The only thing this kid could possibly find more exciting than a swimming pool or a bowl of ice cream is a chance to play in dirt, touch frogs, and learn about animals. When I told him he was going to Nature Camp for a whole week he nearly burst. Knowing he would be ecstatic, I didn't tell him until the week prior so that I didn't have to listen to endless, "Is it the week for Nature Camp yet?"
When last Monday morning dawned, he was ready to go and couldn't wait! "Can you put my bug spray on? Should I wear sneakers or sandals? Did you pack an extra water bottle for me? Do I get to eat lunch there?"
The Nature Center where his camp was being held is less than a 10 minute drive from our home. We visit it often and the boys know their way around pretty well. He walked into his classroom without looking back and saying goodbye or offering a hug.
Micah was very bummed when he found out he wasn't going. "But I'm a big boy now cause I use the poottttyyyyy!" I offered a trip to Target to buy a baseball helmet and the tears quickly stopped.
One of Grady Lee's teachers, Ms. Suzanne, was all I heard about all week. She seemed sweet as honey and from what I observed had limitless amounts of patience and energy so I give the girl two thumbs up.
I arrived early one day to pick him up and caught the last few minutes of a game, that according to Grady Lee, "was a snake trying to catch a mouse. We held hands to be a snake and them we had to run to catch a mouse and if we caught the mouse he became a part of the snake and had to hold our hands too."
Each day the kids learned about a new animal - its habitat, what it ate, how it had babies, etc. The crafts, stories, nature hike, games, and snack all pertained to the animal of the day. My kitchen counter is covered in painted turtles and snakes, birdhouses, a milk jug mouse, and a ready-to-die goldfish. More on that later.
When Micah, Annalyse, and I walked into his class to get him on Mammal Day, Grady Lee bounced out of his chair, ran over to us, and very excitedly announced, "Mom! Did you know that Annalyse is a mammal because she has hair and she drinks your milk?!" While I did not enjoy 12 sets of five year old eyes staring at me and two teachers laughing under their breath, I was happy that he had learned something new.
On the last day of camp, the kids explored a creek looking for "amphibens." No matter how many times I would correct Grady Lee and say, "It's amphibians, Buddy" he just couldn't get it. This was, by far, his favorite day. Running in the creek. Splashing in the mud. Looking for frogs. Catching water bugs. It just doesn't get better than that.
So about that ready-to-die goldfish. Tuesday was Fish Day and as part of their craft, the kids assembled aquariums and them went fishing in a big tank to choose the fish they wanted for their new aquarium.
This child has never been prouder. He clung to his Mason jar with pebbles and a leafy-twig and emphatically declared, "You need to drive berry, berry slow on the way home, Mom. Nemo is tiny and needs you to be gentle so he doesn't die, okay?"
We got home and I was faced with, "Nemo needs to eat. What do I give him?" and Micah whining, "I want a fish ttoooooo!" Sigh. I didn't realize Nature Camp meant new family pets.
Micah chose an orange and white fish, which he promptly named Spotty. He also thought Annalyse needed a fish "so that she wouldn't be sad" and he chose a white one for her. The name? Snowy. How creative.
It's been a few days and I'm fairly certain the goldfish are on their last lap around the cloudy bowl. I expect to see some belly up activity very soon. In the meantime, the boys are happy to watch them swim and feed them twice a day.
While Grady Lee was busy learning about animals and making new friends, I enjoyed some one-on-one time with Micah. Several days we stopped at the park on the way home from camp so that he could hit a few balls on the new T. The good news is that even though it was humid and in the mid-90's, he was concerned about safety first and insisted on wearing his batting helmet. Cute and crazy.