Imagine taking trips under the sea, a walk with dinosaurs and saving endangered animals, all without leaving the city limits of Hogansville.
It’s just some of what campers with the Hogansville unit of the West Georgia Boys and Girls Club experienced during their annual summer camp. The organization partnered up with the United Way to present a unique theme called “Camp Rangers” and featured all different aspects of the environment. The students studied the world around them, just as they would in school. However, as the Boys and Girls Club staff said, it’s fun with a purpose.
“We wanted them to learn,” said staffer Candis Carlisle. “For instance they learned about bees. As a kid you see bees and think, ‘Ow, they sting!’ But you don’t realize how important they are. I always tried to think ‘how can I get them the information and make it fun?’”
So the staff taught a new topic each week and combined it with hands-on learning projects, several guest speakers, plus weekly field trips. The campers studied topics including the ocean, geology, dinosaurs, water conservation, recycling, bees, birds and endangered animals.
The students listened to environmental professionals like forest ranger Russell Epps, plus animal experts who brought in a variety of species like birds, snakes and bats. Campers held an “Animal Olympics,” planted a garden, recycled bottles and made bird houses.
And they went into the “wild” to see what they were studying up close and personal.
“We went on a field trip at Cochran Mill Park … and we saw a snake,” said 11-year-old Shaniya Blackmon.
“We went to the nature center, and got to go on a nature trail and pet new animals,” added 11-year-old Josie Mullnicks.
The children also visited the Hogansville Library, Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, Callaway Gardens, Roosevelt State Park and took a boat ride on Lake Lanier.
“We searched for plankton and fished it out of the water. Then we got to measure how deep the water was,” said 10-year-old Shamarius Blackmon.
“I liked when we went to the library and learned about bats,” said 10-year-old Serenity Duncan. “She (the animal expert) walked around the room with the bat and we got to see it.”
Carlisle said that the excitement on the campers’ faces and their eagerness to learn made the nine-week program a success.
“They enjoyed it,” she said. “They’d come back from the field trips and tell me about the lake or nature trail and what they saw … snakes, snapping turtles. It’s been an excellent program. I’m proud of it.”
More importantly, the “Camp Rangers” program camp kept the students engaged in school-related topics without being tied to a book. It gives the campers a head start when they head back to the classroom in less than a month and teaches them how to care for the world around them – valuable information they can take home with them.
“We learned about water,” explained Dunn. “We should conserve it because we might run out one day. When brushing our teeth don’t leave the water running … and don’t waste paper.”
The “Camp Rangers” program will wrap up for the summer on Friday.