Summer is an exciting time for kids to get outside and enjoy exploring, but when parents are unable to supervise or they don’t know where to go, children might wind up inside all summer. This is why the Environmental Learning Center hosts many summer classes for kids.
Michelle Berns, the Naturalist at the Muscatine County Conservation Board, says “Nowadays, kids spend too much time indoors and on electronics. When I was a kid, my mom would send me out in the morning to go play. We would come home for lunch and dinner and just be outside all day.”
Berns knows and understands that the world is different now, though. “Our world is changing and parents aren’t comfortable sending their kids outside on their own. And as a mom, I agree with that.”
Even though the world has changed, kids still need a chance to explore nature, and the Environmental Learning Center offers day camps that provide a safe way for kids to enjoy the outdoors, but with guidance. “Our camps are an opportunity for kids to get outside and get excited about nature,” said Berns.
Berns spoke about why it is important for children to care about nature. “People protect what they care about, and if kids care, learn, and get passionate about nature when they’re young, they will work to protect it as they grow up.”
The Environmental Learning Center’s camps allow children a chance to explore activities they may not have the means to try otherwise, such as archery, fishing, canoeing, or creek-stomping, to name a few. There are camps for all ages. Polliwog Playtime is for ages 18 months to 3 years, accompanied by an adult; Knee-High Naturalists for 4- to 5-year-olds and an adult; Chipmunk Camp is for kids who have just completed kindergarten or first grade; Kestrel Camp is for kids who have just completed second or third grade; Outdoor Skills is for kids who have just completed fifth through eighth grade; and they host many other special events during the summer as well.
Berns says most of their classes still have openings and there is still time to sign up.
Registration and more information about camps and events can be found at