Mud and Horse Camp – Day 3

We had a wonderful Wednesday at Mud Camp!

Campers are doing a wonderful job of caring for the animals!

This morning our Green Peppers milked Jenna the goat.

The Yellow Peppers took care of the rabbits and made sure that the horses and the cattle were exhibiting normal behavior. What is normal behavior for a horse?

The Orange Peppers fed and watered the ducks and the chickens. They collected eggs, washed the eggs, marked them with today’s date and then stored them in the cooler. They also had to move the chicken tractor. Chickens are omnivores. Their food consists of the grains we feed them, and the grasses and insects that live in the pasture.

The Red Peppers took care of the goats and the sheep. The kid goats are fed separate from the adults. What kind of food do the kids eat?

Horse Campers made our barn shine!

This morning campers participated in the story of a river that grew more and more polluted by the actions of the people who lived, worked, and played by the river. We leaned about many different types of pollutants and how they sometimes, unintentionally, end up in our water system. Manure from farm animals is one example. If just enough manure is broken down into rich compost and added to the soil, plants thrive! If too much manure sits on top of the soil and washes into a pond during a heavy rain we get nitrification and a spike in phytoplankton populations (algae blooms). More phytoplankton for pond organisms to eat is a good thing. But when those phytoplankton die, their decomposition uses up the dissolved oxygen that the fish and other organisms need to breath, and that is not good.

In the garden, campers hand rolled balls made from a mixture of clay, water, and soil. They then rolled the balls in a tray of grass seed. At the end of the week our campers will throw the seed balls in places they notice suffering from erosion.

In the afternoon campers took a hike around the pond to learn about riparian buffers. Some of the campers read the book, Riparia’s River by Michael J. Caduto, to prepare them for the hike. In the story a group of friends were playing at their favorite swimming hole when they noticed a rotten smell and green slime. Why? The children wanted to know. They journeyed up stream and meet a woman, Riparia, who pointed out the healthy plants and the animals that live near the riverbank. She also showed the friends places where the plants on the river edge were cut down or worn away by animals and people who visited the river. Without the plants pollutants, such as oil and salt from roadways, were easily swept into the water where they caused trouble.  Campers identified the riparian buffers around the Tollgate pond. They pointed out milkweed, willows, and cattails; all plants that filter water.

Everyone tested their paddling skills today on the Tollgate Pond. Campers in the front of the canoe were in charge of steering. Campers in the back of the canoe were like the engine; they powered the canoe. Some of the campers played a game of tag. They raced back and forth across the pond while developing their skills.

Thank you Stewards and Life Guard, Shin, for keeping us safe!

STEM projects continued today, and boy, was it muddy! Some of the campers are working on building castles with all natural materials.

The Red Peppers have been building volcanoes. The problem was posed with that the Tollgate Volcano is going to explode on Friday. The farm, the animals, and the camp are all in danger. How will we protect the farm from destruction?

In garden kitchen we combined some surprising ingredients. Chocolate and avocado. Ms. Shea taught us some Spanish. Why Spanish? Do avocados and chocolate grow in Michigan?

We also made crispy, curried chick peas. While the Yellow Peppers waited for them to bake they played a riveting game of hangman. What was the secret phrase?

Here are the recipes from today’s Garden Kitchen!

Chocolate Pudding

  • Two avocados
  • 6 – 8 dates
  • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk (we used rice milk)
  • Pinch of salt

In a food processor, combine avocados, dates, and remainder of ingredieants and process for about one minute. Check consistency and scrape the sides. add a bit more of milk or non-dairy milk if needed and process for another minute. Served topped with desired ingredients such as cocoanut flakes, strawberries, seeds, etc. or enjoy plain. We dipped pretzels!

Crunchy, Curried Chickpeas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Line a baking tray with non-stick parchment paper and place coated chickpeas on baking tray. Cook for about 30 – 40 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them. Toss the chickpeas around every 10 – 15 minutes so that they crunch up evenly.


Thank you all for another great day!! Only two left. Don’t forget to bring a swim suite and towel for the waterslide on Friday 🙂

See you in the morning!

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Mud Camp and Horse Camp- Day 2

What a great Tuesday at camp! Your campers had a very busy day.

Meet the orange peppers!

They love playing in the pond!

They also enjoyed using materials around Mt. Woodchip to make their mud structures.

Today campers helped with animal chores. This group fed the kid goats.

One group fed the rabbits. This group also checked on the cattle. 

This group took care of the adult goats.

Campers worked in the garden to take care of the produce. This group picked weeds to help the plants have space. 

Campers spent time building mud volcanoes and castles.

This group built a volcano using mud and sticks.

Campers discussed filtering properties of soil. What is the difference between sand and clay? 

Campers learned about filtering pollutants out of water. Was it easy or difficult to filter out red food coloring (chemical pollutants), soil (erosion pollutants), and wood chips(trash pollutants)? 

The campers tried different combinations of materials as filters. 

Which materials worked best for each pollutant? Why? 

Here campers are playing a game called the “long haul.” This represented the difficulty of getting fresh water without modern plumbing.

The distance between “home” and the “river” was very long. The campers had to use small containers to transfer water. Do people living without easy access to water have a lot of free time? Why is it important to protect clean water sources?

After playing in the mud, campers rinsed off in the hose.

Horse campers practiced their balance on a horse today. The leaders had them hold their arms in different positions to practice balance. Why is this important for riding a horse?

For their project today, campers worked on making stick horses. The horses have manes, eyes, noses, and stuffing.

At rest, horse campers observed their own pulse and the pulse of the horse. Whose pulse was slower at rest?

After running around the corral, whose heart rate changed the most?

The horse has a much lower pulse than humans. Why is this important for a horse to survive? 

Horse campers learned about the different parts of a horse. 

These girls measured out the length of the long intestine of a horse. The large intestine is 60 feet long! How long are the large and small intestines combined?

Here are the garden kitchen recipes from today:
Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Morning: prepare spaghetti squash

1 medium spaghetti squash

Warm oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and oil up a rimmed baking sheet. Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side down on the oiled baking sheet and use a fork to pierce some holes through the skin a couple of times. Bake until the flesh on the inside is tender but not mushy, about 45 minutes. While the squash is roasting, make the pesto. When the squash is ready, use a fork and scrape all the flesh into a large bowl. It should come out in strands similar to spaghetti. Mix the pesto and the spaghetti squash noodles together and serve. Good warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Afternoon: Nut-free and dairy-free pesto

3-5 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves and/or spinach leaves
2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Add all of the ingredients in a food processor and process until well combined.

Here are additional photos from today:

Have a great night!

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Mud Camp and Horse Camp- Day 1

Welcome to Tollgate campers and families!

This week is special at Tollgate! Mud and Horse camp are happening on site this week. Horse campers are doing garden time, garden kitchen, animal chores, and other activities with Mud campers.

Today, the campers began with the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H pledge. Each pepper group will have the opportunity to lead the pledge throughout the week.

Staff reviewed the CARES contract with your campers using skits.

CARES stands for: Cooperation, Attitude, Respect, Empathy, and Safety! Campers caught showing these characteristics will earn the badge. Then when the camper sees a friend using the characteristic, they pass on the badge.

Meet the red pepper group!

The red peppers loved garden kitchen and tie-dye today!

All of the campers worked on tie-dye t-shirts today.

What colors did your camper use to make their shirt?

Campers took turns in the animal barn.

These campers milked the goat. What is goat milk used for in the United States? Around the world?

These campers cleaned out the bedding in the barn. 

Good cooperation campers!

The peppers created a rain gauge to collect rainfall on the farm throughout the week.

How much rain does your camper estimate will fall this week?

How does rainfall affect which plants can grow in an environment?

The pepper groups explored the pond this afternoon. What critters did your camper find?

The campers sampled different spots in the pond to see how critters vary from one part of the pond to another. 

A dichotomous key was used to identify the critters this group caught. They found a crayfish and tadpole.

These campers climbed Mt. Woodchip to find materials for their mud castles.

What type of materials make a good foundation for a castle or building structure?

These peppers hiked around site to compare different soil types. How is the soil in the forest different from the soil by the pond? Are the plant species different in various parts of the farm (pond, field, forest, garden)?

Both the pepper groups and horse campers had snacks in garden kitchen.

In the morning, they made mint chocolate chip smoothies.

In the afternoon, they made a salad.

Here are the recipes!

Morning: Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

1-1½ large frozen banana (peel before freezing)
1-1½ cups non-dairy milk
Handful of fresh mint leaves, stems removed
1-2 handfuls of spinach
1/8-1/4 tsp. peppermint or mint extract (optional)
½ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1-2 tbsp. chopped dark chocolate or cacao nibs*

Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. You can blend/mix the chocolate bits in with the smoothie or use as a garnish on top.

*Note: For extra chocolate flavor, you can add a tablespoon or two of cacao powder and 3-5 dates for blending with the rest of the mixture.

Afternoon: Cucumber salad with sesame dressing

Sesame dressing:

½ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil


4 cups of spinach
3 medium cucumbers
½ medium onion
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup sunflower and/or sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste

Horse campers did additional activities today!

They went on a tractor ride to tour the farm.

Campers spent time grooming and riding horses.

What new skills did your camper learn today?

Helmets are important while riding horses. These campers learned about “helmet” protection for eggs.

What materials did your camper use to design a helmet for their egg?

When they dropped the egg, did it break?

How could they improve their design next time to protect the egg?

Here is the link to additional photos:

See you tomorrow!




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Animal Week 1 and Winged Wonders- Day 5

We have reached the end of Animal Camp and Winged Wonders. What a great week!

Meet the green peppers!

They love wagon rides! 

These peppers gathered materials to make a nest.

This camper used grass to protect an egg.

These campers used mud to hold their materials together.

Remember the wool the campers have processed this week? Here it is dyed with Kool-aid.

Their bracelets are finished!

The pepper groups dipped buckets into the pond to check out some critters!

They used a Dichotomous Key to identify the bugs they found.  

This group caught water-strider bugs.

In garden kitchen, campers made deviled eggs. This camper peeled the shell off of the egg.

The yoke was scooped out of the egg white.

All of the ingredients were mixed together and put back into the egg whites.

Here is the recipe:

Deviled Eggs

7-8 hard-boiled eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
paprika to garnish

To hard boil the eggs, place them in a pot with enough cold water so that they are fully covered. Put on high heat, adding a bit of salt to the pot. Cover and bring them to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them sit (still covered) for 12 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Peel and cut lengthwise, placing the whites on a plate and the yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the paprika) to the yolks in the bowl, and mash it all together. You can blend the mixture if you prefer it to be smoother. Once it is well combined, add the mixture back into the empty egg whites. Sprinkle the top with paprika.

The pepper groups enjoyed wagon rides this afternoon!

Winged Wonders! 

These campers designed futuristic habitats for their bird creations.

They designed bird creations with clay and feathers.

Group hug!

Winged wonders had a great week at KBS and Tollgate!

At the end of the day, the pepper groups and winged wonders combined to share songs.

Winged wonders started the singing.

Followed by the red peppers.

Then the orange peppers.

Then the yellow peppers.

And the green peppers closed the week.

Here are additional photos from the week:

Thank you for a great week at animal camp! Have a great weekend!


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Animal Week 1 and Winged Wonders- Day 4

Thursday was a fantastic day at Tollgate!

Meet the yellow peppers! 

They love to play with the goats on Mt. Woodchip!

In the morning, campers practiced casting on the hill.

In the afternoon, campers went to the dock to fish.

This week, campers have been learning about ruminants on our farm. Today, they learned more about cows.

How many parts of the cow’s stomach can your camper name? Can your camper sing the rumen reticulum song?

*Rumen, reticulum, omasum, abomasum*

The campers sorted these items.

Items that go in the cow, come from the cow, or are unrelated.

This group did a relay race to sort items together.

The campers discussed all of the items that come from cows. What items do you use at home that come from cows? 

The pepper groups continued working with their wool today.

The clean wool from yesterday was dipped into water.

Then the camper rubbed the wool in their hands to get the fibers to felt together.

This is the felted wool.

How does the loose wool felt together? Why is it important for wool to stick together when we use it to make clothes?

The peppers continued working on their clay creations today.

This group painted their projects.

This group worked with materials to create habitats for the clay creatures. 

This morning in garden kitchen, campers made spider oat bites!

One camper said “100 thumbs up!” for spider oat bites. They were delicious!

In the afternoon, campers combined ingredients to make humus. 

They ate the humus with peppers and pretzels. Yum!

Here are the recipes!

Spider Oat Bites

1 cup oats
2/3 cup coconut flakes
½ cup nut butter/sunflower seed butter
½ cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ/bran
½ cup chocolate chips or cacao nibs (optional)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever sizes you would like. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week. Makes 20-25 balls.

Creamy White Bean Hummus

1 19oz can of Canneli Beans (white beans)
2 peeled garlic cloves (minced)
½ cup of tahini
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ tsp salt

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and process for about 30 seconds or until smooth.

These campers showed great attitude cleaning out the chicken water dish today! They chickens were really happy to have clean water in the coup!

“I said a broom chika broom!” The campers practiced camp songs in garden kitchen!

This group sang a song with zombie moose!

This was a great day at camp! Here are additional photos:

Winged Wonders! 

Last night, Tollgate campers worked more on nest building and presented their nests. After this, campers dissected bobwhite eggs and compared them to chicken eggs.

“We’re doing so many birding activities we might as well be birds!” one camper told another.

Campers found that the bobwhite eggs had thicker shells, and many campers were completely able to take the shell off of their egg but leave the membrane intact!

Campers then moved on to the egg drop experiment, where they made an apparatus to protect an egg when dropped from a balcony. All campers had successful egg drops with no broken eggs!

After this, campers hiked back to camp for a taco dinner. Campers helped to clean the camp and do dishes before heading out on a night hike. On the night hike, campers visited the owls and listened to owl calls of a Barred Owl, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Screech Owl. Near camp, campers saw a field full of fireflies.

Thursday morning started out with a power walk from the campsite to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary’s Spruce Lodge, where the campers ate breakfast. From here, campers walked to visit the raptors.

At the Bird Sanctuary classroom, campers learned about resource allocation by doing an experiment with bird feeding. Campers used a stopwatch, corn to feed birds, and data tracking sheets to record how birds would move according to available food. We found that more birds would go to plots with more available corn.

This activity helped campers practice both data collection and analysis and become real scientists! After this, campers played games and had a pizza lunch before getting on the bus to head back to Tollgate.

Here are the additional photos from today!

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