Campers learn to be caretakers of nature

“Take only memories, leave nothing but footprints” was the slogan of Montevallo’s Nature Camp, but there was an exception to that rule.

Visitors to Orr Park were recently surprised and delighted to find wonderful color sketches of Indian symbols covering the sidewalk along the creek, a gift left by the 24 elementary-age boys and girls who attended the camp.

The children painted the sidewalks as they were finishing up a week of exciting activities, which, according to the camp literature, “enabling them to be confident and comfortable outdoors in the hope that they will enjoy, preserve, save and explore their outdoor world.”

The camp day began at 8:30 a.m. and was filled with hiking, canoeing, arts and crafts, music, a visit to Oak Mountain’s wildlife center, storytelling, birding, and learning about conservation, erosion, using native plants, the weather and tracking animals.

The emphasis this year was on the Native American culture. Participants were divided into four tribes of six children who represented various aspects of the earth and their significance in the Native American history and culture. The tribes were Turtles, Beavers, 4 Winds and Eagles.

“What I loved about the camp,” said Linda Cicero, the project coordinator, “was the dedication and enthusiasm of the adults and counselors and how contagious it became and how that, more than anything, effected all the children did.”

Each child who completed the week carried home their T-shirt, bandana, beadwork, crafts, tote bag, bird box, three books, a subscription to NWF Ranger Rick magazine, and a pair of binoculars. More importantly, they went home with an expanded knowledge, love, and concern for the outdoors.

Campers were Jacob Cleckly, Mary Cassidy, Vanessa Avalos, Samantha Howard, Caroline Landers, Hugo Ponce, Amanda Buttgereit, and Micah Layton. Others were Price Alexander, Declan Nichols, Shannon Curl, Drew Hiltenbruner, Gracie Davis, McKenzie Hamby, Josh Howard and Christopher Villa Perez. Also enjoying the experience were Dyson Edwards, Clay Colley, Kate Frederick, Morgan Sanders, Avery Lawley, Chasity Brantley, Adam Jones, and Abigail Shimel.

Cicero and Sheila Jett, who directed the camp, were assisted by more than 25 nature-loving adults and several local middle school students served as counselors. Financial support came from the Parnell Memorial Library Foundation and from friends and parents. Several agencies, schools, clubs and departments of the city and the University of Montevallo partnered in the project.

To learn more about the annual nature camp, contact Linda Cicero at 665-1862.

Catherine Legg can be reached at clegg2@bellsouth.net.