April 29, 2013


Posted by Rebecca Burkhead, Day Camp Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

Who doesn’t know that boys and girls develop differently?  Or that 8 year olds have different needs from 11 and 14 year olds? This winter I’ve been working on games and discussion topics for our counselors to use to meet the specific developmental characteristics of all of our campers.

We know that younger campers love “activities” that have rules. In sharp contrast, our teens would rather choose what they do, like discussing, interacting, and creating collaboratively. The middle “tweens” prefer to use maps or Global Positioning Units to explore their surroundings. But these generalizations have many exceptions. We can't do anything one-size-fits-all because people are dynamic.

Realizing group dynamics vary with age and gender we’re going to have counselors working to the age group’s strengths and interests throughout the day. Challenging campers to learn new skills or build existing strengths.  Like in the past, we’ll be working on building not only camper inter-relationships, but also between staff and campers. It’s our goal to help everyone build character and self-esteem.

Just like the Osprey is returning to its nest, many campers and counselors are coming back for another summer. There are lots of new folks coming, too. Together we’re going to have so much fun!

April 22, 2013

STEM Update

Posted by Derrick Knudsen, STEM Program Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

For years parents have been asking if their 6 – 11 year-old daughters and sons could join ECO, our in-depth environmental science program. Unfortunately we’ve had to say “no” because the skills and knowledge in ECO were designed for 12-15 year olds. Which is why we are excited to announce our newest program…ECO Jr.!!  ECO Jr. will be taught by our ECO instructors and introduce younger campers to the basics of ecology and field work. Young campers will begin using the same tools that scientists use to study our camp's ecosystems! The foundation our campers build will prepare them for all of our ECO projects, but more importantly, feed their enthusiasm for science and the natural world.

As always, we'll be exploring and studying the Great Pond, the Long Island Sound (Goldsmith’s Inlet), and the Woodlands and Wetlands of Peconic Dunes.

Here’s a glimpse into what our ECO campers will be doing in 2013…
  • Water Quality of the Great Pond – Campers will collect data in different areas of the lake. They will compile the data throughout the summer and share it with the Town of Southold’s Land Preservation Department.

The Great Pond Promotional Video from Peconic Dunes on Vimeo.

  • iMAP Invasives – Campers will identify invasive plants at camp and take their GPS data points. The will enter the species and locations into an online database designed to construct a national map of invasive plants.
  • eBIRD – Campers will conduct a bird count. They’ll enter their data in an online database to help scientists track the migration of bird species.

Woodlands Promotional Video from Peconic Dunes on Vimeo.

  • Eelgrass Restoration Project – This project was implemented last year, and with the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the eelgrass populations could really use our help. Campers will put together “tortillas” (eelgrass woven through burlap discs), which are then taken by divers from the Marine Meadows Program and planted the very next day!

LIS Promotional Video from Peconic Dunes on Vimeo.

April 15, 2013


Posted by A.D. Newcomer, Expressive Arts Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

It seems like only yesterday it was June 2012 as I embarked on the journey through my first P Dunes summer as the new Expressive Arts Program Director. And now, another summer is fast approaching! Here at the Arts Department, some exciting new things are happening. We'll be changing locations on campus, into EArtH (otherwise known as the Expressive Arts House), complete with a resource library, photo and video editing rooms, an art studio, and some wonderful outside spaces to work in.

Art Commercial - Week 5 from Peconic Dunes on Vimeo.

Also changing and growing is our curriculum. During the off season, we have been improving existing programs such as Videography, Photography and Music, and creating new ones such as Art & Design and Environmental Sculpture. In Video, we will begin to use the Adobe Creative Suite software for the first time, and learn even more great editing techniques, as well as begin to implement the Adobe Youth Voices curriculum and become part of an international online community of youth artists working in digital media. For more about Adobe Youth Voices, click here http://youthvoices.adobe.com/.

Potential Project for 2013 Environmental Sculpture?

Our new Environmental Sculpture Challenge, based on Cornell University's Garden-Based Learning program, involves the creation of Land Art, Garden Art and Environmental Art, immersing campers in a collaboration with nature. As we go into our first summer with this new program, we are excited to explore the potential opportunities to create exciting collaborations between the Arts and STEM programs. We are looking forward to having some awesome Arts instructors returning this summer, as well as some new instructors from Long Island, England and Scotland we can't wait to join us! Bring on the summer, and a wonderful season of creative self expression!

Want to continue the conversation? Go over to our Facebook page and interact with 2000 members of the P Dunes community...Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp Facebook page

April 8, 2013


Posted by Christopher Colahan, Managing Director at Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

A blog update is long overdue! There's been so much going on this winter it's hard to know where to begin. I promise I'll start updating the blog again, each week focusing on a different topic. This week, I'll focus on the new Tripping Department!

2012 Sea Kayak Trippers Taking a Snorkel Exploration Break

This past fall (2012) we thought a lot about our goals for our campers. We've always wanted them to grow socially and emotionally, and develop skills and knowledge. There's a large body of research that examines the multiple benefits the outdoors offers for human development in all 4 of those areas (social, emotional, cognitive, and physical). So, we performed a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) on P Dunes for outdoor exploration:

Strengths: Peconic Dunes possesses many ecosystems and is close to others, including marine, freshwater rivers and lakes, dunes and forests. Plus we had just purchased new canoes and sea kayaks and they were being used to explore Great Pond and LI Sound down to Goldsmith's Inlet. We also own a 12-passenger van and a canoe trailer.
Weaknesses: We felt that we were not intentionally developing camper skills so they could continue to explore LI's ecosystems when they return to their homes.
Opportunities: Over the past few years we've developed an awesome relationship with Elizabeth O'Connor, an American Canoe Association (the original ACA) master instructor. She told us about the ACA's developmentally progressive, age-appropriate curriculum for canoeing and kayaking. Plus, P Dunes has two American Red Cross waterfront lifeguard instructors who only needed a short course to upgrade their certifications to become Wilderness First Aid instructors...enabling them to train the rest of our staff.
Threats: As with any activity that takes you away from civilization, there is an element of danger that would need to be explored and safely managed.

It was clear that with some minor changes, we could develop an amazing outdoor tripping program. So we identified four methods of outdoor exploration on which we would focus: canoeing, kayaking, trekking, and fishing. And thus our new Tripping Department was formed!

2012 Qualifiers for Goldsmith's Inlet Sea Kayak Trip

Tripping Director, Miesje Reiner
This summer we'll be offering progressive, age-appropriate instruction in all four areas. As campers demonstrate proficiency and interest, we'll make day and overnight trips available so they can continue to develop their skills in less controlled environments (i.e. off-campus). This is all being implemented by new Tripping Program Director, Miesje Reiner, who joined Peconic Dunes in 2012 as a fishing instructor. Miesje's a Long Island native and local school teacher who spends most of her free time exploring the island's waterways and walking trails. Our canoe and kayak staff will continue be trained in lifeguarding and canoe/kayak, and all of our Tripping staff will be trained in Wilderness First Aid (some already are trained Wilderness First Responders).

We are entering the next phase of Peconic Dunes 4-H Camp. Our goal for the Tripping Department is for it to grow beyond the overnight camp, into its own program. Another goal is to combine departmental strengths, and create scientific outdoor exploration opportunities, like studying the horseshoe crab migrations on an overnight sea kayaking trip. If you have any ideas, please share them on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peconic-Dunes-Camp/62652174713