Turtles, Snakes, and a Blue-tongued Skink

Turtles, Snakes, and a Blue-tongued Skink

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A lot of preparation goes into making sure Camp Chewonki is ready for the summer. Cabins are cleaned, lawns mowed, counselors hired. One of the most important parts of our pre-camp preparation is developing our activity curriculum and training our staff to teach in their area of expertise. As opening day approaches, archers, sailors, and tennis players practice their skills while potters and woodworkers make sample products to make sure we are offering opportunities for campers that are just right. One of the highlights of training was our Natural History rodeo where Doc Fred led a nature rove, Emma provided some tips on birding, and Tom the Birdman extolled the importance of developing our observation skills in nature.

Today, I had the pleasure of walking around to various activity areas to see how everyone was settling into their first period of the summer. It was immediately clear that all of our hard work was paying off. On the Lower Field, soccer players and frisbee throwers were getting a briefing on proper hydration from Evan before their warm-up run.

A lucky group was learning about reptiles by helping Emma and Dasha give our turtles, snake, and blue-tongued skink some outdoor enrichment time in the Orchard Field.

At the woodshop, Orville already had a bunch of gung-ho woodworkers using spokeshaves to round the shaft of their canoe paddles. Meanwhile, on the farm, I found Solomon moving pasture fences with the help of a couple of young farmers.

There are many wonderful things about Camp Chewonki, but the learning in a typical day is not limited to the activity blocks. At breakfast, we learned that the first early morning triple crown had been achieved. Someone had helped with farm chores, joined the bird walk, and ran down to the waterfront to take part in Polar Bears before the wake-up bell had rung. As I sat with Dasha, Emma, and their proteges, a small blur sped through the air past our heads. After some observation and a brief discussion, we ascertained that we were watching a tree swallow catching flies for its breakfast. Barely an hour earlier, at our own breakfast tables, Tom the Birdman had presented the bird of the day to the dining hall. Today’s bird? The tree swallow.