For Green Thumb Thursday, our theme was plant life and gardening, and we had a wide array of activities that fit or accompanied this theme. The morning commenced with map making, which was a continuation of yesterday’s task to create and hide rain gauges. Campers were eager to strategize and draw out aerial photos of the farm, with an ‘X marks the spot’ for the rain gauge location. Green Peppers led today’s flag ceremony, and now all groups have had the opportunity to partake in this task.
One of the morning’s green thumb activities included the crafting of seed balls using clay, compost, and grass seed. Some kids chose to take theirs home, and most also opted to partake in the launching of our seed balls as a method of planting them in the field. The Red Pepper group also took on the challenge of engineering catapults to launch them.
We re-visited the garden to continue tending the beds, plant spinach seeds, and also make newspaper pots for campers to take home and plant. Campers love working diligently to care for the edu-garden beds and learning new gardening skills, and we are very impressed in their hard work and the pride they take in it.
After much anticipation for chicks to hatch, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that one hatched yesterday, three this morning, and a fifth in the afternoon. In addition to meeting the fluffy new chicks, campers visited with the other beloved farm friends during morning chores. The kids have now had the opportunity to care for all of Tollgate’s animals, which has made for a very well-rounded experience in animal husbandry over the week.
Our first garden kitchen snack of the day was an all-time favorite! We made green smoothies by blending up frozen banana, mixed berries, rice milk, maple syrup, and kale. The Orange Pepper group was the last to have this activity block and had enough ingredients left for multiple batches, which meant third helpings for the campers – they just couldn’t get enough!
After lunch, we had another healthy snack with the use of greens by making kale chips. These were super simple but very satisfying. Campers helped to rip up and de-stem the kale, drizzle in olive oil, and sprinkle with salt prior to baking the kale until it got nice and crispy. However, some groups realized during the taste test that we were a tad over-zealous with the salt. This is part of the learning process of food science though. We are always working to adjust and perfect recipes, which the campers are a big help with.
Pepper groups returned to the forest and their soil mounds to begin building erosion barriers for their STEAM project. We began by gathering around the fire pit, discussing the procedure for our experiment, and brainstorming some natural materials that would be best to incorporate into our designs. Campers then got to work engineering barriers on the hills to hold the soil in place. We also performed our first test to see how the barriers held up against water, and took a moment to reflect on how we could reinforce our designs tomorrow before putting them to the final test.
One of the most exciting activities of the day was going on a wagon ride around the farm property. Red and Green Peppers joined together for the ride and saw many deer back in the woods. They also stopped in the hay field to play some really fun games with the parachute. Orange and Yellow groups rode out later in the afternoon, and faced an unforeseen obstacle of getting stuck in the mud! Luckily we had the parachute to keep us occupied while Farmer Roy came out to rescue us and by towing our tractor out with an bigger tractor.
Another great opportunity for pepper groups to come together was for the rain gauge hunt. Red and Green hid theirs for each other to find, and Orange and Yellow did the same. We swapped maps and set out on a mission to find them using the maps. All groups used teamwork and navigation skills to successfully locate the rain gauges!
We wrapped up the day with some reflections of some of our incredible memories thus far. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is already the last day of camp, but we’re certain that it will be one to remember!