PUTNAM — On June 19, the Marshall-Putnam River Conservancy District, the Marshall-Putnam SWCD and the Marshall-Putnam U of I Extension office held the annual Conservation Camp at Lake Thunderbird.
Fifty grade school-aged kids, along with 10 volunteers and presenters, offered a day of fun and learning about nature and conservation. The weather was not quite so happy, however. The morning’s events were held inside due to the heat, and as soon as lunch was over — the rains came. However, with this turn of soggy events, the kids were able to still enjoy the day.
There were four groups of kids, assisted by a few adult volunteers to head to different stations. Jeff Winner, Winner Reptiles, brought his collection of reptiles to the camp. He had snakes, lizards and turtles. He showed the kids how to properly handle good snakes and how to identify the ones to stay away from in the future. This was his last year with the camp and he will be missed at future camps. His enthusiasm for sharing the positive things about reptiles will live for a long time in the lives of kids that were able to listen to him. The University of Illinois Master Gardner’s taught a tree identification class. They did the best they could, by bringing in leaves, a tree cookie and other things to learn to identify, as well as how to identify some of the flora and fauna at the lake. Amber Grimes brought her medical knowledge to camp, and was able to teach the kids the basics of first aid and CPR. Chef Tony Wright came and taught the kids how to make their own solar ovens, pizza dough in a bag and use both at a campsite. The campers then enjoyed pizza for lunch. Julie Read, Ag in the Classroom – Extension, came for dessert and helped the kids to make ice cream in a bag. It took about 15 minutes of prep and shaking, but they all got a tasty treat to enjoy.
After lunch, as the clouds darkened the sky and thunder rolled, swimming was not allowed by the LTB Lifeguard staff. This was a big disappointment to the kids. To keep spirits high, campers learned how to make a salsa garden with the Master Gardeners, did a nature treasure hunt by thinking about the things they learned earlier in the day, and answered questions and visited with newly made friends.