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!


Posted in Summer Camp | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in Summer Camp | Leave a comment

Animal Week 1 and Winged Wonders- Day 3

Hello everyone!

Meet the orange peppers!

They love Luke the goat!

The green and yellow peppers rode horses on lead lines today. They rode Max and Jade.

Look at those smiles!

The campers also spent time in the garden this morning.

Hoes and rakes were used to clear weeds from a bed.

Seed tapes (pumpkins and squash) were planted in the bed.

And covered with dirt.

Their counselor “watered his peppers.”

Campers continued to work on materials for our animals.

The campers gathered materials to build animal habitats for their clay creations.

Good cooperation girls!

These campers drew habitat designs for their clay creations.

Monday the wool was sheared off the sheep. Tuesday the wool was cleaned and dried.

Today the wool was carded (untangled). 

Campers straightened out the wool fibers using a card (a tool like a brush). 

The wool is ready for a craft project!

This morning, campers made ricotta cheese.

This afternoon, they combined fresh basil from the garden, cheese, and the bread for a delicious snack.

Here is the recipe:

Morning: Homemade Ricotta

4 cups of whole milk
1 cup of heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
2 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice

Line strainer with a couple of damp paper towel or cheesecloth and set inside of a large bowl. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Let the mixture sit for 2 minutes, then pour into the strainer and let drain for 20 minutes.

Afternoon: Assemble homemade ricotta on bread slices with basil and balsamic vinaigrette.

Here are additional photos from today:

Winged Wonders!

Tuesday night, overnight campers at Winged Wonders learned about different bird nest types. Campers build different types of nests and learned about which birds use which nest.

Next, campers went back to the campsite to set up tents and make dinner. Here, campers learned how to build fires. After s’mores, campers reflected on their days and shared their bird calls.

This morning, campers started off the day with breakfast on the trail and at Spruce Lodge in the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. After this, campers went on a bird walk and did some quiet observation time. In this time, campers identified birds, saw signs of woodpeckers, and wrote about nature.

Next, campers went to watch the Raptors eat and meet the other birds at the Bird Sanctuary. In addition to Toby, the Red-tailed Hawk they met last night, campers visited a Great Horned Owl, a Barred and Barn Owl, and Liberty and Patriot, the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary’s juvenile Bald Eagles.

From here, campers spent some time in the classroom dissecting owl pellets and learning about the food web, or food tangle.

For lunch, campers walked over to Windmill Island on Gull Lake for swimming and hot dogs.

Tonight, campers will do an egg drop experiment and present their bird nests.


Here are additional photos from today:

See you tomorrow!





Posted in Summer Camp, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Animal Camp Week 1 and Winged Wonders- Day 2

Welcome back campers and families!

Meet the red peppers! They enjoyed time with Jade (white horse) and Zoe (brown horse) today!

Today we discussed animal feet around the farm.

What animal has feet like this?

*These are goat feet*

Is this animal a ruminant? How can you tell?

*These are horse feet* A horse is not a ruminant. It has 1 stomach part similar to a human.

How many stomach parts does this animal have? How do you know?

*These are cow feet* Cows are ruminants and have 4 parts to their stomach. You can tell by the split hoof.

Campers also spent time with sheep wool.

This is wool from a sheep at Tollgate. When it was sheared off of the sheep it was full of hay, dirt, and other debris from the field.

Feel the oil (lanolin) that was discussed yesterday? The campers picked out the big debris from the wool.

They campers looked at the fiber underneath the microscope.

The fibers are crimped. Why is this important for the sheep? Why is this important for people using wool to make clothing?

The campers used soap and water to rinse out the finer debris from the wool (dirt, small pieces of hay). 

The clean wool was laid out to dry in the sun. Later in the week the clean wool will be used for a camp project.

The orange and red peppers rode horses on a lead line!

Lots of campers ran through the sprinkler to cool off.

In garden kitchen, the peppers made watermelon and cucumber salad and pad thai.

The peppers “loved it!”

Here are the delicious recipes:

Morning: Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Diced watermelon
Diced cucumber
Lime juice
Pink Himalayan salt

Add desired amounts of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together!

Afternoon: Pad Thai

Olive oil
1 cup of rice noodles
1 medium head of broccoli, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced/chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
Cilantro, chopped
Sesame seeds
Fresh lime juice


¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup soy sauce/tamari
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp garlic powder

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add your rice noodles, cooking according to package instructions.
While noodles are cooking, drizzle a bit of olive oil on pan and add broccoli, bell pepper, and onion, cooking for about 5-10 minutes or until softened.
Add in the minced garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Drain the rice noodles and add to the pan of veggies. Toss together.
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients until well combined. Pour all over the noodles and veggies

Here are more pictures from today:

The winged wonders group is having a great time on their trip!

Today, Tollgate Campers arrived at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary at around 2:30pm. The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is part of the Kellogg Biological Station (LINK: The Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), is located in Hickory Corners, Michigan, and is the site of research in ecology, agriculture, and sustainability. The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is both a home for birds that are unable to survive in the wild and a migratory stop for many other birds, including Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese. In 1927, W.K. Kellogg donated both the land that would become KBS and the Bird Sanctuary to Michigan State University.

Campers started off their day at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary by participating in the Bird Olympics, where they learned which species of birds were the best at certain tasks, and saw how they measured up. Campers learned that the California Condor has the largest wingspan of any bird, and the Humming Bird has the fastest wing beats per a minute.

After this, campers got to meet a Red-tailed Hawk and learn about raptors.

Here are the pictures from their day!

Have a great night!


Posted in Summer Camp | Leave a comment

Animal Week 1 and Winged Wonders- Day 1

Hello Tollgate campers and families!

This week is special at Tollgate. Animal camp and Winged Wonders camp are happening on site!

This week there are 5 groups of campers: the red peppers, orange peppers, yellow peppers, green peppers, and winged wonders.

All campers started off the day with a flag ceremony. The staff led the Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H pledge. Throughout the week, all of the camp groups will have a turn to lead.

Here is the 4-H pledge to review at home:

“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living. For my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

Right after gathering time, the staff led the campers in CARES skits. CARES stands for Cooperation, Attitude, Respect, Empathy, and Safety and your camper signed a contract prior to the first day of camp.

The campers had a chance to make tie-dye tee-shirts this morning. Their designs were so creative!

Each pepper group took a turn in the barn for animal chores.

The campers went to the garden to pick kale for afternoon garden kitchen.

They also picked the ripe raspberries. 

After lunch, campers visited the barn for a sheep shearing demonstration.

How is wool different from hair? What is the oil in the sheep wool? *Lanolin*

Do we shear the sheep’s legs? Why not?

While the campers were in the barn, they took the goats for a walk around the farm.

Garden kitchen snacks were excellent today! In the morning, they made bird nests with vegetables.

In the afternoon, the groups used kale picked from the garden this morning to make  kale chips. 

Here are the recipes from today:

Morning: Veggie Bird Nests

2 leeks, shredded
¼ cabbage, shredded
4-5 medium potatoes
2 eggs slightly beaten
1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or gluten free flour
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, toss the cut leeks, cabbage, and potatoes to combine. Squeeze firmly 5 or 6 times to slightly wilt them. You may also choose to squeeze them over a colander to drain excess liquid, otherwise it will pool up in the bottom of the bowl.
Add the eggs, flour, salt, and pepper, and mix until well coated.
Next, heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat and drizzle on enough oil that you can roll it around to coat the bottom of the pan.
Working in batches, drop around 1/3 cup of the mixture into the pan, spreading it a bit to be around 4 inches in diameter. Do as many as you can fit into the pan without letting them touch.
Cook for around 4 minutes on each side, adding a bit more oil to the pan if necessary. They should be tender and a deep golden brown.
Makes approximately 24 mini birds nests

Afternoon: Kale Chips

5 kale leaves
1 tbsp olive oil

Remove the kale leaves from stems and ribs, breaking into bit sized pieces.
Wash the kale leaves and dry them in a salad spinner.
Place the leaves in a bowl and coat with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Line kale leaves on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, rotating them once half way.

Note: Instead of seasoning with salt and pepper, you can also try garlic powder or balsamic vinegar!

The campers enjoyed hose time in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, each group closes with reflection. What was your camper’s favorite activity today? What is 1 thing they wish they could change? What is 1 thing they are excited for later in the week?

Here is a link to the rest of the photos:

Winged Wonders has taken flight! Today was an in depth investigation of our Tollgate farm birds, and tomorrow our 16 adventurous campers head out an expedition to Kellogg Biological Station to explore wild birds, including birds of prey. Below are just a few of these young ornithologists wonderings from today:

“I wonder if genetics change the size or color of an egg?” “Why are eggs different colors?”

“Why don’t chickens fly when other birds do?”

“How does a chicken get higher in the pecking order?”
“Is flying instinctive?”
“What was the original bird before it evolved into a chicken?”
“Does fertilization affect the size and weight of the egg?”
“Are birds only related to dinosaurs or to other animals, too?”
“Do you have to have roosters for hens to lay eggs?” “If you freeze an egg and wait before restarting the incubating process, will the egg hatch?”
“How do birds stay in the air?”
“What is the wing span of a common swallow?”
“Why do chickens have translucent eye lids?”
“What is the call of the emperor penguin?”
“Does wind affect the speed that birds fly?”
“How do you tell if an egg has been fertilized?”

Stay tuned for more updates from Winged Wonders!

We are looking forward to seeing all of you again tomorrow!


Posted in Summer Camp | Leave a comment