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Discover the Magic of Nature Camps

By: Wendy Irwin, Youth Education Coordinator | 09/11/2018

Summer at Idaho Botanical Garden means many things, from concerts, to weddings, to quiet moments spent at shaded picnic tables.

For the Youth Education Staff at the Garden, summer means camp season. During five weeks in July and August, backpack-clad children ages 4-9 meander up the entrance path beyond the front gates and make their way to a small, sage-green building with the word “Classroom” printed on one door. The label is misleading; the green, growing space outside is the real classroom. Every weekday brings a new exploration, whether it is dipping nets in the pond to catch a glimpse of local aquatic life, or harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers from the vegetable garden to make a mid-morning snack.

The architects of 2018’s camp adventures were Garden Teachers Amy Post and Erika Petzinger. Amy brings with her a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education and many years of experience working in the field. This is Amy’s second year with Idaho Botanical Garden. One of Amy’s favorite teaching moments of 2018 happened during Muggles and Mysteries Camp (a.k.a. “Magic Camp”). “(I did) an activity about the Stonehenge hill (at the bottom of the Garden). We walked through it, and I showed the kids some pictures of the real Stonehenge, some other standing stones and standing stone circles. I told them one of the legends of a standing stone in Scotland. Then I had them come up with a legend for the IBG stones, which I wrote up for the Magic Bulletin (the daily wizarding newspaper).”

Erika is a student at Boise State University and first-year Garden Teacher. When asked what she was most proud of this season, she responded, “I was proud when my campers went home and told their parents what they learned.”
To our Garden Teachers, Amy and Erika, thank you for all your hard work and creativity this year. To our other newsletter readers, I hope you never lose sight of the magic that can be found when you spend time in nature.
I will leave you with the story written by Amy and her campers:

The Legend of IBG’s Menhir Hill
Long ago, goblins lived where the Idaho Botanical Garden grows today. The goblins lived in a cave located where IBG’s classroom now stands. These particular goblins worked at a wizarding bank in Boise, ID called Bingbots. Although they were hard workers and loved counting money, these goblins also had a playful side. They loved being in nature, and particularly loved spending time near and in the Boise River. As all witches and wizards know, goblins cannot be exposed to sunlight, or they will be turned to stone. Early one morning in spring time, after their banking shift at Bingbots, the goblins who lived in the IBG cave decided to visit the Boise River. They took some inner-tubes and jumped in! They enjoyed themselves as they floated the river. In fact, they enjoyed themselves a little too much and lost track of time. They were hurrying home in order to get to their cave before sunrise. But alas, they had spent too much time on the river. Just as they crested a hill and could see their cave in the distance, the sun rose. As soon as the sunshine hit the goblins, they were all turned to stone. The goblins remain on the hill to this day.