Here at SPREE, we are always mad for macros… but only once a year do we get to spend a week completely focused on them!
What is a macro? Macro is short for macroinvertebrate, and macroinvertebrates are small animals that are still big enough to see with your eyes but do not possess a backbone or spine. If your child has come to previous weeks of camp this summer, you’ll know we look for macroinvertebrates each day during “critter crawl”. But this week, we were focused on the macros that live both in our River and on land!
We kicked off the camp week on Monday with some name games to learn our fellow campers and macroinvertebrates. Campers had to hypothesize different animals that are and are not macroinvertebrates. Some macros we identified were crawdads, mayflies, ladybugs, grasshoppers, spiders, and more! We also dipped into the River for our very first critter crawl, to try to catch some of the macroinvertebrates we would be learning about the rest of the week.
On Tuesday, our focus during our non-critter crawl activity was land macroinvertebrates. Campers learned about the 4 resources all animal habitats need to be suitable: food, water, shelter, and space. Campers then created a “bug hotel” from recycled materials and provided those resource needs before going outside for a land critter crawl. With nets, and pillow cases fastened as nets, campers swept near tall grasses to catch many different land macros. We caught grasshoppers, spiders, butterflies, bees, flies, and so much more!
For critter crawl, campers got challenged to catch not only a crawdad (campers’ favorite), but another unique macro in addition to a crawdad. We like to say “the more you look, the more you see!” because some of our macros are pretty small and easily live in the shadows of the charismatic crawdad.
Wednesday’s theme was “macros as indicators”, because as we learned more about macros, it became clear that scientists use both land and water macros to indicate quality of habitats. When many different insect species live in a space on land, it indicates an overall healthy habitat for other animals as well. Also, we can estimate the health of our water, or water quality by looking at the variety of macro species that live in our water. Based on our research on Wednesday, SPREE HQ is a healthy environment for both land and water animals to thrive!
Thursday was our field day, and we had awesome special guests to help out- ELK! No, not the ungulate species that live in our mountains, but Environmental Learning for Kids! ELK comes to our camp each year for extra special fun… they run a fishing clinic for us and your kids! ELK taught us all about the different fish species that live in our state and city, how to properly handle fish, how fish contribute to local food chains, and more. After a morning of learning, ELK then let us borrow fishing gear and taught us how to fish in Overland Pond! It was such a delight. Sometimes fun comes with hard work though, and our campers learned this when they walked over a mile from Overland Pond Park back to our camp site in time for pickup! What a day!
We love Fridays at SPREE, and Friday during Mad About Macros was no different! On Friday, our focus was everyone’s favorite macro: the crawdad! We learned about the important role that crawdads play in our River’s food chain- crawdads are scavengers! Thank goodness for that because crawdads play cleanup and make sure we don’t need to walk through a River of carcasses! We had some super critter crawlers Friday, and as a camp we caught over 200 crawdads… That has to be a SPREE record!!