Kids' summer camp 2018

Waunakee-area youths will have an opportunity this summer to connect with Wisconsin’s farm heritage and explore the natural world, thanks to an expanded summer camp at Schumacher Farm County Park just east of Waunakee.

The week-long day camp draws from a shorter camp offered in previous years, spanning from June 25-29, when kids in grades K-5 will participate in hand-on, educational activities and have time to play.

“It’s a camp, let’s remember,” said Amy Jo Dusick, park administrator.

Dusick, a restoration ecologist and naturalist, will team up with Rachelle Stone, an educator with the Madison school district’s PEOPLE Program, along with guest facilitators, including a 4-H Youth Development Educator, a biotechnology Extension specialist and an agricultural engineering professor to lead programs through the week.

Dusick said the Friends of Schumacher Farm education committee wanted to expand the summer offering. “We have so much material and curriculum already put together,” she said.

Students will participate in gardening and learn about conservation, pollinators, mammals and the prairie, she said. They’ll also collect insects from trees and catalog them for a national data base that will contribute to scientific research. “They’re the basis for a lot of the food web diversity,” Dusick noted.

Activities will be collaborative, as the kids learn about tools such as windmills and steam engines and participate in scavenger hunts.

Campers will try their hand at preserving food, with pickling and canning activities, all part of farm life from the 1920s and ’30s.

“Our objective is to tie depression-era farm history into broader lessons of agricultural science, energy, the farm economy and conservation ecology while emphasizing creativity, observation skills and experimental learning – and fun,” Dusick said.

The campers will spend a little time journaling with suggested topics to cover at the end of the morning activities, followed by supervised free play and maker space time at the end of the day.

The final day will be an open house, where a gallery of the campers’ work will be displayed for parents, guardians and grandparents to see. Also that day, volunteers with the Friends of Schumacher Farm group, including Rosa Ropers, Jean Elvekrog, Trel Gimber and Sue Jostad will serve on a grandparents panel to talk about how farm life has changed.

The camp will run from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily June 25-29, although children need not be enrolled for every day, Dusick said. Schumacher Farm has a limited number of scholarships to make the camp available to as many as possible.