C. A. M. P. - It is an acronym that at the New Haven Parks and Recreation Discovery Day Camp stands for Conservation, Attitude, Manners, Play. All of which, participants of the 2012 camp were immersed in this summer at Two Trees Memorial Arboretum. The mission of the camp is “to immerse youth in experiential learning in a natural setting that combines history, outdoor education, physical activities, and artistic and intrinsic experiences into a fun and memorable camp experience.” That’s a lot to digest, but is broken down into four parts that are lived out every day at Discovery Camp.

Conservation. It’s a big word that most people think doesn’t apply to them. In fact, protecting ecosystems and natural resources is in all of our best interests. At Discovery Camp children get to experience hands on education that completely immerses them in an outdoor world of learning, playing, and discovering. Brennen West, 5, exclaimed, “I got to play with a rolly polly bug! It rolled up to protect itself.” Up close and personal interactions with nature are how children learn to love and respect our natural spaces.

Attitude is so important. Winston Churchill once said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” At camp, positive attitudes and actions towards others through camp activities is emphasized and reinforced. “During Survivor (Camp) I watched a girl who was so connected to her phone and not wanting to be at camp, morph into being involved, engaged, and excited about outside activities like canoeing,” says counselor Jon Risterer Trying to get children to open their minds and imaginations to new experiences and getting them to realize the importance of interpersonal relationships and maintaining a positive attitude in everything you do is so important.

Another key element in the fundamentals of camp is Manners. Being respectful to camp counselors is such an important characteristic that children can carry into their everyday life. Seeing that growth in children is what Camp Director, Meredith Marhenke., finds so rewarding. “I love to watch the kids who come back year after year and see how they have grown up.” Providing positive role models in the lives of children provides a safe, comfortable learning environment.

What child doesn’t like to Play? Unfortunately, play has evolved from children moving their bodies and using their imaginations to something much more “canned” and stationary. To fight this trend, many movements have erupted to get children back outside and into nature. National movements like: No Child left inside, Play 60, and Step Up to Health. Experts know that being outside, moving, and playing are important to the physical and mental health of everyone. New Haven Parks and Recreation’s, Discovery Day Camp works to combine the need for children to get outside and play with the need for children to connect to nature and understand how humans and the environment are intertwined. However, at camp, we know play is a key component to experiential learning. Knowledge is continuously gained through personal and environmental experiences. Counselors guide campers though the experience so that they gain genuine knowledge from the process. This includes active engagement in the activity, a reflection on the experience, and a discussion to conceptualize the experience.  This “gets kids outside and using their imaginations and discovering nature,” said camp counselor, Mallory Marhenke. It also leads to great comments like Ian Bertoncini’s “I love camp! I can’t wait to come back next year!”

New Haven Parks and Recreation will be offering a variety of session of Discovery Day Camps in 2013. Check www.newhavenparksandrec.org for more information, to be added to the mailing list, or to get signed up!

POSTED: 08/06/12 at 6:49 am. FILED UNDER: Entertainment, News