Monday, June 7, 2010

Birds, Blooms, Bugs, and Beasts

Today was our annual 4-H day camp.  We have been preparing for months, and I must admit that it was the strangest one I have helped with yet.  We were expecting it to be a little over 90 degrees today--which was not unusual.  But with no rain in the forecast, I awoke at 4:00 this morning to thunder and lightening.  We received about 6/10 of desperately needed moisture at our place, and around an inch in town at the fairgrounds, where day camp was being held.  We arrived and found the concrete area that our first speaker would be using to be under water.  After trying to sweep much of it off, with more coming down, we changed gears and moved that lesson inside.  We had around 55 kids (aged 1st-5th grade) with another 15 or so junior high and high school kids coming to be counselors. The day went pretty smoothly with only a few last minute changes in our plan.  The first activity of the day was dividing the group into 2 smaller groups.  They split and got the opportunity to hear a very smart lady show them LOTS of wildflowers that we see in our area--she picked them all last night--and she found lots more blooming than I have noticed! 
The second speaker was a snake expert.  He had a bullsnake that he messed with while talking to the kids.  But the ultimate highlight of the day was this. . .He fed the snake for each group.  He brought dead mice. .and the kids (and adults) were hooked!! The above picture shows the snake just starting in on the mouse.  But notice the expressions on the faces of those campers as they watch the snake finish the mouse off!! ICK!!
Then we divided the groups into 4 small groups--the Songbirds, Sunflowers, Lizards, and Grasshoppers--and sent them to different activities. 
The "blooms" class had a cool little discussion on the different parts of a plant and how food is categorized according to each part.  Then they made topsy-turvy tomato planters using 2 liter pop bottles.  Very clever idea found by one of the planners.  She cut off the bottom 1/3 of the bottle and punched holes in it. After putting the tomato into the bottle, with the plant poking out of the bottle neck, they put the bottom of the bottle in, backwards, to seal it up and provide a place for the kids to water it.  Can't wait to see if Dev can keep his alive.
The "beast" class was an archery class--simply because the kids LOVE that and and look forward to it every year! (I was tied down and wasn't able to get pictures of that!)
The "bug" class enjoyed looking at different bug specimens in an entomology box.
Then they made "ants on a log" (they always love messing with food and making snacks).  Finally, they played a game that had them blindfolded.  They were given straws to use as "antenae" and had to try to guess what different objects were, just like a bug. They thought that was a little hard.

The "bird" class was my "baby" and has kept me busy for the last few weeks.  I taught myself how to use powerpoint as I fixed slides on 15 birds that we see here frequently.  We looked at their pictures, learned how to identify them and then talked about some "cool-bird" facts that related to each one.  They were particularly impressed to learn that some bird species throw up and feed their babies puke (not exactly . .PUKE, but you know!!)
Next, we made pinecone bird feeders by slathering pinecones with peanut butter and rolling them in bird seed.  It was messy, but they all enjoyed it.  D's are hung up in the little spruce trees waiting on some hungry little guy to find them!  Finally, we used binoculars to check out a poster that D helped me make last night, with pictures of birds, flowers, insects, and scenery.  I was tickled at the number of kids who got the binoculars and walked across the room to stand right in front of the poster to try them out, not realizing that the whole point was to be able to see things FAR AWAY!!
The rain didn't seem to dampen our enthusiasm too much, and at least it was cooler that way!!  We had upheavel at lunch as a huge cloud came rapidly and from nowhere bringing along a ferocious wind.  So we found ourselves RAPIDLY moving kids 100 yards from the lunch line into the protection of the school. Thankfully, that dissapated quickly and we were able to resume lunch and our day camp on schedule!  Both the big boys helped as junior counselors. I had to smile as they both talked about how rotten some of the kids acted--Know it all, won't listen, rude, blah. .blah. .blah!! I think it was a great lesson for all the older kids too!! 

So as another year of day camp closes out, I find myself counting down from one activity until the next, in rapid-fire succession, until about August!!  I will now make it through one project, before I can get on with the next.  Next project here. .State geology field trip this weekend.  We will travel to Altamont in southeast Kansas Friday.  Hunt rocks all day Saturday and Sunday, only to return home Sunday evening and repack our bags.  Monday morning the boys and I will head off to the western part of the state for 4-H camp, not returning until Wednesday.  I am looking forward to being the camp "nurse" again this year--and hope to continue the posting on my "Reflections from Camp Lakeside" that I started last year!  

We were SOOOOO glad to get rain last night. The blooms around here have been beautiful!! The Russian garden is about to be in full bloom, and I can't wait to snap a picture and show you how much it has grown in the short year that it has been here!!  The daisies are also making a spectacular display.  Wheat harvest will likely begin here this week--so we are certainly praying for great weather and safety for all the harvesters!! Wishing you all a great week! 


  1. What a good day. You've had a lot of hands on bird watching lately. Perfect for your bird class. Have fun keeping up with all the activities on your schedule.

  2. Thanks for all you do for the kids. My boys had fun, & hopefully, they weren't trouble for the counselors! I hope they catch some of my love of birds, too!

  3. My boys had a great time and I had to chuckle about the "rotten kids" remark. Jake said something along those lines too. Ah..sweet, sweet, revenge. J also said it felt strange to be a counselor and not a camper this year.
    You've sure sparked some bird interest with him. He's out to identify all the birds in our yard.
    Thanks for a wonderful camp to you and everyone else who planned!

  4. I just love when my boys have to deal with kids that act just like them and get to experience the frustration that I have with them. However, they haven't gotten to experience this enough to make them change their own ways. I am still hoping, though.

    Sounds like you had a great day and I think I experienced your rainstorm on my way in to work this morning.


  5. The camp sounded really interesting - but I sure wouldn't want to see a snake eat a mouse. Yuck! I'm curious what's in your "Russian garden." :)