet that playing outside is just what your parents and grandparents did when they were young.
Nature Based Summer Camps
How about a summer camp in a forest? Lucky us, there is one right here in London, Ontario! Art on a Limb is located behind Parkwood Hospital at 944 Western Counties Rd. They are on the edge of Westminster Ponds and gladly take advantage of their scenic location. While there is a focus on arts and games, much of the day is dedicated to exploring the nearby environmentally sensitive area and all that it has to offer. Be prepared to spy birds, insects, small mammals, and plenty of native trees, like tamarack, red, sugar and silver maple, basswood, American beech, American elm, yellow birch, shagbark hickory, and even a white oak that is estimated to be over 250 years old. Welcome to a tree hugger’s dream!
They don’t hold the market on summer camps in nature though. The YMCA also offers summer camps and has bragging rights on some pretty fine locations themselves. On Windermere Rd, they have access to 27 acres of wilderness at the always popular Spencer Lodge. Expect your kids to come face to face with frogs, turtles and other delights, as they explore the forest, while learning to make fire, shelters, and identify tracks of the creatures that live there. Fanshawe Conservation Area also hosts summer camps. With Fanshawe Lake being handy your kids will learn to canoe and kayak, as well as take part in traditional summer camp activities, like games, arts and crafts. For the ultimate in summer camps though, Camp Queen Elizabeth introduces overnight adventure on Beausoleil Island in Georgian Bay National Park. No cell phones allowed as your children get exposed to the outdoors in a big way. They can expect swimming, fishing, archery, sailing and so much more. Sign me up!
There is another organization that values summer camps as much as anyone, but isn’t exactly a summer camp themselves. The Charitree Foundation was founded by Andrea Koehle Jones. She remembers how much fun it was to take part in summer camp and figured out a way to give back. What she offers is the opportunity to make Canadian camps better. Camps that put in a request are eligible to receive 40-800 tree seedlings free of charge. This unique Canadian charity operates across Canada and only asks that campers plant seedlings within two weeks of receipt of them, plus water them as necessary. This is the 6th consecutive year that the program has been run and is open to any camps, including ones that have planted in previous years. For those that appreciate the concept, Charitree is always looking for donations, business partnerships, people willing to offer their expertise or any other way to help grow the foundation. It’s a great way to get kids back into nature.
What will you be doing with your kids this summer? How will they get in touch with nature?