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News from Nature Camp

It has been an exciting fall, winter, and spring for Nature Camp, and while the buildings, grounds, and vegetation of the Big Mary’s Creek valley have largely lain dormant, much has been happening. Who ever would have thought that Nature Camp business would take me to Minnesota not once but twice in a three month span in 2019? In January I traveled to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center near the North Shore of Lake Superior for the biannual gathering of staff of Residential Environmental Learning Centers, sponsored by the Association of Nature Center Administrators. This stimulating conference with a wonderfully collegial and supportive group of educators, all driven by and devoted to a shared mission, covered topics such as risk management, inclusion, and ideas and best practices for staff training. This was all done using Open Space format, in which all participants are considered experts and all may share equally in the presentation and discussion of ideas. The weather was positively balmy with low temperatures about 25 degrees F below zero! Then in April I returned, this time to Camp Knutson, an amazing camp that provides programs for many groups of campers with special needs, for a week of training to become a certified instructor in Mental Health First Aid for Youth. The impetus for taking this course was to provide better training and preparation for our staff at Nature Camp, but I look forward to sharing the knowledge I have gained with other camp professionals and members of the local and regional community.

But wait, there is more! Thanks to the dedication of our Director of Publicity/Promotion, Stacy Luks, we have been working on an exciting new brochure, which we look forward to unveiling at Camp this summer (copies should be available at the Spring Service Weekend). We are also eagerly looking forward to having alumna Emily Montgomery with us this summer as our first-ever Artist in Residence; Emily, who is pursuing an MFA in poetry from the University of Alabama, will be onsite for parts of First and Second Sessions and will assist with classes, lead some activities during rec periods, present two evening programs, and work with campers on creative writing. We are also pleased to announce a new partnership with Island Press, a non-profit publishing company devoted to providing ideas and information to protect the environment and helping create solutions to complex problems. We are still exploring the possibilities for this partnership with an organization whose mission dovetails with our own and how it will manifest itself, but stay tuned for further developments and more announcements!

As this issue of the Afterglow goes to press, a handful of spaces remain available for both girls and boys in Third and Fourth Session!!