Environmentally minded: AWC invites campers to embrace their wild side

Published 1:02 pm Thursday, July 16, 2015

Campers will get hands-on experience with the birds in the Alabama Wildlife Center's rehabilitation center. (Contributed)

Campers will get hands-on experience with the birds in the Alabama Wildlife Center’s rehabilitation center. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer 

PELHAM— Caring for birds of prey, digging in the dirt for insects and searching for hidden salamanders is all in a day’s work for campers at the Alabama Wildlife Center’s end-of-summer camp.

Fifteen students, grades one through six, will participate in this environmentally oriented day camp from July 20-24 from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. This is the Alabama Wildlife Center’s third annual day camp, and this year it is being run by Scottie Jackson, director of education and outreach.

“I love so many aspects of it,” Jackson said. “I always tell people I have the best job in the whole world. There is that moment where a child goes from coming in and then gains new knowledge. It’s in such a fun way that you know it’s going to stick with them.”

She said the idea of the camp is to create a fun and exciting combination of nature and rehabilitation. The rehabilitation component is what makes the wildlife center unique from other nature camps.

Each morning, the campers will head out to the Tree Top Nature Trail at Oak Mountain State Park and help care for the birds of prey there. Jackson said, under the supervision of camp facilitators, they will feed and water the birds, getting true hands-on experience.

Following the rehabilitation portion of camp, students will participate in the day’s themed activities. Monday will be fishing day where they will learn all about fish from how they are made to how they eat to how they live. Campers will also have a craft activity to correspond with the theme, so they will each create their own species of fish on Monday.

Jackson said the camp will feature a botany day, herpetology (the study of amphibians and reptiles) day, insect day and a day all about birds.

“We’re excited about the unique opportunity that the Alabama Wildlife Center can offer,” said executive director Doug Adair. “Not only do the students get to participate and get to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Oak Mountain State Park at Alabama Wildlife Center headquarters, (they also) participate in different themed activities each day and enjoy the unique opportunity up close and personal interaction with the birds of prey in our care.”

Tree top nature trail is a new addition to the camp this year, and Jackson said she thinks it will be a hit with the campers because it’s always popular with field trips and visitors.

The kids’ favorite part of the camp, she said, is being able to get out and play in the dirt. She said that so often people walk around outside just getting from point A to point B, but the campers will dig into the soil and see things in a different perspective.

“It’s kind of like a special surprise behind every corner,” Jackson said.

Camp hours are from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Students may be dropped off between 8 and 9 a.m. and can be picked up between 4 and 5 p.m. For more information about the Alabama Wildlife Center, visit Awrc.org.