Ready or not, here comes a summer of fun at Rec & Ed camps

Green Adventures Camp draws on kids’ love of outdoors

By Casey Hans
AAPSNews Service

This will be another summer for kids to learn about the environment, catch crayfish and bugs and work in a community garden that helps raise food for the local hunger-relief agency, Food Gatherers.

Campers help grow and harvest in community gardens in Green Adventures Camp. (Photos courtesy, John Stahly)

The popular Green Adventures Camp is being offered for a third year in The Ann Arbor Public Schools.

“This one’s special because it’s very much hands-on and our focus is on the environment,” said Robin Schultz-Purves, community education coordinator who organizes the camp for the Community Education and Recreation Department, also known as Rec & Ed. “This gives them a chance to think about things in a different way. I think they just absorb so much.”

The camp is Rec & Ed’s newest camp offering. It features morning classroom time with certified teachers Jane Levy and Will Wright, combined with field experiences in the afternoon led by the district’s Environmental Education staff Dave Szczygiel and John Stahly.

The program is designed to be fun and academically enriching, said Schultz-Purves. She said the camp was started as a way to maintain a camp approach, but offer some real learning as well.

This year’s program has been moved from Allen Elementary to Lakewood Elementary, where campers will have the nearby Lakewood Woods and the Dolph Nature Area to explore.

“Kids really respond to being outdoors and visiting wild areas,” said Stahly, who, along with Szczygiel, leads children on afternoon excursions to area parks, woodlands and to work in community gardens. “Our society has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed kids’ time, so that many don’t get the opportunity to get outdoors much.”

Campers explore the outdoors, anywhere and everywhere.

Activities this year will include bee keeping and gardening, as well as preparing and eating the “fruits of our labor,” Shultz-Purves said. Last year, 115 pounds of fresh produce from Green Adventures gardens was donated to Food Gatherers.

Stahly said kids’ favorite camp activity involves getting wet.

“They love to get in the water and try to catch bugs and catch crayfish,” he said. Stahly said he was also surprised at how much they enjoy some of the tasks that are part of camp. “They love to work in the garden and cut brush in the park. They take ownership in it,” he said. “We emphasize that they are doing real work.”

Children will work in a garden at the Lakewood site, as well as in a larger garden on the Richard Raynor property near Frains Lake, where the program also keeps honey bees for the program.

Part of the Green Adventures Camp entails morning lessons on outdoor topics. Campers then spend their afternoons exploring on field trips.

Schultz-Purves stresses that the district and the program take all measures of safety into account, especially in programs such as this one that takes students off site to be in the field.

The camp is organized into eight weekly sessions, each with a specified theme dealing with water quality, sustainable agriculture, caring for the Earth or exploring the environment. Themes include: How Our Garden Grows, Befriending the Bees, H2OhMy!, Wild Waterways, Growing Green, The Secret Life of Trash, Wild Ann Arbor and Critters About Town.

Parents can register a child for any of the sessions. For information, see the Rec & Ed 2010 Summer Camps catalog or visit Any child enrolled for 5 or more weeks purchased in one transaction will get a multi-week discount of 10 percent off of the total camp cost.

The Green Adventures Camp programs are among 200 summer camp options offered to youths aged 3-17. Organizers suggest parents enroll “as soon as possible” but registrations are considered on an ongoing basis, depending on space. Camps take place in various schools around the district as well as area parks and other community locations.

Scholarships are available to Ann Arbor district families with financial need. For information see the catalog or visit:  The Community Education and Recreation Department recently moved and is now located on the south end of Pioneer High School, at 1515 S. Seventh Street, between Stadium Boulevard and Scio Church Road.


List of available Rec & Ed camps and links:

Dance, Art and Drama Camps – Includes a variety of  cultural arts-themed camps, including all kinds of dance and art classes as well as “Shakespeare in the Arb” camp, a one-week session that focuses on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with the University of Michigan Residential College’s Players and faculty.

Green Adventures Camp – Classroom time with certified teachers in the morning, combined with fun in the field in the afternoon, offer a program that is fun and academically enriching. Students work and plant in gardens, hike, canoe and do lots of outdoor activities.

Literature & Academic Enrichment – includes everything from “kidconomics,” math and writing  to Harry Potter Camp, Janapese Animé Camp and Star Wars Camp.

Music Camps – Include camps for guitar, percussion, jazz and a Rock Band Boot Camp.

Preschool Summer Camps – A themed Itsy Bitsy Campers, Spanish and French language,  Art Around Ann Arbor and Safety Town are just some of the camps offered for children aged 3-6.

Quest Camp – Morning only or full days for students who will attend elementary school in the fall. Programs include everything from backyard games, art and sports to Asian Folk Dance, working with beads and clay and exploring physics of flight by creating flying toys such as boomerangs.

Safety Town & Camp – Those ready for fall kindergarten are invited to Safety Town, a popular program where children learn safety awareness in a fun and entertaining way using a child-size mock Ann Arbor “town” explored on bikes.

Sports Camps – Basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, fitness, bowling and multi-sports among many more offerings. Take your pick. All levels of experience welcome.

T-N-T (Teens N Transition) – For kids entering grades 6-8, this camp has specialty programs such as dodgeball, hiking, art, garage band, magic and robotics; afternoon activities include Teen Center, swimming and field trips to such spots as Cedar Point and local attractions.

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