Spring Break Camp Day #2: Topsoil Tuesday

Today, campers got the dirt on dirt! Our second day of Spring Break Camp involved a multitude of hands-on activities that centered around our theme of soil, rocks, and minerals. We started the day in the barn by observing various rocks, and sorting and classifying them based on their features. This introductory activity also taught us that rocks are the parents of soil, and that they won’t stay the same forever! Their whole life they go through the process of the rock cycle, and at some point will exist as soil.

For morning garden kitchen, we ate sand/silt/clay overnight oats that the campers prepared yesterday. Ingredients included sunbutter to represent clay, cocoa powder to represent silt, and oats to represent sand as well as rice milk, maple syrup, and a touch of vanilla. This gave us the opportunity to explore how soil is composed of various particles of different size, shape, and texture. We also prepared some fruit leather that campers will get to sample tomorrow.

Animal chores are always a wonderful time as well, especially with Tollgate’s darling 10 lambs that were born over these last two months. We eagerly await the arrival of kid goats as well, and some of them are due in a matter of days! Campers have really taken to the chickens also, and have greatly enjoyed holding and snuggling Tollgate’s friendly hens.

One of our morning soil activities involved learning about compost and why it is so important. Campers learned what material can be composted, what helps it decompose, and how helpful it is for farming and gardening. Additionally, it keeps a lot of waste out of landfills, where it would take much longer to biodegrade! While out at the compost hills, orange pepper campers also had a blast climbing and conquering Mount Woodchip, Mt. Soil, and Mt. Compost.

Campers also helped to care for the EDU garden this morning by pulling weeds in the garden beds and raking the soil. They worked very diligently and did an excellent job caring for the beds and prepping them for seeds to be planted. The red pepper group also explored the German gardening technique of Hugelkultur and built their very own Hugelkultur raised bed using sticks, straw, green plant material, compost, and top soil for planting on Thursday.

Following a nice outdoor lunch where we soaked in the sunshine and played in the children’s garden, campers got started on their STEAM project out in the forest. We explored the woods for two open areas to dig that we predicted would have different soil types based on the elevation, proximity to water, and amount of leaf litter. Kids then got to work digging up the soil and making hills next to the holes they dig. Stay tuned for what happens next during STEAM time tomorrow.

For afternoon garden kitchen, we made black bean hummus with beans, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, and salt. Campers were extremely helpful with measuring out our ingredients and got to observe as everything got broken down in the food processor to form a cohesive and smooth hummus mixture. Yellow corn tortilla chips were our dipping tool of choice today, but this would also be great with fresh veggies or pita bread!

We further explored the concept of ‘Soil has Parents, Too’ with an afternoon full of hands-on soil science rotations in the upper barn. Pepper groups got to make jelly bean rocks and see them transform from sedimentary to metamorphic to igneous. They also learned how to use a rock tumbler, made their own metamorphic rocks with an assortment of play-doh colors, broke sandstone down to fine sand particles, and observed igneous rock formation with solal crystals.

Red peppers also had some excellent team bonding whilst playing a word game called Contact, engaging in a survival maze challenge, creating their very own Red Pepper cheer, and playing a game called Pick a Path about the size and properties of sand, silt, and clay.

We wrapped up our second day of camp with some final reflections in the barn where campers were also able to take home a souvenir rock that had already gone through the rock tumbler. After another eventful and fun-filled camp day on the farm, we parted ways filled with anticipation for what the rest of the week will bring.

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