Liquid News

Twenty Years of Summer Camp at the San Joaquin Marsh

Youngsters of all ages from Anaheim to Irvine have discovered that the Irvine Ranch Water District San Joaquin Marsh is the place to be during the summer. Sea and Sage Audubon is observing 20 years of presenting its summer nature camps, while the Discovery Science Center is enjoying its fourth year.

“We have many of the same campers coming back year after year,” said Trude Hurd, Project Director of Education for Sea and Sage.

The summer camps are held in the IRWD Learning Center at the Marsh Campus and combine hands-on activities with Marsh education. Veterans of the Sea and Sage Advanced Camp may go on to become members of the Junior Naturalist Program.

The Sea and Sage Fledgling Camp for seven and eight-year-olds introduces young campers to the world of birds and journaling. Marsh Bird Camp is for nine to 12 year olds. Campers 11 years and older may participate in Advanced Bird Camp or Birds, Bugs and Blossoms Camp.

Discovery Science Center has two offerings – Summer Smiles for five and six-year-olds and Project Discovery for ages seven to 10.

On a recent day of camp in the Discovery Room, Discovery Science Center instructor Karyn Nagel and her staff worked with Summer Smiles campers in constructing bird feeders from bread and birdseed. Egg was spread on the bread, and then pressed into the bird seed. Cookie cutters allowed the youngsters to create fun and interesting shapes in their bird feeders before they were allowed to dry. The finishing touch was placing a ribbon on the bread and birdseed so it could be tied on a tree to attract birds.

This was a jam-packed day – the youngsters heard a story, made leaf prints, took nature walks and capped their day making edible aquifers from vanilla ice cream, lemon-lime soda and chocolate chips.

In the Adventure Room, the Sea and Sage Marsh Bird Camp was enjoying Raptor Day. Volunteers from the Orange County Bird of Prey Center brought several visitors with them – Aries the American kestrel, Gus the screech owl, Spartacus the burrowing owl, JR the Harris Hawk, Wrong Way and great horned owl, and Hank the red-tailed hawk.

These birds have all been injured in some way and many are unable to be released into the wild. Volunteer Michelle Andre, wearing a long leather glove to protect from the birds’ sharp talons, deftly handled her specimens.

“We are all volunteers, we don’t get paid,” she explained. “We do this because we love the birds.”

In the afternoon, the campers continued their education about birds of prey by dissecting owl pellets. Because owls don’t chew their food, the soft portion of their prey is digested and the harder materials such as bone, fur and hair congeal into a mass and are regurgitated.

Please visit our website for more information on Marsh summer camps and community education programs.

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