Photo courtesy of Heather Wight

Photo by Heather Wight

Lucy Atkins Creates Outdoor Vacation Week Camps February and April Vacations – George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History

Read about Natural History Explorations in the Bangor Daily News.

With the help of a new program, students in grades six to eight can get outdoors every day during the February and April vacation weeks, creating their own mystery adventure as they explore the ways of the natural world – while also being plenty silly and having lots of fun.

In conjunction with the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History, College of the Atlantic senior Lucy Atkins is running Natural History Explorations during both vacation weeks. Each program is a full-day, weeklong experience. There are still a few places available in February.

Each day is different. In February, the group might examine a meandering track along a stream, then try to figure out who made it and what they were doing: it is an otter, running and sliding for what seems to be sheer joy. Or they might peer under the ice to understand the wintery habits of riverine invertebrates. Animal behavior is a mystery, but one with many clues; Atkins is experienced in helping young people decipher them.

“Lucy is an outstanding environmental educator,” says Brian Cote, a middle school science teacher at Mount Desert Elementary School. Last winter Atkins helped to facilitate outdoor activities at the school with Cote, going snowshoeing and ice fishing, building a snow shelter, and taking nature hikes with the students. Adds Cote, “Lucy’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and facilitation skills were greatly valued and appreciated at MDES last winter.”

Atkins is also experienced in having fun outdoors with middle-schoolers, whether through launching dances to get students warmed up, creating natural scavenger hunts, or encouraging the students to take on the sensory awareness of predators.

The object of each of the weeks is to give participants a chance to learn about nature up close and personal and through their own investigation, as well as to offer techniques for children to gain skills in noticing more of what is around them.

Atkins has recently completed an internship at Chewonki’s Outdoor Classroom, and has worked as a camp counselor for several years. She has spent her time at COA studying natural history, working at the Dorr Museum, and getting out in the woods and mountains of the island. Her co-leader Annie Cohen has also been studying education and ecology. Atkins is a Wilderness First Responder and lifeguard, while Cohen is certified in Wilderness First Aid. Both are CPR-certified.

Based out of the Dorr Museum, Natural History Explorations will run Monday through Friday over February and April school vacations from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with one overnight in the museum on Thursday night. A weeklong session costs $75, to cover gas, lunches, snacks, overnight meals, and materials. For more information, contact Lucy Atkins at latkins@coa.edu or call 413-896-5773.

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