(This blog post was submitted by Christy Maready of the Pettigrew State Park staff)
Pettigrew State Park hosted its first ever summer camp June 25-27 for children ages 8-12. Park rangers, staff and Pettigrew State Park Friends Group members, along with special guests from other North Carolina agencies, came together to make the camp a success.
At the beginning of camp, campers made tree cookie nametags and joined N.C. Wildlife Officers Jim Shreckengost and Mark Cagle to learn about water safety. Campers then tried their hand at backyard bass, a game that teaches how to cast and reel in fish. Next on the agenda, the campers began earning Junior Ranger credentials. When campers completed the program book during the three-day camp, they were awarded with certificates and Junior Ranger badges . The kids learned gyotoku, the art of fish printing, and local artist Carol Soo Lee joined them to make pottery.
Peanut butter, birdseed and pine cones were used to make natural bird feeders with visiting friends group members. For their Junior Ranger stewardship project, the campers weeded and mulched two flower beds at the park office. After all of the dirty work, they enjoyed swimming in Lake Phelps, while learning canoe safety from Ranger Steve Rogers. To burn off extra energy, campers played corn hole, drew with sidewalk chalk, jumped rope, and played kickball in the park.
The final day of camp brought three N.C. Forest Service staff to demonstrate how wildfires are fought and the importance of managing forests. Ranger Brandy Belville had previously shown ways fire behaves in different landscapes by using matchstick forests.
Campers were joined by family members and friends to receive their awards and Junior Ranger badges. All of the children who participated said they enjoyed the camp, and park staff agreed that it was a learning experience for everyone and they hope to host the camp again next year.