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!
It has been a phenomenal year for our Youth Leadership team as we continued our high school internship with KIPP Denver Collegiate and began a new internship program with KIPP Northeast Denver Leadership Academy.
The Greenway Leadership River Ranger program is designed for high school students to develop their leadership and communication skills, as well as knowledge of the environment and Environmental Education. The internship consists of teaching days, GLC days, and holiday camp. Interns are paired up, and each pair is assigned a lesson from a SPREE field trip. Interns then attend and teach on four SPREE excursions throughout the year. Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) days involve interns participating in two GLC events during the school year. And finally, interns attend one day of SPREE holiday camp to learn and practice student management.
It was a beautiful, sunny day at Cherry Creek Reservoir when the Greenway Leadership Corps took six Denver high schoolers sailing for their first time. The Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) is a segment of The Greenway Foundation that hosts monthly outdoor adventure and stewardship events for Denver high school students. All events are free of charge and students are never required to bring any gear or prior experience!
We were thrilled to have a former SPREE camper, now in high school, intern with us this spring! She spent two weeks shadowing our educators at SPREE Excursions and Holiday Camp and even tried out some teaching herself. Read her account of the experience and why she chose to intern with SPREE below.
Being a freshman in high school you aren't really able to experience any possible fields of interest for after college. But at my school Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning I am given that opportunity to do just that. I am part of a class at school where we learn how to write resumes and cover letters and then through that, we use what we learned to reach out to different “experts” in a chosen field of study. I chose outdoor ed as my field because it is something that I have always been interested in and involved in. From 3rd grade up until 6th or 7th grade, I was enrolled in SPREE summer camps. Being involved in that when I was younger really opened my eyes up to cool experiences. Because of this, the Greenway Foundation was one of the first companies I reached out to.
The first day I was really nervous as I am a lot of the time but this nervousness seemed to improve throughout the rest of the day and got even better the rest of the week. My first day was at the Confluence Park with the 3rd graders and during the day I shadowed Dee helping to make sure all the kids were listening and paying attention. Tuesday I was at Commons Park with the 1st graders where I did the same thing as Monday just shadowing and observing all the different activities. On Wednesday I was at Pasquinel's Landing Park and this is the day I actually got to teach a little for the first time. I was actually really nervous before but after watching Lena teach the lesson a few times I kinda felt a little better. I was at the Beaver station where they build dams and learn about Beaver dams and dens. I didn't want to take on to much so I chose to just explain how to build the dams and what boundaries and rules they had to follow. After the first rotation that I taught, I felt a little more comfortable and when it came to the last one I felt in my element. In the afternoon I went back to shadowing and helping where I could. Thursday I was at bear creek park and followed one group of student to each station and helped out where I could. On Friday I was at Commons Park with fifth graders learning about amphibians and reptiles, during the morning rotation I taught part of the snake dress up lesson. Reflecting on the week I experienced a lot more of a field that I have always been passionate about and I can see why everyone who works at SPREE loves it.
On [the following] Monday it was the holiday camp. During the day I was just shadowing different stations and helping the teachers. In the afternoon another high school ranger and I learned how to make a proper fire and then we set up for s'mores. This was a really fun day and brought back a lot of memories from camp. On Tuesday I was back at Confluence Park, it was pretty chilly on Tuesday so the kids were rowdier. This was a day where my teacher voice finally emerged itself a couple of times. Wednesday I was at Commons Park with the first graders it was freezing cold and some of the kids weren't dressed properly for the weather, in the end, they ended up leaving early. But I did get to teach the intro in the morning all by myself and I was really proud of myself for doing that. Thursday was my last day and I was really bummed that it was. The school group was really small so there were only two groups instead of the usual four. I decided to teach part of Montana City because I shadowed that station a lot and was really comfortable doing it. I first shadowed Mike and saw how he did it and then when the second group came along I taught the first part of the lesson. I was really scared that I forgot something so when Lena came over and told me I did great I was really relieved.
Overall these two weeks were really fun and an amazing experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to do so. I would like to thank Rachel and all the other amazing teachers that I shadowed throughout the two weeks.
This past Monday, campers braved the cold and calls for bad weather and joined SPREE in a one day camp-out! This day of Holiday Camp was Camping 101 and was focused on skills and materials needed for a successful camping trip whether it be in a backyard or a national forest.
The first activity we did was scheme and plan the supplies needed for a camp out. We organized the supplies into “Camping Wants” vs “Camping Needs” because it is important to prioritize supplies based on the available space you have to transport everything! We then went outside to learn how to set up a tent, and test out some sleeping bags- they helped keep us warm!
Spring was in full swing Saturday as the Greenway Leadership Corp (GLC) met to celebrate Earth Day. The Greenway Leadership Corps meets once a month for stewardship events, outdoor adventures and professional development. Each event is free of charge to high school students with no experience or gear necessary!
For the 2018-2019 competition, student teams focused on the section of the South Platte River, just upstream of the confluence with the Cherry Creek. This semester, four teams have been bringing their concept to life by building a scaled model of their design. The teams tested their models in a specialized flume in front of a diverse panel of judges last week. Here are the top three teams!
Click here to learn more about this competition.
To view all of the photos from the competition, check out the album on our Facebook page.
Check out the story that Channel 4 CBS Denver did on the competition!
Thank you to everyone who participated this year! Stay tuned for details on next year's competition!
A letter regarding The Greenway Foundation's position on Initiative 300 from
our Executive Director, Jeff Shoemaker:
Hoping to spot a beaver this International Beaver Day? Here are a few tips and tricks for searching in the Denver area!
Where do beavers like to live?
While beavers live both in and out of water, they greatly prefer to spend their time in the water. The South Platte River and its tributaries are great places to look for beavers!
What are some signs of beavers?
When looking for beavers, you’ll want to keep an eye out for some of the many markings they leave behind. A few of the most common ones to see are: