Spring Break Camp Day #3: Water Wednesday

For today’s theme of Water Wednesday, we kicked things off with a gathering activity called ‘Blue Planet’. The activity involved tossing an inflatable globe to one another, and seeing how often our right thumb landed in water. The objective is to gather perspective on how much of the earth is dominated by water, this was definitely proven given that the vast majority of campers’ thumbs landed in the ocean.

The morning’s garden kitchen snack was fruit leather that we prepared and processed Tuesday and then dehydrated overnight. This treat was a big hit, and we were left wishing we had more! We also worked to prepare asparagus rafts by cutting asparagus spears and connecting them with wooden skewers, then setting aside to finish in the afternoon.

We returned to the upper barn for a very fun game called ‘The Incredible Journey’ all about the water cycle. We discussed how all of the water in the world today has always existed on earth in some form, and how it is constantly moving and changing state through the water cycle. Campers got to act out a water droplet moving through this process by starting in one location and using a spinner to determine where they would travel to next. We then shared and reflected on our journey before making our way to the next rotation.

A morning visit to the pond was a must for Water Wednesday, so we spent some time at the waterfall splashing around and observing Tollgate’s ducks. We then used dip nets, tubs, dichotomous keys, and a few other tools in a pond study investigation for benthic macroinvertebrates – small critters that live at the bottom of the pond. We found some interesting beetles, snails, and a few larvae as well. Campers also found lotus pods and observed lots of new spring growth coming up around the pond.

Time in the animal barn is a regular favorite for campers as it provides the opportunity to visit with and care for the farm animals. We are anxiously waiting for the chicks to hatch in the incubator and for Gertie the sheep to have her lambs.

Following lunch, we had a beautiful and sunny afternoon with plentiful time in the forest. Pepper groups hiked out to the vernal pond and we learned about the seasonality of this body of water, and how it provides an ideal habitat for amphibians due to their unique life cycle. We walked around the pond looking for signs of animals, and found some deer scat and birds’ nests, showing us that many other animals may visit and depend on vernal pools as a water source in the spring. Campers also had a blast walking on logs and using them as an obstacle course to maneuver their way through and around the pond. Some of our campers also thought of the clever idea to test some natural materials such as acorns and bark and see what would float in the water – true scientists in our midst!

Also in the forest, we continued to dig out holes and build up our hills for the STEAM project involving erosion studies. The groups got to also identify soil types, and we saw some differences between soil in the various locations. Tomorrow we will put our hills to the test and see if they erode when water lands on them. Our goal is to continue making connections between water and land, and how they impact one another. Campers are beginning to brainstorm the engineering portion of this project as we will commence building erosion barriers tomorrow!

Afternoon garden kitchen was the asparagus rafts that we began to prepare in the morning. We placed the pre-made rafts into a zip-loc with soy sauce/tamari, sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic, salt, and pepper and then let the asparagus marinate. Leaders grilled the rafts as campers observed and enjoyed the delicious smells filling the activity center before digging in. The rafts were a great combination of crafting and cooking, and such a fitting snack for a day focused on water.

Our final task was a science project of building a recycled rain gauge to collect rainfall data. Campers helped to fashion this with re-purposed pop bottles, gravel, laminated measuring papers, and tape. We brainstormed where we could put the rain gauge for optimal data collection, as well as a place it would remain well hidden. The fun spin on this task is that we will make a map tomorrow showing where the rain gauge is located on the farm, and another pepper group will get to find it.

As we are over halfway through the week, campers are developing great bonds and building lasting memories with their friends here on the farm. We can’t wait to continue on this trend for the next two days of Tollgate Spring Break Camp.

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