As much as Delia Lister, PSU Nature Reach director, knows about attracting and educating children about various things in nature, she also has a trick to make those same children disappear.
As she was going through, identifying and releasing the insects the children had collected, she finally got to the stink bug, letting it fly off. But before the bug could fly off, the children did first, racing away from the table in fear of the stink.
“It’s going to make us stink for the rest of our lives!” shouted one child.
That was just one of the lighter moments from the Pittsburg State Nature Reach day camp being held this week at the Pittsburg State Natural History Preserve, southwest of Pittsburg.
“I hope the kids can take away an appreciation of nature and learn,” Lister said. “I want to make sure they get over any fears they may have of bugs and snakes.”
Wednesday’s activities kept the children moving throughout the morning. First, there was a short insect program, followed by a half-hour of collecting insects around the preserve. Next, the children made wax candles out of beeswax before a snack — peanut butter and honey sandwiches — that was also bee-themed. After that, the group made “moth broth,” a banana-brown sugar mix designed to be smeared on a tree to attract moths at night. Then the group made bits of art using leaves before learning about bioluminescence.
“We don’t sit for one activity for very long. We want it to be a different experience from school. We get to do things they probably don’t get to do during the year,” Lister said.
This is the second session of the summer camp, and intended for children who just finished or are entering second grade. Each day this week has its own theme, with Monday being about birds and Tuesday about plants. Wednesday’s theme was, of course, insects, and today will focus on mammals. Friday will be about amphibians and reptiles.
“It usually takes me a couple of weeks of putting it together while I’m working on all the other stuff I do. This [session] is a little easier, because they’re brand new to it. The other kids, I’ve had before. This is the first time, though, that I’ve had siblings,” Lister said. “Emma [Eckstein]’s sister was in the camp, and her mom said she’s just been dying to come this year.”