Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hot springs, meteors, and wildlife, oh, my

At ERCís Eco Camps

Express Staff Writer

With hot springs, meteors, wildlife and friends, a day in the life of an Environmental Resource Center Eco Camper is as rich and diverse as our Wood River Valley home.

Kids from grades 4-9 spend several days in chaperoned cabins 17 miles north of Ketchum—enjoying days of exploration and nights eating s'mores, playing games and singing songs. Adults can join children for a night under the stars in late summer.

Eco Camps for 4th--7th graders:

- "Prints on the Land," from Monday through Friday, July 16-20 ($350) takes children into the past in the spirit of those who traveled and lived in our valley, from Native Americans to Basque sheepherders.

They explore and celebrate the different relationships to the land held by a wide variety of cultural groups, as well as the techniques they used to survive in the wild. They will also explore the impact of our current presence in the valley on our natural landscape.

- "Forces of Nature," from Monday through Friday, July 2-7 ($430) allows kids to explore the effects on the landscape of volcanoes, earthquakes, wildfires, glaciers, raging rivers, and fierce winds. They get up close and personal with water rafting the Salmon River.

- "Flight School" from Monday through Friday, Aug. 6-10 ($350) immerses kids in a world of feathers and beaks.

When researchers from the Idaho Bird use mist nets to capture and band songbirds, campers lend a hand—releasing birds after they have been banded. They learn about the mysteries of flight, the unique characteristics of birds, and their importance to the ecosystem.

Eco Camps for 8th--9th graders:

- Older students get an in-depth focus on sub-alpine and alpine ecology in "Science on the Summits," Monday through Friday, July 23-27 ($350/$430 with optional rafting).

Students deepen their understanding of the natural world, including the unique ecosystems that exist at higher elevations. Field days are longer and more intense. Participants should be prepared for 5- to 10-mile hikes with 1,000 feet of elevation gain. On Friday, there is an optional half-day rafting trip on the Salmon River.

- Kids and adults camp together during the "Shooting Star Sleep Out" at Alturas Lake's Camp Perkins from Saturday, Aug. 11 to Sunday, Aug. 12 (member cost $30 per adult, $15 per child; and non-member cost $35 per adult, $20 per child).

Participants can see the Perseid meteor shower streak across the sky, putting on a fabulous show before summer draws to a close. ERC staff and local experts lead weekend nature workshops. There are chances to canoe and kayak. The event includes Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast.

- "Wild Lunch with The Hunger Coalition" day camps are free on Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 12 to July 5. These camps offer a series of nature education day camps, during The Hunger Coalition's Summer Lunch Connections at Woodside Elementary, open to ages 1-18, but children under 10 need to be accompanied by a caretaker over 15.

- Wild Connections at the Symphony. The ERC also offers a free "Parent's Night Out" July 30 and Aug. 4 and 14 during the Summer Symphony.

The ERC will create a fun and educational setting where children can connect with nature near the Sun Valley Pavilion, freeing parents to connect with the concert. It is open to ages 5-13. Call Summer Symphony office at 622-5607 ext. 12 to register.

Scholarships and discounts for all ERC summer camps available. For info go to, or call 726-4333.

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