Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of teachers, parents, organizers and writers, today’s children are far more aware of — and worried about — the environment. At the same time, fewer kids actually spend time outdoors, digging in the dirt, watching insects and just being with nature. If your child cares deeply about the natural world and wants to learn more, consider a camp with a “green” or environmental theme. Kids will learn more about the habitats of various creatures as well as ways we can protect our green spaces so all living things can share the planet.
Located near the western tip of the island, the Ecomuseum is a wildlife park that houses more than 90 different species of animals indigenous to the St. Lawrence River Valley. It’s a popular place to visit year-round, but the Ecomuseum also hosts a variety of summer day camp programs designed to introduce children and teens to the park’s plants and animals. Different hands-on activities help children to observe, learn about and care for animals. Campers also do bird watching, collect insects and participate in various games and arts and crafts.
A special teen program for those 12-17 focuses on outdoor activities such as learning falconry, climbing a Laurentian mountain to do a population census of the wildlife, swimming with aquatic animals and exploring wetlands.
Dates: June 29-August 21
Hours: Half-day camps from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Full day camps from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no before or after care available.
Prices: For ages 5-11: half days cost $110 per week ($100 for members) and full days are $200 per week ($180 for members). For ages 12-17: One week (only full days) costs $400 (members pay $360). A meal program, which includes lunch, a snack and a BBQ on the last day of camp is available for $40 per week.
Registration: Call (514) 457-9449 or visit www.ecomuseum.ca
Location: 21 125 ch. Ste. Marie, Ste. Anne de Bellevue.
GUEPE Day Camps
Two of Montreal’s large parks — Bois de Liesse and Pointe aux Prairies — bustle with day camp activities over the summer thanks to the efforts of GUEPE, a group of environmental educators. At these French language day camps, children ages 6-12 learn about ecology and the environment through activities such as bird and animal watching, hikes, fishing, insect hunting and various games. Although activities are carried out in French, the counsellors are bilingual, so anglophone campers are welcome if they have at least some ability in French. Sessions usually run for two weeks, although GUEPE will consider taking campers for one week, depending on space.
Dates: June 29-Aug 21 at Bois de Liesse Nature Park; June 29-July 17 and Aug. 10-Aug 21 for Pointe aux Prairies Nature Park.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with before and after care available.
Ages: 6 -12 (or in first grade by September 2009).
Prices: Bois de Liesse Nature Park – $295 for a two-week session with a 10 per cent discount for a 2nd child from the same family.
Pointe aux Prairies Nature Park – $280 for two weeks with a 10 per cent discount for a second child from the same family
Registration: Call (514) 280-6829 or go to www.guepe.qc.ca.
Location: Bois de Liesse Nature Park, 9432 Blvd. Gouin W., Pierrefonds and Pointe aux Prairies Nature Park, 14905 Sherbrooke St. E., Montreal.
A cross between a traditional summer camp and a scientific research expedition, the Whale Camp will appeal to kids with a passion for marine life. Campers sail in the Bay of Fundy (between Maine and Nova Scotia) looking for and learning about whales and other marine animals. The emphasis is on studying the animals in a way that doesn’t harm or scare them. Participants gather data about whales and also get to learn how to sail a 50-foot schooner. Campers live in dorms on a waterfront site. Other activities include hiking, bird watching, kayaking as well as classes on ecology, science and visits from local scientists. Those who choose to stay for three weeks can participate in the “Authors at Sea” program, where they document their adventures through stories, photographs and drawings that are made into a book.
Dates: June 21-August 29 for one, two and three week programs
Hours: Residential (overnight) camp
Prices: Between $1,325 to $3,970 depending on the number of weeks
Registration: Call (888) 549-4253 or visit www.whalecamp.com.
Location: Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy.
Le Centre écologique de Port-au-Saumon (CEPAS)
Campers with a passion for the outdoors and a good grasp of French might want to check out the Centre écologique de Port-au-Saumon in the beautiful Charlevoix region north of Quebec City. Located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the centre offers an ecology camp (one and two week sessions) where children ages 7-16 explore the area’s marine and insect life as well as its geology and forests. Campers observe and document wildlife, hike through the forests and learn about various animals and bugs. Plenty of traditional camp activities such as archery, swimming and team sports are offered. As well, those who sign up for a two-week session are treated to a whale-watching expedition. The centre also offers an astronomy camp as well as a counsellor-in-training program for those 16-18 years old.
Dates: June 28-August 21 (one and two week sessions)
Hours: Residential (overnight) French language camp.
Prices: $445 for one week and $770 for two weeks for the ecology camp.
Registration: Call (877) 434-2209 or visit www.cepas.qc.ca.
Location: 3330 Malcolm-Fraser Blvd., Route 138, La Malbaie.