On the final day of our visit to the North Cascades, we helped out at the Concrete Summer Learning Adventure Camp. The program’s threefold mission is to combat summer learning loss, to provide opportunities to eat and learn about healthy foods, and to establish a connection between local children and the National Park Service. After a quick introduction to the program and staff, we helped set up for the kids’ arrivals.
When the elementary aged children finally poured off the buses they were greeted by Mike Brondi, an extremely experienced and kind National Park Service Volunteer and Youth Coordinator. Mike led the kids to the picnic area, but not before taking a small detour to show them how to crack hazelnuts right off a tree. After this popular activity, the campers were served a free breakfast consisting of granola and fresh fruit. As they ate, the kids were asked to write down and define the word “stewardship.” Their specific definitions varied depending on their vocabulary, but they agreed that it involves protecting something important. This concept served as the theme for the day.
The majority of the morning was spent rotating through three activities. I followed the Cherry Bombers group who were as energetic and enthusiastic as their name suggests. Rangers Julie and Tyler led a five senses nature walk, although the kids were quick to point out that they were actually only using four senses because they did not want to taste the plants. The kids impressed me with their knowledge of DNA when they made spiral shaped key ring decorations. The final activity was my favorite: planting native plants. After a brief lesson on how plants spread, the campers were given trowels and watering cans. They enthusiastically dug in, planting the plants in record time.
Because it was the last day of camp, the campers were inducted as North Cascades Junior Rangers. They received certificates and badges during a ceremony under a towering oak tree. A much anticipated lunch of fresh fruits, veggies, and gluten free pizza concluded the experience.
On the surface the Concrete Summer Learning Adventure may seem like a standard day camp, however, it is quite unique. The camp is a partnership between School’s Out Washington, Concrete School District, United General District 304, North Cascades Institute, National Parks Service, and Western Washington University. The food served was donated by local businesses. The camp is truly collaboration between all facets of the Upper Skagit community.
You can read more about the camp on their blog at concretesummerlearningadventure.weebly.com.
– Sarah, SCA intern