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Eco-Adventures day camp teaches kids about nature

We all scream for ice cream, according to the popular song. But, youngsters at Hickory Hill were chirping last week.

"We had frozen treats; they were chocolate crickets. They were really good. They had sprinkles on them, so you couldn't tell they were crickets," said Caylin Gutierreo, 9, of Harlem.

Educator Sydney Peden said the snack wasn't intended to be frozen, but she had to keep the crickets chilled so the chocolate wouldn't melt in the summer heat.

Caylin was one of a dozen children who attended Eco-Adventures Day Camp in Thomson. Each day, campers learned about their environment through activities such as gardening, water testing, bird hiking and cooking over an open fire.

Although the agenda could be a list of farmer's chores, the camp program was right up a kid's alley.

"We built mini beaver dams for a contest. It was fun," said Caitlin Simmons, 10, of Hephzibah. "Our team won."

Caitlin explained the winning dam was the one that could remain intact after being flooded with buckets of water.

"Bird hiking was my favorite," declared Dalton Sapp, 10, of Hephzibah. "It was a good experience. I learned about the eagle and the red tail hawk."

Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary specialist Paul Koehler lead the bird hike. The children saw and identified 21 species of birds, including cardinals, blue jays, red tail hawk, mourning doves, mocking birds, Eastern towhee, Canada flycatcher, American robins, American crows and several varieties of woodpeckers, in addition to some spiders and lizards that made it on their checklist. They also learned to recognize the calls of the various birds.

"I liked the animal guy the best," said Trevor Herrington, 13, of Thomson, referring to Sean Poppy, of the Savannah River Ecology Lab. "I got to hold snakes, alligators and a possum. I learned the baby possums are carried in the mother's pouch."

The campers began each day by picking harvest from the Watson-Brown Foundation's garden at Hickory Hill. Harvesting was the favorite activity of 13-year-old Kellie Crawley, also of Thomson. Kellie said the Watson-Brown garden had "a lot more different stuff" than her garden at home, including peppers, gourds and pumpkins. But the experience didn't stop at picking the produce.

"We made pickles," Caitlin said. "It was fun and they tasted good, much better than in the store. I put peppers in mine, so mine were spicy."

The next Eco-Adventures Camp will be from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday, July 12 through Friday, July 16. The camp is for children ages 10-16 years, and costs $60 for the week. Registration is limited. Contact Hickory Hill at 706-595-7777 or Sydney Peden at for information.

Web posted on Thursday, July 08, 2010

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