Posted by Sarah Marcus, STEM Director/Educator
Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp (STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
Picture this: Late morning in the woods, the timid April sun shining coyly through the bare branches of the oak and beech trees…a blond haired boy with the eyes of a hawk balanced at the top of one of those trees, successfully hiding from his opponents in the “Predator Prey” game. A brightly lit cabin on a dark cliff overlooking the crashing Long Island Sound, campers pushing sticks with marshmallows stuck on the ends into the steady fire of the fireplace…one fourteen year old makes his very first s’more with help from anew friend.
A small group of pre-teens, unplugged from video games and computers, setting out with their equipment and notebooks to collect data for a project they designed on their own…they search the terrain for a suitable place for invertebrate collection. These are just three of hundreds of moments that stick in our minds from Peconic Dunes’ first ever, Spring Break Camp.
On April 9, 2012, ten campers arrived at camp unsure of what to expect. Some of them had been to Peconic Dunes in previous summers and were eager for a week of the outdoors. Others arrived expecting a science class and ready for a week of learning. What neither group expected was an intricate combination of the two, where growth could not be obviously extracted from fun.
The campers relished everything; from completing a high ropes course, to playing capture the flag in the woods at twilight, to working together to perform high quality science projects. They didn’t notice that the communication and teamwork skills that they naturally practiced during the high ropes course directly helped them while working in groups to complete their research projects. Nor did they register the fact that the geo-caching treasure hunt was not done just for fun but to teach them how to use a GPS unit, which they needed to use in their projects.
Campers even took turns doing the dishes, practicing community living and service, observing concepts that we all benefitted from over the course of the week. At the end of the week, campers displayed their research projects and all the skills they learned to a panel of scientists, family, and friends. Each camper received a Peconic Dunes blanket and an award for their unique contributions to our community. Spring Break Camp would never have happened without the hard work of many people.
Thank you to our guest scientists, Hannah Emouna (Ornithologist), Chip Hamilton (Biologist, NYS DEC), Dr. Andrew Greller (Botanist, Queens College) and Faruque Zaman (Entomologist, CCE Suffolk). And most of all a very special thank you goes to Chloe Pocock. Without Chloe’s dedication, good nature and excellent counseling skills Spring Break Camp would not have been such a success. For all of those who did not attend Spring Break Camp, you can check out what we did in this video.
We hope to see all of you next April for our second Spring Break Camp!