Campers meet Birds of Prey Face to Face!

redtailhawkBy Stephanie Rustem, Camp Assistant Director
Camp seems incomplete without kids running across the field or searching for fish in the lake.  On May 21, Camp Director Shaun McKeon and I welcomed 157 Chelsea first graders to Cedar Lake for the day.  Initially, the weather looked gloomy, but the first graders managed to bring along the sun.
As the students filed off the bus, their eyes widened at the sight of a real summer camp and they squealed with excitement in anticipation of the day’s activities.  Shaun gathered the students, their teachers, and chaperones around a stump next to The Lodge and described the six stations through which the students would rotate over the course of the morning: a game of predator-prey tag called “Oh Deer” on the field, a game of outdoor hide-and-seek called “Camouflage” near the Arts and Crafts shed, pond study at the lake, a nature hike along the lake, an animal-habitat matching game, and a Michigan skins and skulls station.  Parent and grandparent chaperones led the activities at each station while Shaun and I toured the stations and provided assistance as needed.
Around noon, we took a sack lunch break on the field.  After lunch, the first graders had the opportunity to “get out their wiggles” by playing a few rounds of “Spiders and Flies”, a predator-prey tag game, led by one of their teachers.  There’s nothing quite like watching 157 children scamper across a giant field while dodging taggers.
For the last two hours of their visit, David Clipner, Wildlife Curator and Chief Naturalist of the Leslie Science and Nature Center, introduced the first graders to three birds of prey: an American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, and barred owl.  He told the students about the physiological differences between the birds, talked about bird of prey survival skills, and allowed them to touch different feathers.  The highlight of David’s presentation was a demonstration of the red-tailed hawk’s flying capabilities.  He asked the students to lay on the ground—shoulder to shoulder—and had the hawk fly over them from a perch across the field.


We would like to thank David for sharing his expertise on birds of prey with us!
At the end of the day, we were sad to see the first graders go, but had a fantastic, fun-filled day in the great outdoors.  We are extremely grateful for the parents, grandparents, and teachers who helped us throughout the day and gave 157 first graders the opportunity to experience camp.  We hope to see them back at camp as summer campers in the future!

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