Calling young campers!

“More garden projects!”

That was the request of last year’s Rappahannock Nature Campers. So this year, June 21 to July 2, we will spend lots of time in the gardens at Singing Creek, and work on projects devoted to flowers, vegetables, birds and butterflies.

The 2009 nature camp crew. Photo by Lyt Wood.

Do you like to spend time in your garden? Do you like to help things grow? Do you like to watch flying things like hummingbirds, moths and honeybees?

Would you like to spend the night in the woods someday? Would you like to play games that you never play anywhere else? Would you like to go on a rock-hopping hike up the middle of a mountain stream?

One more question (and here’s the catch): Are you 8 to 12 years old? If so, you can join our community of Rappahannock Nature Campers for two very special, action-packed weeks this summer. But only if you are 8 to 12 years old. No exceptions!

It is hard to believe that the Rappahannock Nature Camp began 23 years ago at Rock Mills. This will be the 12th session at Singing Creek, which is three miles south of Sperryville on the Hazel River.

After 23 years, we can still offer this one-of-a-kind educational experience thanks to the continued sponsorship of the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), with the generous support of many local organizations and individuals.

Each year in the past, we have based our studies and observations on a specific theme, such as Patterns, Metamorphosis, Mysteries, Baby Animals and Bad Nature. This year, our theme will be “Gardens.” We will all take part in nurturing a very small part of the wondrous garden that is our Planet Earth.

Note that this is primarily an educational, not a recreational camp. We try to combine a sense of security and tradition with new, fun, fresh experiences every year and every day.

I am one of the founding directors of the camp, and I look forward to these two weeks more than anything else during the whole year. This June, we will again be joined by local musician and teacher Trista Scheuerlein and our legendary counselor, Alex Purnell.
Last summer, we had lessons about all kinds of “Bad Nature”: ticks, vultures, snakes, animal scat, carrion, poison ivy and microscopic mites and gut flora that live on and inside the human body. And we accumulated a respectable vocabulary list which included lots of words seemingly unrelated to natural history subjects: alliteration, moratorium, initiative, ambitious, inventory, decimate.

But always the lessons that we learn are really about life. Respect for nature and respect for each other go hand in hand. If we learn to listen to the song of a bird, then is it such a huge leap to learn to listen to each other?

This year’s camp will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, June 21, to Friday, July 2. There will be one overnight campout. Tuition is $225 for the two weeks. Financial assistance is available — please do not hesitate to apply if you need assistance.

Space is limited to the first 24 applicants, so it is a good idea to apply early. To request an application form, please call me at 540-675-1088 and leave a message with your address, or send an email to Or you can pick up one of the cherry-pink forms at the Rappahannock Extension Office or the kiosk at the Washington Post Office.

See you at camp!

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