Liquid News

Summer Camps at the Irvine Ranch Water District Marsh Mix Fun with Learning

Campers learn about Owl Pellets, Edible Aquifers and the IRWD Marsh

The Irvine Ranch Water District San Joaquin Marsh and Learning Center are humming with summer camp activity. Youngsters of all ages are enjoying camps hosted by Discovery Science Center and the Sea and Sage Audubon Society.

Discovery Science Center offers six one-week camp sessions for children ages five through 10. Five and six year old campers join the Summer Smiles Camp, where they investigate the world of frogs, butterflies and flora, and even get to play in the dirt. Older campers, ages seven through 10, participate in Project Discovery Camp, which caters to future engineers and builders by providing hands-on activities such as building wind-powered cars, dropping eggs without breaking them and constructing catapults. Campers even explore chemistry basics. Camps run from July through the middle of August.

On a recent day of camp the Discovery Room, Discovery Science Center instructor, Karyn Nagel, demonstrated to the Summer Smiles campers how to make an edible aquifer out of chocolate chips, lemon-lime soda and vanilla ice cream. The real challenge lay in convincing the youngsters not to touch their full cups, while Nagel explained what an aquifer is and what the various components represented. 

The Sea and Sage Chapter of the Audubon Society also hosts a variety of summer camps at the IRWD Marsh and Learning Center including Fledgling Camp for youngsters age seven and eight and Coastal Bird Camp and Advanced Bird Camp, for children 11 years and older. These popular camps sell out every year.

"We have been doing these camps since 1993, with our wonderful volunteers," said Trude Hurd, Sea and Sage Marsh Education Project Director. In all, 24 Audubon volunteers work throughout the year organizing the camps, which begin at the end of June and continue through the end of July.

Last week the nine through 12-year-olds in the Marsh Bird Camp were about to dissect owl pellets, which are not what you might think they are. Because owls don't chew their food, the soft portions of their prey are digested, while the harder materials such as bone, fur and hair congeal together in a mass, which is regurgitated. These masses are known as owl pellets. Volunteer Bev Spring gave the campers tips about effective dissection.

"I normally don't lead this camp, but I come in to teach the pellets section because no one else will do it," Spring said, laughing.

Please visit the Community Programs section of www.irwd.com for more information on summer camps at the Marsh and all the IRWD student and community education programs.

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