In late July, children from the Boys & Girls Club of Milwaukee visited the Center for Summer Camp. Every year, children ranging in ages from 4-10 come to the Center during this special week. Schlitz Audubon Naturalists lead campers on activities such as hunting for fossils on the beach, climbing our 60-foot observation tower, and canoeing on Mystery Lake. Additional educators stop by with our Animal Ambassadors for children to engage with and learn about wildlife.
New Experiences on a Great Lake
For more than 10 years, Schlitz Audubon has hosted a week of Summer Camp for Boys & Girls Club members, over the years providing hundreds of children with memories that last a lifetime. This opportunity for 25 children was made possible this year by the Anon Charitable Trust. At the start of their Summer Camp experience, children hike to our sandy shoreline, and for some children this is their first time seeing Lake Michigan. Campers become acquainted with sand and water, search for fossils and interesting rocks, and climb and balance across driftwood logs.
Throughout the week, campers also explore Mystery Lake, a one-acre pond that is perfect for seeing ducks swim and dive, watching turtles sun on lily pads, and learning to canoe. During the camp, children join Schlitz Audubon staff members to experience nature from inside a canoe. For many participants, canoeing Mystery Lake is the first time they step foot in a boat. New experiences can be startling, exhilarating, and challenging all at once. Campers shriek with surprise or delight when a dragonfly buzzes past them, or when one of their fellow canoe passengers catches a frog in their net. Canoeing is a multi-faceted experience as campers are on the lookout for snails, tadpoles, and water bugs to capture.
Initially, some kids tell us that they have concerns about spending time in nature. We’ve found that after experiencing just one week at Schlitz Audubon, campers are more excited to spend time in nature.
“It’s so much fun!” said Joyce Michelstetter, a longtime Schlitz Audubon Naturalist. “The kids get so excited when they’re out on the water. All across the lake you hear kids shouting ‘I caught a turtle!’ or ‘Look at those ducks!’ or ‘I touched a lily pad flower!’ Seeing a child catch a frog for the first time, holding it in their hand and studying its legs and eyes and skin with awe – it’s pretty special,” said Joyce.