Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

Posted in Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day One

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Detective Coltrane Turtle, and I have been hired by some Tollgate employees to investigate Survival 2 Camp and Horse Camp in order to determine whether or not the campers are having fun. In case you don’t believe that a turtle can be a detective, check out this pic:

Detective C.T. at your service

I started off my inquiry by noting that the campers have split up into four pepper groups. From youngest to oldest, they are: green, yellow, orange, and red. Then, I noticed that the campers went to the barn and started feeding and giving water to all the animals.

Breakfast time for the sheep!

Beautiful bovine

Quite a friendly goat

They seem very hungry

It was during this time that the Red Peppers discovered that some sneaky chickens laid DOZENS of eggs in the hay, just out of reach!

Egg galore!

After the animals were cared for, the peppers started to spray shirts with various colors, and from what I heard, this is called tie-dye. I saw some really awesome shirts, and I heard that peppers will get them on Thursday to wear for Friday!

I love tie-dye and I cannot lie

The beginnings of a masterpiece

Peppers at work

Then, it seemed like the peppers really started getting into the “survival” aspect of things with a talk about “Leave No Trace.” This series, which will go on throughout the week, teaches campers about how to treat nature, how to prepare for outdoor adventures, and how to handle emergency situations. Today, we discussed the ten essentials any hiker must take with them.

Camper listening ears are on

A little lesson in survival

After that, we had some time for lunch to re-energize for the next activity: a hike! But this wasn’t just any hike; it was a shelter building hike! This week, the campers will be adding to their shelters out in the woods every day they’re here!

Teamwork is the key to shelter building

The gathering of the materials

Getting to know each other while hiking is always fun!

When the peppers got back, they got to have another lesson on survival priorities. Campers learned the “STOP” method, which means stop, think, observe, and plan. They also got to rank all the things that hikers might need in an emergency from most important to least important.

Learning how to survive and thrive

Which is a higher priority: first aid supplies or water?

I also have to mention that when the campers had some extra time, they got to play with a big parachute and some plastic balls. It was a very colorful activity!


Having a ball!

What more pics from my investigation? Click here!

As I mentioned above, I was also hired to look into Horse Camp this week. The horse campers started the day grooming the horses. I learned that it is important to use a curry comb, hard brush, soft brush, and tail and mane comb to keep the horses looking clean. Hoof picks are used to remove gravel, dirt, and other debris from the horse’s hoof.

The horse’s hooves were picked to keep them clean

These girls used curry combs and soft brushes

Red was hungry for breakfast

Then the campers talked about horse knowledge. They started something called a KWL- what they know, what they want to learn, and what they learned. This will be completed at the end of horse camp to look at all of their new knowledge and skills!

I know LOTS about horses!

I want to learn new riding skills!

Every good detective uses a magnifying glass. I took mine out to the horse pasture to investigate horse time. Campers were riding on Scout and Max today- learning to go, stop, steer, and back up.

Riding Max

Riding looks like fun to me

He learned to steer using the reins

These campers loved Big Max the Percheron

If you would like to see additional horse camp photos, you can click on the link!

The campers all came together for Garden Kitchen! We kicked this week off with a scrumptious smoothie and salad. Check out the recipes below!

Secret ingredient = chia seeds

Nothing like a morning smoothie

Two pals and curly kale

I’ve composed a list of today’s activities

AND the recipes from today, which include Tollgate veggies

Thus concludes my findings from today. It’s looking promising, but I won’t make a call yet. Join me tomorrow for another day of sleuthing!



Posted in 2018 Summer camp, Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Survival | Comments Off on Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day One

Bug Camp: Day Five

Tonight on Tollgate Action News: Campers celebrate the last day of bug camp with fun activities, both new and familiar. Stay tuned.

Hello, and welcome to Tollgate Action News. I’m your reporter, Coltrane T. Turtle, ready to give you the breakdown of this wonderful fifth day of camp. Before we begin, if you haven’t checked out our Google Folder with additional photos, it’s really worth looking at! We also have a special Friday video here for you to enjoy!

Now let’s get into it. Today, the campers did animal chores while I reported live from the back of one Sesame Horse.

Here reporting for duty

Giving Red some love

And we can’t forget about Sesame!

We have to do a chicken check-in!

Then, campers continued their hunt for ladybugs as part of the Lost Ladybug Project. I’m glad to announce that even more ladybugs were found today!

On the lookout!

Ladies & their ladybugs

Well hello there

And then, as promised, peppers made fireflies in a jar today! The campers used special paint that charges on light and sunlight to then glow in the dark and look like lightning bugs. Ask your camper to show you their jar before bed tonight!

Painting the fireflies

Campers at work

2 guys and fireflies

Campers may have had some extra fun with the goggles…

After that, it was time for a lunch break before we reconvened for a bug show and tell! Remember those bug sculptures that campers have been making all week? Well today, they got to show other pepper groups their finished products!

Well, well, well, it’s bug show and tell

What a display of camper creativity!

This camper made blind snake-like creatures as his bug creation!

Then, campers played a super fun game called “Who is the Queen Bee?” where one queen got to lead all other bees in a series of movements, and the detective had to determine which camper was the queen. It was made even better when all pepper groups joined in one huge game!

It’s great to bee a pepper!

Circle of fun

Clap your hands in you’re having fun

And then for the big bug finale, we had a pepper-wide event: bug games! Each pepper group competed in four challenges: a parachute game, spider tag, a relay race, and a bug hunt! Congrats to the orange peppers, who were the bug game champions!

Find the fly for five extra points!

“Ladybug bounce” on the parachute!

Lightening fast for the relay race

Spider tag chain!

And last but not least, we had some yummy Garden Kitchen dishes today. The first one was prepared by the campers as always, but the second one was a destination snack that they had helped cook yesterday. Both were, of course, delicious!

Good eats and good reads

Just a few ingredients, and presto! You’ve got pesto!

Summer squash for summer camp!

Smiling because of the apple chips

So yummy

What a splendid last day!

And for today’s Coltrane’s Captured Moment, four of our staff members seem to have been photo-bombed by a yellow pepper. . .


Thanks to everyone who made this week of camp such a special one! Bug camp doesn’t necessarily come around often, and we’re so glad we had it this year.

I hope to see all of you again at a future camp, whether it be next week or next year. Until then, this is Coltrane T. Turtle signing off one last time.

Posted in 2018 Summer camp, Bug, Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bug Camp: Day Five

Bug Camp: Day Four

Tonight on Tollgate Action News: Campers become full-on pros at animal chores, using their ladybug nets, and creating their bugs. Stay tuned.

ALSO: Missing something? Click here to look at photos of all the items in our lost and found bins!

Hello and welcome to Tollgate Action News. I’m your reporter, Coltrane T. Turtle, and today we will be continuing the story of Bug Camp 2018. I have a lot to tell you, so buckle up! Today I will be reporting live from the Tollgate pond.

Ready for my closeup

Today, animal chores were especially exciting as some campers got to groom the horses! They took great care of Friday, Red, and Sesame until they were clean and their coat was shining.

Braiding Red’s mane

It’s almost Friday, Friday

Ms. Alyssa helps a camper use a soft brush

After the horses were taken care of, the peppers got to play a game called “Making Scents of Insects” where they were blindfolded and given a jar. The jar contained a cotton ball that had been doused in a certain scent, and campers had to fly around and try to find another pepper who had the same scent as them. This is similar to the way insects rely on their sense of smell to locate the flowers that they want to suck the nectar from.

Blind as a…bug?

It’s starting to make scents

Looking for her scent mate

Then it was time for a monarch caterpillar hunt! Campers grabbed their nets and walked all over the farm looking for monarchs. Think our campers managed to find one?

Of course they did!

Can you spot the caterpillar?

By this time, the campers were pretty hungry, so we decided to break for lunch. After all, they needed full stomachs for the next activity: the continuation of their Build A Bug project! Today, peppers continued building the habitats for their creatures, and a few groups got to paint their sculptures.

A bug mansion!

Rainbow bug!

The campers may have gotten distracted from painting their bugs…

After that, it was time to continue our lost ladybug project! Campers did a bit of hiking around the Tollgate property in search for ladybugs. We found lots of awesome bugs and we even found. . .

A ladybug!

Can you spot a ladybug’s spots?


Unfortunately, we had a few issues with the materials in the “Fireflies in a Jar” activity, so that got pushed to tomorrow!

The campers also had a top-notch Garden Kitchen session today where they made critter canoes and funky caprese. Delectable!

Caprese Salad and Ms. Leah’s “magic sauce”

Critter canoes for bug week? Perfect!

I think he liked it…

Smiling for the smell of fresh basil

A Tollgate Action News Special: the Thursday schedule

Exclusive Ms. Leah recipes!

And today, I bring you something very special: TWO Coltrane’s Captured Moments!

Caterpillar excitement

Quite a scary bug!

Check out even more snapshots from this wonderful penultimate day of bug camp by clicking here.

Well, folks, tomorrow is it– the very last day! I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store. If you want to know how this thrilling saga ends, join me then! Signing off on this beautiful Thursday, I’m Coltrane T. Turtle for Tollgate Action News.


Posted in 2018 Summer camp, Bug, Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bug Camp: Day Four

Bug Camp: Day Three

Tonight on Tollgate Action News: Bug week gets buggier than ever as some special visitors arrive on the farm. Stay tuned.

Good afternoon everyone, this is Coltrane T. Turtle reporting to you live from the Children’s Garden bridge. Today, we will be continuing to follow the story of bug week, specifically, the adventures that the campers got up to here on their third day of camp.

Your favorite reporter

The first story I have for you is another tale of animal chores. The campers got to journey out to the chicken coop that’s inside the goat pasture. Of course, they said hi to the baby goats on the way!

Good morning chickens!

Happy goats, happy camper

Kids having fun

After stopping at the barn, the campers continued on down to the edu-garden for some singing, weeding, and bean picking! The Red Peppers also enjoyed many verses of a new camp song called “Purple Soup.”

“We’re making a purple soup with purple potatoes and purple tomatoes!”

Green bean machine

Now those are some long roots!

And then, we had something really special: Some entomologists from MSU came with some of their collection! The campers got to see tons of different bug species, both alive and dead, and some of them even held and touched a tarantula. Yikes!

Putting the bug in bug camp

The butterflies were less terrifying

Making new friends

After that, the campers gathered in their pepper spots to have some lunch and prepare themselves for the next activity: a bug hike! The campers got to test out their new nets by catching some bugs in the forest and around the pond. We haven’t started looking for ladybugs just yet, but it’s looking like the campers will be ready to use their nets for the project tomorrow!

Water bug sighting!

Checking for captives

What a nice looking net!

I also have a brief update for you following the Build A Bug project. The campers had a chance today to gather materials in order to create a habitat for their creatures.

Home sweet home

This habitat features some beautiful flowers

Then, the entomologists were back again to teach the peppers about the different ways that bugs eat food. (Visit the MSU Bug House website here!) After the demonstration, campers got to try it themselves and then participate in a relay race where each camper had to demonstrate a way that bugs eat.

Relay race!

Some bugs suck up the nectar like this

Everyone learned so much from our visitors!

Bug mouth teamwork!

Now, today in Garden Kitchen, campers got a chance to make two delicious green snacks: garden slaw and, a crowd favorite, fancy beans.

Garden fresh!

So aPEELing

A perfectly peeled cucumber

The garden slaw included fennel straight from Tollgate!

Our source has provided us with this look at today’s schedule

Both dishes were highly reviewed by campers today

And of course, here’s today’s Coltrane’s Captured Moment:

Tickling fennel fun 

For more exclusive images from today, click here.

And that about concludes our look into Tollgate Bug Camp day three. It was a super cool day that really allowed peppers to expand their bug knowledge. Will tomorrow be just as awesome? Check back to find out! For Tollgate Action News, I’m Coltrane T. Turtle.

Posted in 2018 Summer camp, Bug, Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Bug Camp: Day Three