On Saturday we had a blast with friends from the Cole neighborhood of Denver with our annual campout celebration! This year was a bit different than other years- we packed all our fun into one evening when in a typical year we sleep over at Johnson Habitat park.
The shorter time did not mean any less fun! After welcoming neighbors to our space, we made some DIY first aid kits. These useful crafts can be taken into our city or into the mountains for safety during adventures.
After some crafts, we had a blast at our river with critter crawl. We caught dozens of crawdads of all different sizes, and many other macroinvertebrates like scuds, mayflies, aquatic sow bugs, and snails! We even caught a small fish!
It was almost too fun at our river discovering the life that lives below the water, but our bellies started grumbling so we knew it was time for dinner.
This was a campout after all, so we cooked our dinner over a fire. Hot dogs just taste better with some char from a fire’s flame! The patience it took to cook our hotdogs transferred really well when it came time for dessert…. S’mores!
For some of our Cole neighbors, this was the first time they got to make, and taste a s’more! What a special moment to share with our neighbors!
Where does the South Platte River water come from? Where does the water go after Denver? This week we found out during “Journey of the South Platte River” summer camp!
We kicked off the week on Monday by getting to know the world’s water and our fellow campers with a game. Campers took turns tossing a sticky hand at a world map, and tracking if the hand stuck to land or water. Not surprisingly, water covers most of the earth, and so most campers hit water!
The Greenway Leadership Corps (GLC) & SPREE's summer High School River Rangers were lucky enough to travel to Phantom Canyon, aptly named because it seems to appear out of nowhere as you are driving along the plains of the northeastern Colorado. The Canyon is one of the last roadless canyons on the Front Range last weekend, and it provides habitat for many wildlife species and native plants. Phantom Canyon is maintained by This Nature Conservancy (TNC) and it is closed to the public. We were fortunate to work yet again with TNC at Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) on this annual trip, for the opportunity to see this spectacular landscape along the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River, while doing maintenance on the Phantom Canyon River Trail.
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!
Another successful week of SPREE camp in the books! This week, our theme was Nocturnal Nature, and we focused on Colorado animals that live a crepuscular or nocturnal lifestyle. We were lucky enough to have some special nocturnal animal guests teach us this week too!
Welcome Special Agents to another fun summer of SPREE Camp!
What is a Special Agent? That is what our first week of summer camp was all about! A special agent is someone who dedicates time to helping our South Platte River and the environment it creates and supports. This week of camp, our campers learned about Special Agents through action!
On Monday, the mission left by Chompers, our beaver boss, was to get to know each camper through a name game. The mission was also for each camper to get to know themselves better and tap into their special agent persona. Each camper came up with a special agent name they could be called when engaging in special agent actions! We wrapped up our Monday with a critter crawl- our favorite activity at SPREE! Campers get into the South Platte River to catch the small macroinvertebrates that live along its bottom.
This spring's Art on the River event took place just outside of the downtown REI with two tables full of pelts, crafts, scat (rubber, of course) and excited SPREE teachers. More than 40 groups of children and adults stopped by to learn about SPREE programming, ask questions about the South Platte River, and learn “Whose Scat is That?” where it is up to the guest to match 6 rubberized scats to their animal makers.
Younger guests received take and make craft pouches with instruction and materials for 4 DIY nature crafts: a nature bracelet, a dragonfly craft, a nature weaving, and pressed flower bookmarks. We also played pin the tail on the beaver and drew with chalk to brighten up the cloudy morning.
Many older guests were also interested in the differences between our raccoon and beaver pelts. Together we learned about their respective types of coats and fur and how that applies to each animal's specific habitat near our South Platte River.
We all escaped before the afternoon showers hit, and were able to squeeze in an exciting, colorful mid morning of fun!
Would you believe us if we told you that nature has superpowers? At SPREE’s Spring Break Camp, we learned all about the super senses of many Colorado animals- some animals in our state have superior sight, hearing or touch than us humans. This week we explored them all!