This week at camp, campers broke out the butterfly nets, magnifying lenses, and bug boxes as they explored the secret lives of mini-beasts! Insects and other tiny critters often get overlooked as animals, but campers this week had a great time learning about their amazing adaptations.
On Monday, we focused on herbivorous (plant eating) insects. We acted out bee adaptations and how they pollinate plants while looking for nectar. Another cool plant- eating insect we learned about are butterflies, and their larval stage, caterpillars. We acted out the lives of caterpillars in a obstacle race, and learned about symmetry in nature while making our own paper butterflies.
Our focus switched to carnivorous insects on Tuesday. We first learned about the amazing hunting skills and adaptations of the praying mantis. Next, we investigated an insect that isn't usually remembered as a predator- ladybugs! We discovered their unique life cycle (and realized that there are more ladybugs in the park than we thought!), and acted out their lives and hunting skills through some games. While doing critter crawl, we also discovered carnivorous insects in the water- dragonfly nymphs!
On Wednesday we learned about a different type of mini-beasts, arachnids! Arachnids aren't insects. They have 8 legs, and have different body types and adaptations than insects do. We dispeled some myths about spiders, learned about different types of spiders, and went on a spider hunt. We created spider gliders, made a spider web craft, and played a spider web game! During critter crawl, we learned about and looked for fishing spiders!
For field day on Thursday, we focused on the aquatic macroinvertebrates that live in the creek and river in Denver. We looked for these cool mini-beasts in the creek, and acted out their adaptations and hunting styles through games and activities. We also had a special guest presentation from the Butterfly Pavillion come in on Thursday. We learned even more cool facts about mini-beasts and invertebrates and got to meet some very cool hissing cockroaches they brought!
Friday's focus was on all the slithery and slimy, creepy and crawly mini-beasts that live in our "naturehoods." We learned about slugs, worms, snails, and even leeches! We made crafts, played games, and searched for critters in the creek that we sorted into different scientific classification groups.
After a week, the campers were experts in many different types of mini-beasts- and so we celebrated with a graduation ceremony!
On Tuesday, we took our knowledge about food webs and applied to our own park. We learned to identify some plants around camp, acted out predator and prey relationships of local animals, and explored the river and how it connects to the park food web. Then, we started our project of making ecosystem dioramas.
We switched our focus to the river food web on Wednesday. We learned about different types of aquatic plants that live in the water, discovered the crazy adapations of some aquatic macroinvertebrates, and made some craft dragonflies. Then, we caught some critters in the river and sorted them by where they sit in the food web.
Thursday was field day! We walked to nearby Vanderbilt park to explore the food webs of plants, animals, and the pond there. We did scavenger hunts, played games, and looked for signs of animals that live in the park that we couldn't see.
The week wrapped up with a day themed around ecosystem engineers and keystone species. We did activities about how different animals big and small such as wolves, bees, and beavers have huge impacts on the food webs and ecosystems that they live in.
Then, as always, we wrapped up the week with a graduation ceremony for all the campers!
During week 2 of SPREE Summer Camp, the kids had a blast becoming different types of scientists each day! On Monday, the campers were botanists. They learned about plant anatomy, investigated how different types of seeds travel, and planted some seeds of their own.
A flock of ornithologists packed camp on Tuesday! Campers investigated different types of bird beaks, made bird feeders, dissected owl pellets, and, met some birds brought by a fantastic guest speaker- Nature's Educators!
sOn Thursday campers were budding ecologists as we went on a field day to a nearby park and investigated the plants and animals there. We discovered how they all interact in a complex food web. And, we investigated the River and creek ecosystems as well with some "critter crawl!"
We rocked Friday by becoming geologists. We acted out the rock cycle- how rocks form and change over time (millions of years!). Campers learned to identify some Colorado rocks, and even got to find a "rock friend" to take home.
Wednesday had us move to a little more recent time, around the 1700s, where we learned about Native American tribes that lived in our area then, and still today! Campers had a fantastic time practicing "hunting" skills through making animal disguises and playing games- such as practicing aim through a hoop and dart game that kids of these tribes used to play. Another way we learned about Arapahoe and Cheyenne traditions was through art. We made some of our own sand art inspired by sand paintings that were designed to help heal sick tribespeople. We also got to hear traditional fables, and write and, act out some of our own stories!
On Thursday campers were introduced to the Europeans that started coming West to explore and start fur trading. We acted out some aspects of the daily lives that these "mountain men" (and women!) would have faced. We made our own version of a journal. These journals were imperative for explorers and trappers who needed to make important notes that helped them survive, and, help with their business records. These journals are one of the ways that we know so much about some of the people that came out West to explore. For more fun, we did a scavenger hunt through the park to find some traditional items that could have been seen here a few hundred years ago! We wrapped up our day with some "fishing" by the river- as many people have done for hundreds (and thousands!) of years.
Friday's focus was on pioneers and prospectors of the 1800s. Campers had a blast playing pioneer games like a 3-legged racing, potato sack races, and kick the can! We also made some pioneer-inspired art by making aluminum-punch pictures. Our whirlwind travels through time wrapped up with gold panning in the river- where many campers found magnatite, garnet, quartz, and even a few flakes of gold. After a great week, we also had a graduation ceremorny for our new Colorado history experts!
The Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) and SPREE's summer High School River Rangers got to explore a new river this past weekend. We drove south from Denver to Buena Vista, where we spend two days rafting along the Arkansas River!
For many students, this was their first time rafting. We also had a few returning students from last year's trip! The first day we rafted down some calmer water, getting used to paddling, seeing the importance of working as a team, and learning the various rafting commands. The second day, we rafted through Brown's Canyon, which is a National Monument. This spectacular setting led us to some Class II and Class III rapids, including Zoom Flume and Widow Maker. The whole way, we had the amazing cityWild staff guiding us, teaching us the proper techniques, and navigating through those crazy rapids!
This was a two-day trip, and we spent the night camping in Buena Vista at Turtle Rock. Before and after making dinner, we all went exploring around the spectacular rock features, with all of us making it to the top of Turtle Rock for some spectacular views!
Thank you so much to cityWild for helping make this trip a reality yet again. I know it's one of the trips we all look forward to the most every year!
Our first week of 2018 summer camps was a blast! Over June 4-8, both of our camp locations had the theme: Special Agent Training! Our focus was on being becoming special agents of the environment and the community.
Monday was the introduction to being a special agent. We learned and developed many skills including, teamwork, observation, and becoming an expert in your surrounding environment.
On Tuesday we went more in depth in learning about the waterways and water systems in Denver. We had some very special guests to give us a demonstration- Denver's storm drain cleaners! They have the very important job of making sure the storm drains stay clean and safe so that the city doesn't flood!
On Wednesday we focused more in on some special agent skills! We analyzed our fingerprints, investigated animal tracks, made nature disguises, and made pompom launchers!
Next, on Thursday, we learned about some more of Denver's own local special agents- Park Rangers! And, we worked on becoming experts in the park spaces around camp as well. We went on nature hikes, learned how to pick up trash safely (and how to help prevent it from getting into the park and river), and even made trash/doggie bag dispensers!
Friday was field day and graduation day! We explored a new nearby park, went on a scavenger hunt, did a relay race, played games, and much more!
We wrapped up our week with a graduation ceremony celebrating all the new things we learned and discovered this week.
The Greenway Foundation (TGF) was thrilled to take part in Southwest Denver’s Safe Summer Kickoff event at Garfield Lake Park on June 2nd. TGF participated in the event as a part of the MY Outdoor Colorado coalition, which received funding from Great Outdoors Colorado to provide additional outdoor programming and park improvements for residents of the Westwood neighborhood.
Staff from TGF’s SPREE program spent the day helping kids build bird houses and bug boxes, teaching them about Denver’s urban beavers, and sharing information on TGF programs with families. TGF’s Executive Director, Jeff Shoemaker, also spoke at the event along with Mayor Hancock and the Deputy Manager of Denver Parks and Recreation. It was a beautiful day and a great time was had by all!