2006-08-03 / News

Kids learn by experience at Jamestown Bay Camp

By Sam Bari

Kids start their camp day with some exercise like this lively game of tag. Photo by Michaela Kennedy Kids start their camp day with some exercise like this lively game of tag. Photo by Michaela Kennedy "I like it because it's fun and I'm learning a lot," said Jamestowner John Chamberlain, 8, about the Jamestown Bay Camp summer program for children from first to fourth grade. "We get to go in the water and explore the beaches for crabs, fish, snails and other stuff," he added.

"And I like it because I learned a new way to play tag," said Libby Hemp, also 8, a Jamestown summer resident from Boston.

And that's what the Jamestown Bay Camp is all about - learning, exploring, playing games, and having fun. The camp is made possible through collaboration between Save The Bay, the Jamestown Education Foundation, and the Jamestown Community Fund in cooperation with the Jamestown recreation department. Children can attend for $50 for four once-a-week classes.

The primary focus of learning is on Narragansett Bay and its many habitats, hosting a variety of wildlife. Attendees learn about the delicate environment and ecological issues facing the creatures as well as human inhabitants of the watershed, Rhode Island's most important natural resource.

The first of the two sessions of the 2006 program ran the entire month of July. The second will run throughout August. The minimum number of children supervised by two instructors per class is 10 and the maximum is 25.

Save The Bay Director of Education Russell Hirschler, designed the camp programs to elevate the awareness and educate children about the importance of the ecology, biology, and history of the bay as well as the complex issues affecting its survival. "If all works as planned, we will inspire children to care and want to save the bay," Hirschler said. "Our children are the future of our most valuable resource," he added.

Miriam Krause, a Save The Bay environmental educator explained the activities for the August 1 class of the second summer session at Fort Getty. "Today we'll explore four habitats in the

area, the rocky and sandy beaches, an eel grass bed, and a salt marsh," she said. "The kids will find sea stars and mussels on the rocky beaches, and hermit crabs and periwinkles on the sandy beaches. In the eel grass beds baby fish, scallops and other critters are in abundance. Avariety of water fowl, crabs and fish reside in the salt marsh," she said. She continued to say that "the kids will explore the habitats, see what lives there, and draw pictures of what they saw. That helps them to better remember their experience." Krause, 24, has a degree in

childhood education from the University of Indiana, Pennsylvania. She studied the environment and ecology through education programs at Save the Bay.

Tom Driscoll, the other instructor for the first class of the session said, "doing things first hand is very important. It's so much better than learning information from books. The kids have the opportunity to see live animals in their natural environment. They learn through self-discovery. They see, they touch, they interact. As teachers, we often ask more questions than we answer. We help the children figure things out for themselves. The Socratic method of teaching gives them a real sense of accomplishment, and they enjoy the many challenges of understanding the wildlife and habitats they have never seen before. The program clearly demonstrates the difference between a hands-on learning experience and a classroom where they are given second-hand information," he said.

Driscoll, 21, is a senior at Vassar College, where he is earning degrees in history and secondary education. He learned about the environment from his father, who is a science teacher, and from the education staff at Save The Bay.

The Aug. 8 class will study interesting invertebrates, by observing and collecting specimens. The students will study how they differ from vertebrates.

The Aug. 15 class will focus on birds of the bay. The students will use binoculars to "spy" on the birds of Fort Getty.

The Aug. 22 and final class of the second summer session will feature eelgrass exploration. From plankton to scallops and crabs, students will learn what and who lives in an eelgrass bed.

The mission of Save The Bay is to ensure that the environmental quality of Narragansett Bay and its watershed is restored and protected from the harmful effects of human activity. Save The Bay seeks carefully planned use of the bay and its watershed to allow the natural system to function normally and healthfully, both now and for the future.

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