Rediscovering Camp Discovery

Joanna Weitzel, Executive Director of Camp Discovery, explains to a nature class how suet is smeared on a tree to feed birds in the winter.

Joanna Weitzel, Executive Director of Camp Discovery, explains to a nature class how suet is smeared on a tree to feed birds in the winter.

BLYTHEWOOD – After 30 years of offering a traditional camp experience combined with academic, social and emotional enrichment opportunities, Camp Discovery has broadened its horizons, offering experiences in nature that provide enrichment opportunities far beyond anything done at the camp in the past – unique nature-based experiences for all ages, said Joanna Weitzel, Executive Director of the camp.

One of those unique experiences happened last weekend when the camp hosted, in partnership with the S.C. Wildlife Federation, one of 12 classes required for certification as a Midlands Master Naturalist. Instructed by Naturalist Austin Jenkins, the day for the 20 enrollees began in the camp’s classroom with hands-on activities that focused on the history of South Carolina’s woodlands. They then moved into the woods for field training. Each of the 12 sessions focuses on a different topic relevant to the geographic region (Midlands). Three of the classes for this group will be held at Camp Discovery.

Weitzel explained the program and its importance to the camp.

“The S.C. Master Naturalist Program,” she said, “is coordinated by Clemson University, and is a statewide corps of volunteers providing education, outreach and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. When Austin arrived and saw the camp, he was amazed at the opportunities it offers.”

Two other classes are scheduled at Camp Discovery this spring and summer. The program also offers a Junior Naturalist program. The next Junior Naturalist class, water ecology, designed for ages 8-12, is being offered at the camp on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. – noon, and space is still available, Weitzel said.

Below are other programs being offered at the camp throughout the year. Some can be signed up for now:

GNAT (Giving Nature a Try): This nature-based program gives preschool children and adults an opportunity to learn together in a safe, nurturing environment, opening the door to self-discovery, kindness and a respect for other living things. Two more classes are available for spring with new classes resuming in August. Sign up for individual programs or the season.

Earth Keepers Camp: Register now for this summer program that combines the best of science, nature, animals and outdoor exploration to bring out the “wild” in every child! Kids ages 6-12 comb the diverse habitats of Camp Discovery to learn about life, big and small, and why it calls Camp Discovery home. Four different weeks are available.

Discovery Days: The Camp’s most popular program will be getting a new look this fall. Discovery Days will be incorporating extensive, hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) based activities, focusing on the real-world application of the STEM disciplines for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Programs delve deeply into science, technology, engineering and math using experiential, hands-on activities in nature within a fun and discovery-based curriculum.

Learners to Leaders (L2L): What better way to grow than through experience? That’s what L2L is all about. Youth and young adults are provided meaningful service learning opportunities to support academic achievement, enhance outdoor learning and better communities. Students address a need, identify solutions and implement plans of action while gaining a better understanding of themselves. They explore and develop ways to apply classroom knowledge in a practical setting while contributing to their communities.

Tools for Life: Using hands-on and brain stimulating activities, participants are challenged think differently, communicate clearly, explore their individual strengths and learn how to work with others – all while having laughs and unexpected fun. By combining supportive recreation activities with structured experiential activities in a safe, emotional setting, the focus is placed on enhancing skills such as trust, team work, communication and positive self-concepts benefitting youth and adults.

Camp Discovery’s April 11 Open House will be held rain or shine and no reservations are required. Registrations are currently being accepted for GNAT’S, Earth Keepers Camp and for spring and fall school programs. For more information about the programs, visit www.campdiscoverysc.org.