This month, Youth Education Programs at The North Carolina Arboretum has gotten to welcome rising 2nd through 7th graders to Discovery Camp, where kids can spend a week exploring the great outdoors in the beauty of our 434-acre campus. From finding and identifying critters in Bent Creek to creating their very own journals and finger-knitting snake necklaces, take a look at some of the educational activities our campers have enjoyed in just the past week.

Patience pays off! After waiting for fifteen minutes to capture a tiny minnow they spotted in the shallows of Bent Creek, these campers finally get to inspect their hard-earned catch.
These “bugnoculars” are a great tool for getting a closer look at the tiny creatures we find at Discovery Camp.
We practice working with identification keys, which are a great scientific tool for use in the field. As these campers learned, observing if the aquatic insect you’re looking at has one tail vs. two can make all the difference in the world when trying to arrive at a correct ID.
Our environmental educators will sometimes take photos of the aquatic organisms we find to help us ID them later on using the iNaturalist app.
Whenever moving rocks, our campers know to be careful not to crush any creatures hiding underneath — and to return the rocks to the position we found them.
Salamander alert! With a little help, our campers identified this individual as a Carolina mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathus carolinensis).
Freshwater gastropods are indicator species for water quality, so finding this Pleurocera proxima in Bent Creek is a great sign about the health of our watershed!
The creatures we’ve spotted during the week’s adventures get recorded in the journals our campers make. As you can see, we’ve spotted quite a few critters!
When we weren’t busy looking at real life creatures, our campers got to have fun making their own! These finger-knitted snakes are a fun nature craft that lets campers express their own creativity.

Amazing youth education programs like Discovery Camp would not be possible without the support of members to The North Carolina Arboretum Society that allow us to educate over 27,000 students in the greatest classroom of all — nature! To learn more about membership, visit the link below.

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