BATAVIA – Eyes flew wide open. Jaws dropped. Groans followed.
Clermont County Park District Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall took children on a nature hike June 27 to teach how to track various animals at Sycamore Park during this week’s Junior Naturalist Day Camp.
A common method is to identify their scat. Or – in layman’s terms – poop. She said taste is one way to tell what droppings are what and proceeded to demonstrate.
Only it was a trick. Marshall smeared her hands with a candy bar, which is what she really ate. But she definitely earned campers’ attention with the trick.
“You really can tell what kind of animals are around by looking at their scat,” Marshall said. “No, you’d never eat it, but the reactions are priceless when I pretend to.”
Campers ages 8 to 10 spend the week learning about a variety of topics naturalists encounter on a regular basis – fossils, animals, plant life and water quality. They use nature journals to record their observations and receive keys – miniature field guides – for future reference as they continue exploring beyond camp.
The last day of Junior Naturalist Day Camp features a fun review of what they learned in the form a park-wide scavenger hunt.
One former camper – now 15 years old – came back for the second straight summer to volunteer with the naturalists. Her younger sister is a current camper.
“I think it’s just really important that we educate our students on preservation of wildlife so they can grow up caring and learning about it,” she said. “They can take our place as we grow older.”
Next up in the Park District’s summer camp series will be the Outdoor Survival Camp for ages 10 to 13. It runs July 9 to 13 at Chilo Lock 34 Park with a $60 fee that includes outdoor survival skills like reading a compass, shelter building, edible plant identification, fire building, knot tying and more.
Campers test their nocturnal acumen during a night hike, cook dinner over a campfire and sleep under the stars during an overnight campout. Camp concludes Friday morning with donuts and orange juice.
For more information, please call Marshall at 513-240-2615.
Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.