Nature Day Camp Offers a Personal Connection to the Coast of Maine
By Julia McLeod
On a recent summer day in Harpswell, you might have come across a group of kids with nets in hand exploring the beautiful Maine coast, squealing with delight over finding crabs, playing games, singing songs and developing a lifelong connection to nature.
For nearly 20 years Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s (HHLT) Nature Day Camp has been engaging young people with nature in Harpswell. It has expanded in scope and popularity, and this year its four weeks of camp (for preschool and elementary ages) filled to capacity by the end of March.
Every day of camp is held in a different Harpswell location, and each of these sites offer amazing opportunities for learning and fun. Campers look for crabs and other critters in the tide pools at Pott’s Point Preserve, catch butterflies at Curtis Farm Preserve, visit the marine lab at Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center, wade in the tidal stream at Stover’s Point Preserve, embark on a treasure hunt at Johnson Field Preserve, visit the community garden at Mitchell Field and so much more.
According to campers and their parents, highlights of this summer’s camps included: “hunting for crabs,” “being outdoors and active,” “camp games,” being up close with sea life,” “playing and exploring outside in places they haven’t been before,” “catching butterflies and exploring the tide pools,” “great leaders and happy kids,” “free time exploring” and “seeing lots of animals.”
Campers make new friends, learn about animals and habitats and use their senses to explore the world around them. This summer, thanks to dedicated volunteers, guest teachers shared knowledge about dragonflies and honey bees, campers dissected fish and there were visits from a yoga teacher and a musician.
The camp was started in 1998 by Doc Phillips, who at the time was the president of the Board of Trustees for HHLT.
“I got the idea because we weren’t reaching out to kids. I wanted to give the kids a better idea of our town and to get them outdoors to see what nature was like,” Phillips said. “If the kids became interested, they might hold onto it during their lifetimes.”
It is the hope of Harpswell Heritage Land Trust that Nature Day Camp will encourage local children to develop fond memories of time outdoors exploring the coast of Maine, build on their knowledge about nature and become lifelong stewards of our environment.
For more information about Nature Day Camp, click here.