A Summer Camp for Nature Freaks and Much More

by Sovidias

I am always on the look out for useful summer programs, and that is how I stumbled across “The Green House”.

This award winning sustainable learning center offers workshops for parents and kids as well as programs for school classes, which cover everything that has to do with (especially urban, since they are close to downtown Honolulu) green living. Very hands-on, topics such as gardening/composting, arts and crafts with natural and recycled materials, and renewable energy are covered. Centers and organizations like this are a valuable source for supporting educational institutions in teaching environmental topics.

A Word on Organic Waste

The summer program and workshops take place in a garden filled with fruit trees, herbs, and plants, which are home to all sort of little critters. Compost piles and worm bins offer hands-on learning how to easily avoid organic trash in our landfills. According to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), organic waste represents about two thirds of our municipal solid waste (or short, garbage). The major part of the organic waste consists of food scraps (14%), yard waste (14%), and paper and paperboard products (29%). Besides the issue of bad odor and unsanitary nature of food scraps, another negative result is the production of the greenhouse gas methane during decomposing. Unlike composting, this process is anaerobic (takes place with little to no oxygen present) accounting for an at least estimated 20% of methane release caused by humans.

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Gardening and Garden Critters

In their first week of the Eco Explorer Camp the kids learned about all different sorts of creatures they found in the garden. While looking for Monarch Butterfly eggs, observing caterpillars on crown flower leaves, looking for chrysalis and watching butterflies sucking nectar, they got up close to pollination and metamorphosis. And I mean really close as they got the chance to watch the process of pupating - they got to bring home a caterpillar (with food supply and care instructions) to watch the whole transformation. They weeded and planted their own tomatoes, kale, sunflower, etc.

Crown flower where caterpillars are found
Crown flower where caterpillars are f...
Sovidias
Shortly before becoming a chrysalis
Shortly before becoming a chrysalis
Sovidias
Chrysalis rigth after transformation
Chrysalis rigth after transformation
Sovidias
From Chrysalis to Butterfly
From Chrysalis to Butterfly
 
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Priceless
 
Fresh apple bananas
Fresh apple bananas
Sovidias
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Compost Bins and Green Arts & Crafts

Part of every day’s routine was looking after the already mentioned worm bins. Paper was ripped into small pieces, egg shells crushed, small wood pieces, garden clippings, and food scraps collected. They harvested and tasted something homegrown on a daily basis like sugar cane, papayas, bananas, tomatoes, honey. From the leaves of the holy basil leaves and blossom they brewed their own delicious Tulsi tea. It is rich in antioxidants and supports the body’s defense system. Harvesting different things with their own hands is the perfect opportunity to get kids into trying new healthy food.

In arts and crafts, they learned how to reuse crayons, separating the wax part from the peel. Out of the colorful wax sticks they molded new shapes like “crayon cookies” and the different colors of the peels are going to be used as dye for paper making process.

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What's Next

All this happened in just one week and the kids, though pleasantly exhausted every day, are already looking forward to what they will explore next. More topics to be covered will be renewable energy, how to build a solar oven, paper making, and much more. All in all, it is a great program, which I really recommend for getting kids into nature.

Updated: 06/27/2012, Sovidias
 
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Sovidias on 06/27/2012

Thanks, katiem2 for posting such nice comments about my articles. What coincidence - I just published another article this moment!

katiem2 on 06/27/2012

Oh WOW this is amazing. Both my daughters are nature freaks and would love a camping experience like this. Thank you for bringing summer camp for nature freaks to our attention. I dream of getting to Hawaii, I'll just have to look for such resources at our Parks Office.

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