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.
On Tuesday, we had a special agent guest visit camp! Before our guest camp, we did a large group critter crawl that started with observations about the park. We scanned the park to look for specific designs meant to keep park users safe. We saw signage about the park and how to properly use playground equipment, and even saw a park ranger driving through the park to check things out! Speaking of Park Rangers…. a Denver Park Ranger came to SPREE to explain to campers how they are Special Agents!
Our city’s Park Rangers play a vital role in keeping our park spaces safe & clean, including the parks along our River. We were lucky that two rangers took time from their day to engage our kids with unique animal pelts, a fun activity where campers critically thought about animal habitat, and ended their time with fun prizes. A guest we must have come back to visit!
On Wednesday our theme was SPREE heroes and villains. It turns out, our campers aren’t the only Special Agents out there trying to make a difference- there is a whole SPREE Force of characters who are helping out. Of course, we have head SPREE Force Agent Chompers who organize our team, but also included in the SPREE Force are…
- Our campers
- Agent Crusher the Crawdad: Agent of the River
- Agent Drip Drop: Keeps our water clean
- Roxy Raccoon: Has dexterous hands to help Chompers
- Energy Star: Tries to conserve energy
- And YOU!
However, whenever there is a force of good, there tends to be characters working against the good. Over the years we have noticed some SPREE Force villains who seek to prevent the positive impacts of the SPREE Force. These characters include…
- Trash Monster: seeks to spread trash all around Denver… and beyond!
- Evil Drip Drop: Agent Drip Drops twin brother who pollutes water any chance he gets
- Energy Leech: Tries to waste energy any chance they get
- New Zealand Mud Snail: Our newest SPREE villain, this invasive species takes food from our native snails and is quickly taking over their habitats
Thursday was field day! Field days are days where we pack up all our things in the morning, and then leave our camp space for the entire day! For this field day, campers learned more about one pollutant we unfortunately see all around our city of Denver… scat!
Scat is the science word for poop!
Campers did two activities in the morning to learn more about scat: one activity was a count of the different scat piles found in an area. Campers then identified that scat to figure out what animal(s) were leaving the most of it behind: geese and dogs! In the second activity, campers learned more about why goose scat is so prevalent in parks. We have created excellent goose habitat in Denver: flat fields are perfect spaces for geese to nest because they can see predators coming from far away! Not only that, but at this point, Denver is pretty free of natural geese predators.
In the afternoon for field day, campers got a choice. They could do a long critter crawl, which most campers chose to do on this hot summer day. OR, they could engage in stewardship and help clean the park by doing a trash pickup. SPREE is so proud of the 4 campers who chose to do a trash pickup. In just 45 minutes, they removed two, full buckets of trash from our park!! Super Special Agents if you ask us!
Friday came too fast at camp… but we had a blast! Friday’s mission was all about reflection, and looking forward. Campers designed and wrote a postcard to their future selves about goals they had for the rest of the summer- so look out for those in your mailbox at the end of summer! Our final activity of camp was a critter crawl- campers eagerly caught crawdads, dragonfly larvae, and other small critters during their final River time at camp.
As always, we ended our camp week with a graduation, where all campers got a shoutout about the positive actions they took at camp that week.