What a beautiful start to spring we experienced last week at SPREE’s “A River at Work” spring break camp! We spent the week exploring our River and learning about the different ways humans have interacted, recreated, or worked on the South Platte River throughout Denver’s history.
On Monday, we focused on human uses of our River and water in our City. We discussed direct and indirect uses of water and learned how citizens of Denver make sure we have enough water in our River to supply our needs- reservoirs! Most of the water that we consume or use in Denver is from indirect uses. Indirect uses of water include the water used to make goods (like paper or plastic), or the water used to produce food. In fact, farmers use the most water of any user in Colorado! At camp, we discussed the cash crops of our state and learned about different types of irrigation system related to their water efficiency (drip irrigation is the most water efficient on both small and large scales)! We ended our day by committing to a water pledge for the week at SPREE outlining how we could be water responsible during the camp week
Tuesday’s topic was all about our Urban Water Cycle. It turns out, water is really good at recycling itself through the water cycle- its been doing it for years! However, the water cycle gets tricky in Denver, because 70% of the Colorado population live in the city, but 70% of the precipitation falls west of the Rocky Mountains. We humans have had to develop technology to transport the water east from the mountains so it can become part of Denver’s water cycle. We also tracked our water as it moves through the urban cycle. As we learned water from pipes typically gets cleaned at a treatment plant before returning to our River. We also learned however, about storm drains. There are over 20,000 storm drains in Denver that provide vital flood protection during storm events. These drains are essential in moving water off our streets and will dump that water directly into our River. The downside of a storm drain is that these drains don’t just move water…. They are also great at moving trash from our streets to our River. It is our responsibility as Denver citizens to care for our parks & streets and to keep them free from trash so our River stays clean as well! We wrapped up Tuesday with a Water Filter Challenge! Campers were challenged in making their own homemade water filters from everyday materials to see if they could clean our River water
Science and scientists were our focus on Wednesday. We learned about why scientists study our water, and what their research can tell us about our River’s health. There is no better way to learn science, than to become the scientists! And that is just what we did! Campers got into our River to do some tests including temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen (DO), and pH. They also compiled macroinvertebrate data and tallied the number of different macroinvertebrate species they caught during our daily critter crawls. At the end of the day, we compiled the data that was recorded and put it onto website that tracks water health all over the world! That means, our data can be seen by ANYONE IN THE WORLD! Interested in our results, visit http://www.worldwatermonitoringday.org/ and browse results at Johnson Habitat Park to see the results of our scientific study!
On Thursday SPREE felt like we needed some mid-week inspiration. Our topics for the day were how our River can be used for education, art, or both! Campers became teachers for part of the day as they tested their acting skills to create, write, and film park PSAs on their chosen topics. There were many great topics our campers educated us on including why we should not litter or how to properly interact with animals in our park. We were also inspired by our River by looking at different murals that exist along our South Platte River and Cherry Creek in Denver. What better thing to do with this inspiration than to create a camp mural?! We compiled our creativity and painted 1 big camp mural to end our day- so many colors!
Friday was the coldest day of our camp. That did not stop us from exploring the park! Our Friday focus was all about recreation and the ways humans have fun at or on our River. We started our day with some tests in buoyancy as campers built boats and tested them outside on the South Platte. We then switched or focus from humans on the River to animals because wildlife watching is recreation many in our city enjoy… and all our animals need our River! We went on a wildlife scavenger hunt- while many of our animals were sheltering from the cold we did find plenty of signs of animals, which is also exciting! We ended our day Friday with graduation- a time where we like to give compliments and positive shout-outs to each camper.
A River at Work spring break camp was so much fun last week. We have just ONE more day of Holiday Camp before the summer…. We hope to see you soon down by the River!