Are you looking for a way to make sure your children get enough Vitamin D this summer? Does your little one prefer the outdoors and getting dirty to books and video games? Or maybe you have an avid animal lover on your hands? If so, then check out one of NJ’s awesome animal or nature camps. They’re the perfect way to let your child learn while engaging their passion.
When choosing the appropriate camp to send your nature-loving kid to, it’s important to consider your options. There are nature centers, zoos and farms located throughout New Jersey that offer wonderful programs to keep kids active and engaged all summer long. Here are the top four benefits of sending your children to animal or nature camps:
Get Up Close & Personal with Animals
For all the little animal lovers out there, zoo and farm camps are the way to go. Kids are able to gain exposure to animals by learning how to feed and care for them. They’ll get hands-on experience with live animals that have been specifically chosen to be around children. According to Jean Whalen, the Assistant Park Director at Cape May County Zoo, “There are zoo animals and education animals.” This way, kids are only interacting with select animals, while the other zoo animals are available for observation. Both farm and zoo camps give children the opportunity to learn about animals in a playful and closely monitored environment.
Connect with the Environment
As Whalen explains, animal-focused camps “teach respect for Earth, animals and species survival.” Kids are able to connect their environment with the animals that inhabit it and learn how preserving that environment will ensure that species survive for generations to come. Another benefit of these camps is the opportunity to take a look at the “history and descendants” of certain species. Cape May County Zoo dedicates an entire week to dinosaurs, which examines snakes, alligators and lizards to show children how animals relate to one another and evolve over time.
Roam Free & Explore
If you have a kid who loves being outside, nature camps are the way to go. Children spend the summer roaming free and taking in all of the fresh air and sunshine they can handle. They deserve it after spending the better part of the past nine months inside of a classroom. Nature camps are the perfect way for children to use their minds in a new way. As Tammy Love, Camp Director at Watershed Nature Camp, explains, “Nature camp is a less structured environment than school so kids can make mistakes and learn from doing. They learn by exploring, finding things, and learning through finding.” These camps are exclusively outdoors, barring storms or extreme heat, and introduce children to plants, animals and ecosystems that are found in their everyday environments.
Get Comfortable with Nature
Spending time in nature is not only beneficial to a child’s physical well-being, it has been proven to promote mental growth as well. As Love points out, “taking kids out of their comfort zones helps kids gain independence, self-confidence and self-respect.” The natural world can be unpredictable in the best way and it’s important for children to feel that they can handle themselves in it. As Love explains, “the primary point of coming to camp is to feel more comfortable in nature and to get to know the world that we live in.” It’s an incredible experience for kids to feel more confident in the outdoors and to pick up some valuable life lessons disguised as adventures!
Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Alena Yakusheva / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in order) Courtesy:
Cape May County Park & Zoo / Website
Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association / Facebook