Recreation department to offer summer camps for kids

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Children who want to explore nature and the world around them – in the woods and down by the stream – will get their chance in new summer camp programs offered by the Lawrence Township Recreation Department.

One of the new camps, dubbed the Nature Center Explorer’s Camp, will be held at the Lawrence Nature Center at 481 Drexel Avenue, said Superintendent of Recreation Nancy Bergen. It will be offered to¬†students in grades 2-5 in back-to-back one-week sessions, set for July 9-13 and July 16-20.

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A similar camp – STEAMIN’ at the Lawrence Nature Center, and led by Lawrence Township school district teacher Jeanne Muzi – is aimed at students in grades 3-6. It will be held July 23-27 at the Lawrence Nature Center, Bergen said. Both camps are oriented around STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and math.

“Children do not tend to spend as much time outdoors,” Bergen said, adding that the Lawrence Nature Center on Drexel Avenue, which is owned by Lawrence Township, is a nice setting for a summer camp.

“We realize that parents are doing more specialized camps for their children,” Bergen said. “STEAM and STEM have become very popular. We want to expose children to a unique camp, where they can learn about STEAM and STEM.”

At the Nature Center Explorer’s Camp, the children will explore aspects of science, technology, engineering, art and math at the Lawrence Nature Center. The camp will be led by John Emmons, who serves on Sustainable Lawrence and the Lawrence Township Trails, Open Space and Stewardship Advisory Committee.

Emmons, who teaches in the Haddonfield public school district, said he will guide the children in “inquiry-based, hands-on experiential learning.” He teaches STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – in the southern New Jersey school district.

“Children should be encouraged to explore and to ask questions and make discoveries,” Emmons said. “That’s what they will do at the Lawrence Nature Center Explorer’s Camp, in a safe and structured and supportive environment.”

The campers will take part in engineering challenges, such as designing and building craft stick bridges. They will explore aeronautics and the physics of flight by building and flying hand-made paper airplanes, Emmons said.

Out in the field, the campers will conduct experiments on soil and water, he said. They will observe conditions in the field, classifying areas as upland or wetlands. They will observe the stream that runs through the nature preserve.

The campers will learn how to collect, analyze and interpret data, Emmons said. They will learn how to make detailed sketches of the natural environment and specimens that they find in the field.

“We will also play. The camp includes time for old-fashioned games. We offer a little bit of everything. Learning should be fun,” Emmons said.

For more information, contact the Lawrence Township Recreation Department at 609-844-7067, or online at www.lawrencetwp.com.

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