AWC’s camp encourages kids to explore nature

The Alabama Wildlife Center’s end-of-summer "Back to School" camp allows students to discover all aspects of nature in Oak Mountain State Park. (Contributed)

The Alabama Wildlife Center’s end-of-summer “Back to School” camp allows students to discover all aspects of nature in Oak Mountain State Park. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer

PELHAM— The Alabama Wildlife Center is looking for students with an interest in animals and the outdoors for its annual summer camp. Nestled in Oak Mountain State Park, the AWC provides the perfect setting for exploring wildlife biology.

The AWC’s end-of-summer “Back to School” camp features an array of themes, from plants to mammals, for students to discover over the course of a week from July 25-29.

“The best thing about camp is really being able to see the kids have that ‘ah-ha’ moment when they get to experience nature in an immersive way,” said Scottie Jackson, director of education and outreach. “What we want to really get across at this camp is that being outside, playing outside, soaking up the sun and enjoying these natural wild spaces can be fun.”

Students entering grades one through six can participate. Each day begins at 8 a.m., with drop-off starting at 7:30 a.m., and ends at 4 p.m., with pick-up lasting until 5 p.m.

Each day will begin with the students hiking to the Treetop Nature Trail, so they can take care of the education birds that live there. In groups, the campers will feed, water and provide enrichment for the owls, hawks and vultures under adult supervision.

“The kids had a blast helping to take care of those birds last year, and they’ll get to this year,” Jackson said. “They will actually get to be ‘responsible’ for the care of the education birds that are down at the Treetop Nature Trail for the week. That will be their rehab chore.”

Students will head back to the center for lunch and spend the hottest part of the day inside playing games and watching a nature-themed video before jumping into the day’s theme.

Jackson said the day’s activities and crafts will center on the theme, and the campers will go out into the park to find which animals or plants they are studying.

“We want to touch on a lot of the different aspects of what is going on in the Alabama ecosystem,” Jackson said. “The best way, in all aspects of nature, the best way to study is to go out and actually get your hands dirty.”

Monday’s theme is fish, Tuesday is mammals, reptiles and amphibians are Wednesday’s theme and Thursday’s focus is plants. Friday will be all about birds, and Jackson said they will host a Birds of Prey program with the AWC’s educational raptors.

The camp fee is $180 for AWC members and $195 for non-members, which also includes park entrance fees. Campers must bring their own lunches and a reusable water bottle, and snacks will be provided.

For more information or to register, contact Jackson at sjackson@awrc.org or call 205-663-7930 ext. 4. You may also register online at Awrc.org/Camp%20Programs.

“The kids seem to really enjoy it a whole lot and we had a lot of fun,” Jackson said. “We felt like we had a good flow throughout the day, and we are excited to continue on with some of our themes and add some new stuff as we go.”