As summer draws to a close and school starts for another year, we have time to reflect on a fun-filled, educational summer camp season at The Parklands.
Over the past three months, 220 kids put down their iPads, turned off the television and strapped on their hiking boots for a summer full of adventure and outdoor education. Even if only for a few weeks, kids became gardeners, artists, biologists, entomologists, and creek explorers. They paddled Floyds Fork, created bug collections, painted water colors, took photographs, caught crawfish, and got dirty. They went home at the end of the day with a tired body, full mind, and an expanded curiosity about the natural world around them.
15 volunteers and 10 interpretive rangers helped facilitate these amazing experiences and gave kids a summer they won’t soon forget. With their multitude of knowledge and varied backgrounds, rangers and volunteers alike passed on their love of the park and the natural world. In Garden Keepers camp, kids learned how to grow juicy tomatoes. Art and Photography in the Park produced some spectacular pieces of art that kids showed off during an end of the week art show. Entomology camp saw kids create their own bug collection with the help of entomologist Russ McIntyre. Muckology camp provided an outlet to get down and dirty in the creek and Creek Explorers truly did explore Floyds Fork with the help of Canoe Kentucky.
In addition to our hugely popular summer camps, we partnered with organizations around Louisville to get kids outdoors. Thanks to the help of the Helmsley Charitable Trust and numerous other generous donors, 140 Boys and Girls Club students came to us from around the city. They spent a day in the park hiking, exploring the creek, catching crawfish, and seine netting all while learning about the importance of the Floyds Fork Watershed.
Photo by Ted Wathen
The Louisville Urban League sent 60 students to us. They spent two days hiking, wading in the creek, and discovering how science education translates directly into careers in parks and the outdoors. The Keystone Learning Academy brought 30 elementary students from inner city Louisville to The Parklands. We used experiential learning inside and outside of the classroom to incite curiosity and wonder about the natural world. None of this could have been possible without the generous support of the Helmsley Trust and our other donors. Thank you from all of us in the education department!
While summer may be over at the PNC Achievement Center, the summer camp spirit lives on. We can’t wait to begin fall field trip season to keep engaging Louisville’s youth in all The Parklands has to offer. To all the kids that attended this summer, keep exploring and we will see you next summer!
Click here to see more photos from our 2015 summer camps and field trips on Flickr.
About the Author
As Director of Education, Curtis Carman oversees The Parklands Outdoor Classroom, promoting STEAM-based education through engaging, hands-on learning both outdoors and inside the classroom. Each year, his team of Education Specialists, Interpretive Rangers and Camp Counselors guide nearly 20,000 participants of all ages through school field trips, camps, Parklands Explorer, Junior Explorer and Wednesday Wonders. Prior to his promotion to Education Director in May of 2018, Curtis first joined The Parklands team as an Interpretive Ranger and led the department as Education Coordinator for three years. A native of Louisville and a graduate of Ballard High School, Curtis returned to his hometown after having worked as an environmental educator in Maine and Colorado at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Curtis also served as Membership Manager at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Curtis enjoys hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.