Today, April 22, 2070, is the 100th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day. It is proper upon these occasions to consider our progress for this past century.
In the first few decades after that first Earth Day in 1970, there were some battles won – cleaner air and water, CDCs were banned, lands were protected – but the pressures and challenges of population growth were too great. The Earth warmed, the seas rose, water became scarce.
Midway through this hundred year span, though, things started to change. Many factors seemed to come together almost simultaneously. By 2020, everyone on the planet was connected. Universal and instantaneous translation software created a virtual globe without borders. Medical technology gave us thirty more years of healthy living. It seemed completely reasonable when President Colbert signed the order raising the retirement age to 85 in 2028.
Perhaps it was those extra years that gave us a greater appreciation for the need to care for our planet. We selected leaders who sought long-term solutions and we started to work together. We built new homes away from rising seas, we switched to renewable energies, we learned to grow our food cleanly, we protected our lands and watersheds and we continue to work on cleaning up what remains.
A hundred years have passed since that first glimmering of awareness and we did not fail. It got worse before it got better and we still have a way to go, but our species no longer threatens our own existence.
My grandsons (Aiden and Isaac, ages 5 and (almost) 7) were asked to go hiking. What do they pack? Magnifying glass, notepad and pencil! These guys don’t hike, they explore!
Have you ever thought about the difference between hiking and exploring?
To me, exploring means observing and wondering about what is around you, while hiking is more about letting the magic of the great outdoors soak in.
Hiking is great and letting the great outdoors sink in is, to me anyway, as important as breathing!
Exploring, though, is all about asking questions: why is that tree so different? what kind of bird is that? why is that hill there? what’s on the other side of that pond? what kind of animal poop is this? (a favorite with the boys). Once the questions are out there, it is natural to make guesses, discuss the possibilities with others, research what others have learned and make some conclusions. This is, of course, scientific method.
It is an invaluable skill for people to learn. The Scientific Method is not as much a way to answer scientific questions as it is a method of answering any question scientifically.
The Ka’u Preserve consists of four parcels of land adjacent to the Ka’u Forest Preserve, which is State-owned forest reserve lands. The Ka’u forest is the largest and most intact native forest in Hawaii. Many rare plants and birds still survive in this forest. The forest itself features ‘ōhi‘a and koa trees which provide a canopy for the lush native understory.
In his presentation, Mr. Replogle presented the goals of TNC (The Nature Conservancy) in the Ka’u Preserve, and discussed the various programs they are carrying out to achieve those goals.
Most of TNC’s efforts are focused on controlling feral animals and invasive plant species. Controlling the pigs and goats that are the forest’s biggest threat consists mostly of the very difficult work of putting up fencing through very dense forest undergrowth.
Once fences are in place, though, the effect is dramatic, as these images illustrate:
This image illustrates how quickly the forest can recover once feral pigs have been fenced out.
This image shows the effect of a fence built to keep out feral goats on Molokai.
Also just a short distance from camp is Kamekame Beach. TNC purchased this land in 2002 in order to protect the endangered Hawksbill Turtle (hanu`ea) for whom this beach is the single most important nesting site in the U.S. Together with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, TNC operates a volunteer turtle monitoring program to protect the nests from invasive predators such as rats and mongooses.
At Science Camp this summer, campers will have the chance to learn first-hand about the plants and animals that make up these habitats, about the methods used to protect them, about the scientists, environmentalists, naturalists, and volunteers who do this important work, and to participate in that work.
Sure, campers at Science Camp are going to learn a lot about science and of course they are going to have fun. But what else can be expected from the summer camp experience?
Camp is a venue for:
Inviting exploration and play
Providing physical and emotional support
Focusing on collaboration and teamwork
Trying new things
Teaching and valuing self-reliance and resourcefulness
Encouraging manageable risk
In a nutshell, camp is an environment where young adults can really grow. At the American Camp Association (ACA) Annual National Conference earlier this month, it was great to learn more of the ways that camp leaders can facilitate the experiences that contribute to this.
It is good to see that across the United States more and more school systems are starting to realize that schools, too, need to provide such an environment. An emphasis on test results is not the answer and is actually toxic to an environment that is trying to develop the character traits outlined above.
Professional educators are starting to understand that camp has been such an environment for over 150 years, and that camps, and camp leaders, have a lot to bring to the table. And camps and camp leaders are starting to realize that they have a lot to offer. Unfortunately, camps have not been good at collecting and sharing data, and educational folks generally love lots and lots of data. That is starting to change, thanks to efforts by the ACA, and a growing realization among camp leaders how important it is to have that data.
I believe that when camps start to provide data for studies that educators can read and respect, lights are going to go on. Educators will see the tools they need to help provide the right environment, and camps will see how important their work is to youth development and how important it is to expand the reach of camp.
Throw in some nature and you’ve got a winning recipe.
We are officially open! The Science Camps of America web site is now up and ready to help campers, parents and anyone who would like to help send teens to science camp. Take a look at http://ScienceCampsAmerica.com.
Science Camp will be held on the Big Island of Hawaii. The first session, Land and Sea, is from June 22-July 1, the second, Air and Space is from July 1-10. The camp will be hosted at Pahala Plantation Cottages. We have space for about 36 teens each session.
Here is some of what you can do on the web site:
* Learn about our summer science camps for teens * Register for camp * Make a donation (thank you!) * Apply for a job or volunteer * Contact us about becoming a sponsor * Learn how you can offer a scholarship * Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and WordPress * Enjoy the pictures * Connect to this blog
What is a typical day at science camp like? Here is a sample:
7:00 am: Wake up shortly after sunrise, go outside and spend a few minutes enjoying the sunshine.
7:30 am: Off to breakfast – short five minute walk to the ‘Plantation House’ – banana pancakes on the veranda – yum!
8:30 am: Back to the cottage for clean up and to pack for today’s filed trip, Kilauea Volcano.
9:30 am: Gather at the vans, pile in – here we go!
10:00 am: Arrive at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The resident geologist gives us a presentation about the facility and its history and talks about what they do at the observatory, including what they do when the volcano does something spectacular. On to the Jaggar Museum to spend some time at the lookout over Kilauea Caldera.
Noon: After eating lunch in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, we are walking through Thurston Lava Tube, learning how important lava tubes are to a Hawaiian-type volcano. Amazing to walk through one!
2:00 pm: Hiking the Ka’u Desert Trail. What a weird place. Saw footprints more than 200 years old preserved in ash.
4:00 pm: Back at camp. This is rec hour. One of the counselors is really good at photography and today she’s taking a group of us out on a photography walk.
5:30 pm: Kitchen Duty today, so I’m at the Plantation House early.
7:30 pm: Showing a film about Kilauea eruptions between 1955 and 1960. Those old guys took some chances!
8:00 pm: Surprise trip up to Kilauea volcano. Standing at the lookout watching the glow coming from Halema’uma’u Crater. Awesome! And the night sky is incredible.
When this blog was started along with our dream of opening Science Camps of America fifteen months ago, the byline posted at the top of this page was “If you build it, they will come.” I wrote about this at that time (Field of Dreams and Our Temporary Byline).
Today, that byline was changed to our new motto: “What do YOU dream of?”
Our goal is to nurture our campers’ existing dreams, and trigger new dreams. Campers will discover new directions, imagine new ideas, and uncover new possibilities. Dreams can come true, but they need help: knowledge, hard work, and most of all, the help of others. At Science Camps of America, we will strive to do whatever we can to help our campers’ dreams take flight.
“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”