A huge thank you goes out to all of our Eco-Campers for a wonderful day preparing for Waste Reduction Week! Fifteen campers and 5 volunteers spent the morning learning all about how to create less garbage through reducing, reusing and recycling. Here's what we did today.....
The Morning Session..... During parent registration, the Eco-Campers played Habitat Toss. This is a game that I created last year for a presentation on Animal Habitats. It involves tossing a bean bag animal into the bucket with the correct habitat. The bean bags were all hand made using recycled felt, rescued sewing floss, and they were all stuffed with reused elastics. For more information and photos, please visit www.tavvikteaches.com.
The Eco-Campers were organised into 2 smaller groups: Elephants and Pandas for Circle Time. During circle time, stories were read and the children sorted "trash" into the proper receptacles.
Craft Time For Craft Time, we focussed on using items found in our homes (which are bound for the trash) for alternative purposes. Reusing old boxes, the Eco-Campers created their own memory boxes. To decorate them, they used paper that was rescued from the dumpster of a school, stickers that were about to be thrown out by a neighbour, and non-toxic glue and markers.
The Eco-Campers explored the Eco-Home Doll House. This is a model and play set which portrays an eco-friendly and sustainable home. The Eco-Campers used their creativity and knowledge about the Earth to imagine how they could live in a sustainable way.
It was now time for a break! A healthy and delicious snack of apples and pears purchased at the St. Catharines Downtown Market was enjoyed by all of the Eco-Campers. They were now refreshed and ready to head outside!
Eco-Scavengers! With bellies full of wonderful fruit, we set off for our Eco-Scavenger Hunt. I am continuously collecting containers that might someday be useful for something. For example, my friends with young children were dropping off wipes containers all the time! They have become great crayon containers, piggy banks (decorated by children), and card holders. My Mother shops at Costco to save on packaging, and saves all of her giant containers of dried soup mix, or almonds and they sit in my attic waiting for a new life.
Well, all of these containers were given new uses on at our Eco-Camp. I attached random lengths of string that I'd also saved from the garbage over the years, to create a neck strap for the containers. With straps attached to these containers, the Eco-Campers were hands-free and able to explore our Certified Backyard Animal Habitat to find various nature items, and of course their prizes.
Each camper was to find one tinfoil wrapped prize and hold onto it until everyone had found one. While watching the Eco-Campers search, I was delighted to hear that when all but one group member had found her prize, the whole group worked together find her a prize. The children worked together and showed great spirit and kindness toward each other.
The Eco-Campers all managed to resist the temptation to open their prizes until the scavenger hunt was complete and then as a group we opened them up. The Eco-Campers used their memory boxes to store their prizes and some of their favourite nature findings. All of the tin foil was recycled by the Eco-Campers. It was now the time for our half-day campers to leave. We were very sorry to say good-bye. While we waited for the morning campers to be picked up, we played Parachute Habitat Sacs.
We ate lunch in the backyard and enjoyed the beautiful weather. The children ran and played and laughed.
To the Library.... Ten Eco-Campers remained for the afternoon and we set off for the library to find some more books about the environment. Each volunteer led 2 Eco-Campers through a catalogue search for interesting books. They learned how to find their books on the shelves and then we all gathered in the reading circle. Some Eco-Campers were read to by their volunteers and some were engrossed in the nature and animal scenes they found in their books.
After 15 minutes of reading, I read the entire group Polar Bear, Why is your world melting? The Eco-Campers were engrossed in the story and answered of my questions with an awareness of the importance of protecting the Earth.
Recently, after reading a fantastic book called The World Needs Your Kid by Craig Keilburger, I was compelled to show my son what it means to be a truly compassionate person, about other people and about the Earth. We have started asking our son to choose two toys each week that he thinks another little boy or girl would really enjoy. We told him that we would be giving these toys away to Community Care each week. When we asked him to choose the toys, he chose one toy that he had been completely obsessed with, and given to him by his favourite `Ama. His willingness to give away something so special to him to make someone else happy made me so proud. As the theme of today's Eco-Camp was reducing and reusing waste, I decided to ask the Eco-Campers to do something similar for another child.
The library has a section of children`s books which may be purchased for a mere 25 cents each. I told the Eco-Campers that an important part of the 3 Rs is to donate old items to give them a new life for other people. I had the children all choose a book that they themselves would love to read. They all chose books that I know they would have loved and happily purchased them with the intent to give them away to a child that may not have the opportunity to get to the library, or does not have a lot of books at home. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to walk all the way to Community Care, so we tried to think of another place closer which could use some books. We decided to give the books to Beyond Montessori School a new school in downtown St. Catharines. All of the Eco-Campers happily placed their books in the box and signed the card. Hopefully this will be a lasting memory for them and will become part of their consciousness and daily actions.
We returned to Tavvik Teaches and completed our last reused craft, Reused Bottle Cap Snakes and Caterpillars. I have been saving all of my caps and lids from my recycling as they are not able to be recycled in Niagara, hoping to come up with something interesting to do with them. I found the general idea in a craft book, but changed it to make it more eco-friendly.
Sadly, this was then end of our day. I hope that all of our Eco-Campers had as much fun as the volunteers and I did. All of your children have and will continue to inspire me to find new and exciting ways to foster their creativity and innate love for nature. We hope that you will all think about signing up for our next PA Day Eco-Camp where they will learn how to have an Earth friendly holiday. They will leave the camp with an understanding of how to give and receive without harmful packaging and will create presents for their friends and parents, all of which will have been created with recycled and reused materials. No new materials were purchased to make any of our crafts. All worksheets were printed on Forestry Stewardship Council paper, and the only waste that was generated was the backing of the stickers used for the memory boxes.