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Friday, April 25, 2014

April Vacation Camp

       For Montpelier schools, this past week was April vacation. And what better way to spend a few days off from school than outdoors with friends at North Branch Nature Center! Over three days campers enjoyed fun and games in the fields, ponds, and forests surrounding NBNC. On Monday our focus was Amphibians and Reptiles. We searched for stream salamanders in Hubbard Park, heard spring peepers across the bridge in North Branch River Park, and caught newts, tadpoles, and a young painted turtle in the beaver pond.

       Tuesday we celebrated Earth Day through several fun projects. Using both tools and our bare hands, we removed many small conifer saplings that had been encroaching on the nature center fields – helping to keep the fields open for grassland nesting birds like Bobolinks, Eastern Bluebirds 
and American Kestrels.

       Campers also made a sculpture of the mythical Green Man using recycled items brought from home! Ken shared some stories of his mysterious encounters with the nature-loving giant known as Green Man. On fish cut out of birch bark we wrote our Earth Day wishes and released them on the bridge. Across the river, we found Wintergreen plants growing, heard a grouse drumming and played amongst the trees.

       Wednesday we were all about wildlife as we hiked through and investigated the forest and fields. We took note of the sights, sounds, tracks and signs of animals we discovered throughout the day. Highlights included a Hermit Thrush (identified later by campers), wood frog egg masses in a vernal pool, and Belted Kingfishers over the river.

       In just three days we played countless nature games (Salamander tag, Coyote and Deer, Hawk-Snake-Mouse, Bobcat/Hare, Camouflage), listened to stories, ate outside, and experienced exciting new sights, smells and sounds of the season. As spring rolls on, consider signing your kids up for our Summer Camps - there's even more fun to be had as the weather warms up! 

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