Ever wonder what it takes to care for a park in the city? This week, campers discovered what it takes to become a steward of the South Platte River by learning about native plants and animals, doing a service project, and educating others about the River.
Monday: Rangers Know their Park
Campers kicked off the week the best way SPREE could think of- with learning about scat of course! We studied scat (rubber replicas, not real thankfully!) and tracks of some animals that could be found in the park. We also played a track/animal matching memory game to learn some animal tracks from around the world.
After learning about these "bio clues," our next thing to investigate was plants. We learned to identify many of the native plants found in and around the park, used some plant guide books, and made some plant rubbings from around the park. We then got to plant some native wildflower seeds of our own!
Now that campers had learned about plants and land animals of the park, it was time to investigate what lives in the water! We did our first critter crawl of the week- we waded in the river and caught some crawdads and macroinvertebrates!
Tuesday: Rangers Educate Others
Campers and staff did a service project with a park worker from Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR). We learned a little more about how and why people take care of parks, and then did a trash sweep in Johnson Habitat park. As we had been learning throughout the week so far, one problem that park rangers regularly face (and work to help solve!) is trash in parks. After the service project, campers learned about trash facts (did you know it can take 200 years for an aluminum can to break down?) and learned what can and can't be recycled at camp- and why! We cooled off at the end of the day with another critter crawl in the river.
Wednesday: Rangers are Prepared
Today we focused on being prepared for spending lots of time outdoors like rangers do! We made some mini first aid kits to take with us on a trek, learned how compasses work, learned how sundials work and made some of our own, and got back into the creek to cool off and catch some more critters!
Thursday: Rangers at Work and Play! (Field Day)
Learning park ranger skills throughout the week has been fun so far ... but campers had another even more fun activity scheduled as part of their field day- rafting! The campers started their day at Overland pond park. After gearing up and going over rules, the campers had a blast paddling on the pond together! They also enjoyed catching bugs and spiders, going on a mini hike, and working on a scavenger hunt in a new environment in Overland park and along the South Platte. After a picnic lunch at Overland, the campers walked back to SPREE HQ and had a relaxing afternoon.
Friday: Rangers make Impacts
After a week of becoming park ranger experts, campers wrapped up the week by becoming junior park rangers! We made our own paper ranger vests, did a final critter crawl of the week, and also made some bird feeders to hang up at home. Lastly, the campers all took part in a graduation ceremony to finish off the week, and each camper got a state parks passport to take home!