Campers make discoveries in the Botanic Garden

MORGANTOWN — Kids got up close and personal with some six-legged specimens at the West Virginia Botanic Garden (WVBG) on Tuesday. The Summer Nature Camp is one of the many programs for children the garden will host this summer.

Erin Smaldone, education director at the botanic garden, said the main idea of the camp is to get kids outside, exploring nature, making discoveries and having fun. She said that is supplemented with some mini lessons and activities in the classroom, as well as some games outside that reinforce the concepts the kids are learning.

Every day of camp features a different subject, and Tuesday was insect day. On Monday, campers learned about trees and flowers. Other themes will include water, wildlife and birds.

“Every day has sort of a different theme as well, kind of ideas we’re trying to get across. So, today we’re talking about insect adaptations, and we did an activity with different kinds of mouth parts the insects have, and later in the afternoon, we’ll talk about different insect habitats,” said Smaldone.

Although many people might not want to cozy up to an insect, the kids running the grounds of the WVBG didn’t seem fazed by the creatures. Smaldone said it seems more adults are afraid of insects than kids.

“Until you get a bee sting, then you’re a little wary,” she said, laughing.

The class hosts two age groups. Tuesday featured the older age group, with most of the kids who attended rising from second to third grade. Next week, children in pre-k through first grade will have the chance to attend camp.

“For both of them, part of the intention is to foster a lifelong love of nature and all creatures,” she said.

The WVBG has a long list of activities lined up for the summer months. This weekend, it will hold a pollination garden workshop for all ages. Smaldone said kids should be interested in that.

Katie Fallon, a local author and director of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, will read her children’s book “Look, See the Farm!” and children will learn about organism that live in organic gardens and farms. Also, the first Friday of every month, Smaldone will lead a family walk where families can hear a story, take a walk and conclude the evening with a craft. The botanic garden requires registration before activities and events, said Smaldone, which can be done on the website.

One of the most plentiful discoveries found at the Botanic Garden on Tuesday was a dragonfly. Others found grasshoppers, moths and fireflies.

“The most important thing to take away is that nature is exciting and fun,” Smaldone said, “and there’s always more that they can learn, and there’s always more that they can discover.”

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