Week 1 of SPREE summer camp started off with a fun theme of "Special Agent Training!" Kids at both camps spent the week of June 3-7 learning how to care for the River and environment, defeat some SPREE villians, and how to catch some crawdads in the River and Creek!
Monday: What is a Special Agent?
Campers received a mission from Chompers, head of the SPREE Force, to learn to become special agents during camp this week, as well as learn some facts about water in Denver to get an idea of what challenges they may face over the week. Campers started by thinking about all the different ways they use water every day. There are more direct and indirect uses than you might think of at first! We also talked about the many different ways people in Denver need and use water- in homes, businesses, farms, factories, etc. We acted out how it can be challenging to share this limited resource, and discussed ideas on how to make it work. Next, campers learned that this water actually comes from the River right next to camp- the South Platte! We learned that the River starts in the mountains, and the water in it actually runs all the way to the Ocean!
For our special agent skills course of the day, we got to get introduced to the many Agents of the SPREE Force and learn about the special skills they each have. Then, we practiced some skills of our own through activities and games. We made disguises, practiced getting to know each other and being a good teammate, and honed our observation skills.
Finally, it was everyone's favorite part of the day- critter crawl! We learned about what critters can be found in the River and Creek, how they indicate water quality, and we got to get in the water to catch some! We were challenged by Crusher the crawdad- and right hand man of Chompers, to each catch and hold a crawdad this week!
We all wrapped up the day with the start of our Special Agent Code of Conduct list that we added to throughout the week as we learned more and more!
Tuesday: Drip Drop and Evil Drip Drop
As we started our dive into the characters of the SPREE Force on Tuesday, we learned about Drip Drop, who likes to clean and conserve water, and Evil Drip Drop, who likes to pollute and waste water. Through these good and evil twins, we learned how to conserve water, keep water clean, and potential ways water can be wasted and polluted.
To learn a little more about how water works, we did a few activities on the water cycle- especially how water works in a city. There is a natual water cycle that is always moving and changing water in our environment, but there are many man-made systems that we all depend on to keep water clean and available to use. We also acted out a story that showed us how even though we do our best to take care of our city's water, there are ways that we might not realize that we negatively impacting the waterways. But, there are many easy things we can do to help prevent this! We even investigated at camp on how much water a leaky faucet would waste in just a day! To wrap up, we worked together through an activity showing us that while there is a huge amount of water on Earth, there is very little of it that is fresh, and a precious small amount that we are able to use!
For our special agent training portion of the day, we honed our teamwork skills by playing games focused on critical thinking, agility, and working together! And of course, we got to get into the water and cool off while catching crawdads and macroinvertebrates.
Wednesday: Energy Star and Energy Leech
Energy Star and Energy Leech are two more SPREE Force characters who are constantly at odds-one trying to conserve energy, and the other is trying to waste it! At camp on Wednesday, we learned how we use energy in our daily lives, how energy use is tied to the environment, and how we can make smart energy choices at home and camp.
We invented and played our own board game, made "Wanted" posters for the Energy Leech, and made lightswitch covers to help us remember to turn off our lights.
Next, we got to use a cool renewable source of energy to help give us a snack- we used a solar oven (made from a pizza box and tinfoil) to cook some s'mores we got to have as a delicious snack! We then tried to burn off our own energy, calories, by doing some activities around camp. But after we got warmed up from that, we got to cool down by making our own cooling bandanas!
For critter crawl today, we learned a little bit about how water can be used as an energy source before we ventured in to catch and investigate more water-dwelling creatures.
Thursday: Defeat the Couch Potato
Campers went on a field day, worked on more special agent skills, and worked to defeat the villain that is occasionally found in all of us- a couch potato!
At the Cherry Creek Train, campers walked over to Confluence park for field day. HQ campers headed over to nearby Vanderbilt park. Campers spent the day exploring the new space, participating in silly games like a disguise relay, and making crafts back at camp.
Friday: Trash Monster
The Trash Monster is the SPREE Force's archnemisis! He loves to eat trash, spread trash around the city and it's waterways, and spread pollution wherever he can. Now that the campers were expert special agents after honing their skills all week, they were finally up to the task of taking him on!
First the campers learned about one of the Trash Monster's secret transportation systems- storm drains! We learned that storm drains are designed to help keep the city safe from floods, but they can also be a trash transport system! We identified some storm drains and outfalls near camp, played storm drain tag, and played a storm drain relay game!
Next, we worked with our engineering minds and designed and built Trash Monster trap prototypes!
Then, we were able to get wet to cool off and make sure we completed Crusher's challenge for us this week- for everyone to hold a crawdad!
Our awesome special agent week wrapped up with a graduation ceremony. Everyone got to take home their special agent passport and a sticker to help remember the week!