What is a mustelid? What makes this carnivorous mammal unique from other mammals? That is exactly what we sought out to solve during Wild Weasels School Break Camp.
Destiny is one of our awesome returning Summer River Rangers! She is a Colorado Native, born here in Denver. As a profession, she wants to be a lawyer, while working with programs similar to SPREE in the summers. Her favorite age range to teach is 8-10 years old. In her free time, she loves growing plants, mainly succulents. She loves the succulent’s beauty, how it is unique and gorgeous, but not in the way we might think of flowers. Destiny also loves pizza, especially pizza with stuffed crust from Pizza Hut. As a life goal, she wants to buy a house and remodel it so she can customize everything exactly how she wants. Destiny is very proud of the work she did with the SPREE program last summer and is excited to continue growing this summer! One of her favorite memories from last summer is when a camper told her how grateful they were to be learning about the environment through her lessons. Destiny said this made her very proud, and it was rewarding to see her hard work pay off in the mindset and awareness of her campers. Along the same lines, she hopes to continue teaching the next generation about how they can make a positive difference through their role in the environment. Destiny specifically wants to provide kids with tangible ways to make environmental changes from a young age. SPREE is so lucky to have Destiny for another summer, and we're looking forward to finding out what her favorite memory will be from this summer!
Tori is a camper -turned- Summer River Ranger! This previous SPREE camper is ready to be a SPREE camp educator! An incoming junior in high school, she was born in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to Colorado when she was just 2 years old. She is a self claimed sweet tooth, as her favorite food is chocolate cheesecake. At the top of Tori's bucket list is to go on an RV road trip to the Grand Canyon with her friends and dog. Tori LOVES legos! So much, that she has the original Harry Potter lego castle and a Voltron that can be disassembled into different lions! She also has the unique talent of double jointed fingers, allowing her to dislocate her fingers on command. A quality that Tori loves about herself is that she can talk to animals. No.. not literally, but she has never met a dog who doesn’t like her and she can make friends with any critter! Because of that, Tori is very passionate about animals and wildlife conservation. Her dream job is to work with animals in some capacity, like a zoo keeper or biologist. We are so excited to watch Tori continue to grow this summer and share her gift of connecting to animals with the rest of the SPREE team!
Camila is one of our amazing returning summer rangers from 2019! She is a 17 year old high school graduate that was born in Los Angeles, California. Proud to be a first generation graduate, her dream job is to be an editor in chief or journalist. Her passion with feminism may be part of her future, as her passion drives her character, which is one of the things that Camila loves about herself the most. Camila’s drive and independence has always stood out, pushing herself to graduate and now, attend her dream college! Her love for writing will definitely lead her to be a great journalist in the future, and hopefully fulfill her dream to travel to Mykonos Greece. Moving forward, Camila took the position as a Summer River Ranger to continue learning, in the hopes that she can bring her knowledge and skills back to her community. We are honored to have her talent, inspiration, and positive attitude for another summer!
Katie is a new Summer River Ranger this year with SPREE! She was born in New York where she would use the subway as her main form of transportation to get around the city. Katie also lived in Italy for a year where she learned to speak Italian and developed a love for the homemade pasta that her host family would make. She is fluent in both English and Italian, and hopes to become fluent in 3 more languages throughout her life. Katie enjoys being outside and taking risks to make things happen! She is passionate about teaching kids foreign languages in order to increase their compassion for and awareness of other cultures. That is also why in the future, she would like to work somewhere where she can learn about other people’s stories and cultures. The one thing Katie is most proud of is having written and published her own book, “Mission el4”! Go check it out on Amazon!
Arlin is one of our very talented returning Summer River Rangers from 2019! Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Arlin enjoys learning about the environment while also sharing her love of flautas and other Mexican foods with the people around her. Like others, Arlin has a long bucket list of things she has always wanted to do, with skydiving being at the very top of her list. Although she loves that adrenaline rush of doing extreme and exciting things, her favorite hobby is writing. Writing is something that brings Arlin to a state of peace and releases the patience that she holds within. Her hobby of writing has sent her off to different worlds where she expresses her passion for equal rights while also wondering where she got her weird talent of bending only the tips of her fingers. She has also been working on drawing and other types of art, and has become increasingly proud of the progress she’s making with the little doodles in one of her many notebooks. Alongside her creativity, Arlin plans to move forward with her hobbies and wants to study to become a homicide investigator to put missing puzzle pieces together.
SPREE is proud to present one of its newest members of the River Ranger Team, Ivan! Ivan was born in Aurora, Colorado and moved to Mexico when he was 3 where he lived until he moved back to Colorado at the age of 10. His favorite food is tacos and he loves Sour Patch Kids. His favorite hobby is going on “walk and talks” and, most impressively, he can hold his breath for a 50 meter swim! Ivan is very friendly and he is passionate about environmental justice. At the top of his bucket list is to take on the challenge of going to Antarctica where he hopes to, among other things, see the penguins. Ivan is a proud first generation high school graduate of DSST Montview and his dream job is to work for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to help control air pollution. We are looking forward to an amazing summer with Ivan as part of the SPREE team!
It is almost time to uncover our gardens from last year to prepare for spring and summer bounty. Sometimes though we can’t do it on our own. Often, it is our FBIs that help break down old plant material to prepare for the new. We aren’t talking about law enforcement though… SPREE FBIs are decomposers and are also known as Fungi, Bacteria, Insects and Scavengers. These are the FBIs we learned about on Monday’s holiday camp.
We started our first activity by planning a pizza- each camper added their favorite topping to our pizza. At the end, we realized that we forgot one FBIs topping- mushrooms. Mushrooms belong to the fungi kingdom along with other familiar organisms like lichen and yeast. We continued learning about fungi with some yeast experiments, mushroom art, and mushroom dissection!
Bacteria is a harder FBIs to study because the organisms are microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye. So we used UV lights to study some camp surfaces. While the UV did not illuminate just bacteria, it did give us an idea of how “dirty” some surfaces were- and the dirtier the surface, the likelihood of both good and bad bacteria is high! We did some experiments comparing cleaning supplies- we cleaned a camp mat using antibacterial wipes, vinegar, and soap & water to determine the best way to keep surfaces clean for the long term is soap and water.
We jumped into insects during our critter crawl. This jumping did not include jumping into the water- as we did our critter crawl on land due to cold weather. Teachers used a tool called a kick net to scoop macroinvertebrates from the River and bring them onto land where campers could sort and count the macros by whether they were a decomposer or not. Though crawdads aren’t insects, they are scavengers and we caught several along with some scuds, water boatmen, and mayflies.
We wrapped up the day with a group activity about scavengers. Scavengers are animals from many different families that all have one thing in common- they eat dead things! Some examples of scavengers are eagles, vultures, crawdads, and coyotes. We focused on our birds of prey scavengers, and created our own balancing scavenger birds. Campers were then challenged to balance their birds while walking through an obstacle course. We were impressed with all the different birds that were created- and the balance of their handlers!
Despite the cold weather, we had a great time learning and playing during SPREE’s FBIs holiday camp. We look forward to seeing you again down by the River!