Summer is around the corner, and it’s time to begin thinking about summer camp for the kiddos. There are hundreds of camps in the Atlanta area, so selecting one can be daunting. I’m sending my oldest to Camp Kingfisher this year. It will be his first time at camp with Chattahoochee Nature Center, but not his first time in one of their programs. We are card-carrying members at CNC and visit on a regular basis. I just know he’s going to love it!
The camp program at CNC includes all of the ingredients that make the perfect summer camp experience. What are those experiences? So glad you asked!
Nothing says “summer camp” like a kid in a canoe! And what a life-changing experience; in fact, I can even remember my first experience and how I fell in love with the water. Kiddos K-3 ride in canoes with volunteers and staff members who have been trained by the American Canoe Association. 2nd and 3rd graders sit in the back of the canoe and learn to steer, and rising 3rd and 4th graders canoe without an adult in the boat, learning to maneuver against and with the current. By 6th/7th grade campers are canoeing down the Chattahoochee to the cliffs and winding back through the quiet wetlands, and the older campers take a trip into mild rapids.
Just a side note, here. Hubby and I once did a fall-color date night canoeing experience with the nature center, and it was magical. CNC regularly offers guided canoe trips, which allow children as young as six to participate. If you’re family is not participating in camp (or even if you are!) the canoeing expeditions at CNC are a fun summertime activity.
Do you remember being a kid, with no TV, no iPad, no fancy toys…just dirt and mud and limbs and rocks?? It’s old school play, and there’s nothing like it! At Camp Kingfisher there is plenty of time for learning by exploring, digging in the dirt, and jumping from boulder to boulder. Campers will take hikes along the myriad trails and learn how to safely roll logs to see the critters huddled underneath. They will experience supervised free-play in the woods – digging in the dirt, jumping across the rocks, and playing tag among the trees. As a parent, I find it nostalgic…and I hope that when my son comes home to Minecraft and Pokemon, he remembers those moments in the forest with his friends.
If you’ve visited Chattahoochee Nature Center, you might not be aware that there is a pool. It’s not for everyone…just for special events like summer camp. Campers swim in the Jr Olympic size pool everyday…there are toys and games and tons of free play opportunities. Counselors are in the pool with the kids, and two additional lifeguards are on duty. The younger kids will usually don a lifejacket while playing, and stay in the shallow water. At about 2nd/3rd grade kids begin to demonstrate stronger swimming abilities, and they can try a Deep End Test, which will allow them to move to the deeper end of the pool without a jacket. It might take a few tries to pass it…many campers use summer as a time to work up to it, and when they do – wow! What an awesome accomplishment!
Beginning with rising 4th and 5th graders, campers can stay overnight! Once the other campers have headed home, overnighters splash in the pool again. Then they will help prepare a cook-out dinner, and clean up as a team. They’ll play group games and head out for a night hike, where they use all their senses to explore the forest.
Another side note. Whether your kiddo is in camp or not, you can experience Night Hikes at CNC, and new this year for non-camp families, you camp out at the nature center. Mark your calendar for June 16, July 7 or July 24. I’ll be posting more about this on Facebook, so stay tuned!
Campers will love the adventure with live animals. Snakes, box turtles or a gopher tortoise – a keystone species native to southern Georgia. Kiddos experience four structured educational encounters with animals during Camp Kingfisher; three of those are one-on-one times meetings with a counselor. And don’t forget the birds of prey at CNC – eagles and hawks – and the beaver!
Being Part of a Team
When kids are working together in teams, they learn to value of being called into something bigger than themselves, while also gaining valuable insight about their self-worth and contributions. The groups at Camp Kingfisher really emphasize team building by keeping campers in the same group for their 1-2 week camp experience. Counselors help kids come up with hilarious group names, like the Harry Otters (think Harry Potter,) the Mighty Minions, and the Bodacious Beavers. They also paint signs, create flags and work together to brand their team. Within the groups they take on team challenges, solve problems…and act silly, too, like kids should do, with camp songs and fun games. In the end, they learn the value of a team, the power of contribution, and they build friendships they will remember well past summer camp.
Do you remember your camp counselor? I do! These are the people that usually make the biggest influence on your kiddos…the ones that are truly investing in your kid….the ones your child will remember. They may not remember their name in 3 or 5 years, but they will remember the feeling that counselor gave them. They will remember being pointed in the right direction, and being influenced by an older, positive roll model.
Camp counselors are usually not quite as old as parents, but they are older than the kids…so campers tend to identify with them. Most counselors at CNC are college freshmen or older; some have even graduated already and they are teachers during the school year. They are all CPR certified and attend a seven day training course on being a naturalist, youth development, safety and more. Many of them are returning as counselors after attending camp with CNC when they were children. In fact, Camp Kingfisher’s assistance camp director has been with part of the summer camp experience since she was 5 years old!
There you go! Seven reasons to register your kid for camp….seven experiences that will enrich their lives during the summer….and in my opinion, seven reasons to check out Camp Kingfisher at Chattahoochee Nature Center.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the Chattahoochee Nature Center. I adore and respect the nature center so much. We’ve been members for years. We regularly attend programs there. We love the staff. I honestly believe it is one of the best places in the city for families. I am thankful and honored to be working with them and sharing their programs with you.