Kenai Watershed Forum Summer Camp takes it more outside

The Kenai Watershed Forum Summer Camp is taking it outside. Or even more outside.

Joseph Robertia is taking over as camp director and he said his goal is to have the campers, who range in age from 6 to 16, spend a lot more time away from Soldotna Creek Park than in the past.

“I’m hoping to have the kids outside a lot more often,” Robertia said. “The way I’ve got the camp designed, they’ll be outside at least half the time for three days a week, and all day two days a week.

“Almost all of those are off-site.”

The camps are for three age ranges. Those from ages 6 to 8 have sessions from June 11 to 15, June 25 to 29, July 9 to 13, and July 30 to Aug. 3. Those from ages 9 to 12 have sessions from June 18 to 22 and July 16 to 20. Those from ages 13 to 16 have a session from July 23 to 27.

All camp days are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting at Soldotna Creek Park. The Kenai Watershed Forum is a nonprofit working to ensure healthy watersheds on the Kenai Peninsula.

“What we’re hoping to do is get kids to interact more with the environment we have here,” Robertia said. “You can’t care about something if you don’t learn about it first.”

Robertia said there are a few reasons he is getting campers outside more.

“It’s a great classroom, reinforcing the concepts we’re trying to teach about wildlife, the wildlands of the watershed and how the whole ecosystem works,” Robertia said. “There’s a lot they can learn faster being more hands-on.

“They’re not just going to learn about nature, they’re going to experience nature.”

By learning about and experiencing the diverse ecology of the central Kenai Peninsula, Robertia said a simple walk in the woods becomes an arena to experience so much more.

“The stuff we have is pretty amazing if you take the time to listen and learn about it,” he said.

Campers get six avenues for learning:

• Science talks — Said Robertia: “Summer camp is not a science class, but we’ll do little science lessons.”

• Field trips — These will be to augment the science talks. For instance, frog collection will follow a talk on the amphibians. Birding will follow lessons on birds.

• Wildlife-themed games — Again, meant to augment the science. For instance, habitat fragmentation is a challenge for wood frogs, because they need to get to ponds to breed and lay eggs, but live in upland wooded areas the rest of the year. Robertia will lay out a grid for a type of dodgeball game, blocking off more and more of the grid so campers find out firsthand how much loss of habitat amps up danger.

• Guest speakers.• Hiking — Robertia has at least two hiking days planned for each session. Hikes will be on Skilak Loop Road, with Bear Mountain and Hidden Creek prime candidates because they are age appropriate. Hidden Creek is .65 miles one way, while Bear Mountain is just less than a mile and climbs 400 feet

“When I think back on summer camps, so much time was spent outdoors in the woods,” Robertia said. “By going over some of the plants, amphibians, birds and mammals, it’s brings it full circle to see those things and learn to identify and understand the ecology.”

The cost for the camp is $150 per camper, per session. Spaces are limited and scholarships are available. Registration is available at kenaiwatershed.org.

More in Life

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: October is here again

The days are shorter. We are losing nearly six minutes a day. It’s getting colder.

This John E. Thwaites photo shows the S.S. Dora near Sand Point, Alaska. Thwaites sailed as mail clerk on the Dora between at least 1905 and 1912. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 2

The S.S. Dora touched lives on and became part of the history of the Kenai Peninsula and Southcentral Alaska.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans: We’re still here for you

You rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.

A wood-carved whale hangs in the Nikiski Senior Center on Sept. 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Nikiski Senior Center)
Whale of a job

Nikiski Senior Center gets addition to dining room.