Youngsters explore the coast in summer camp

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For two weeks during the summer, campers in the Wetlands Explorer Camp and the Working Coast Camp, sponsored by the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center in Houma, will travel by boat or bus to learn more about the environment of south Louisiana.

“It’s all hands-on stuff and a break from technology,” Jonathan Foret, director of the center, said. Every day there will be a field trip, to places like an alligator farm, a shrimp processing plant or the Conoco Phillips headquarters. “It’s all educational, but also fun.”

Campers in the Wetlands Explorer Camp will learn about the causes of coastal erosion, while those in the Working Coast Camp will learn more about local economic drivers and life on the coast. Both camps are open to youth ages 9 to 12.

“I enjoy seeing the kids having an opportunity to explore their own environment, because they rarely get the opportunity to go outside and explore nature. One of the places we take them is the Mandalay Trail, where they learn how to identify plants, such as Poison Ivy, which can be important,” Foret said. He also said the participants really love the experience, learning about species like apple snails or being able to see and hold baby alligators.

Following the daily field trips, campers will return to the Wetlands Discovery Center to engage in activities that build on what they saw or learned that day. “The camps also give kids a chance to catch their breath from technology, not that technology is bad, but these camps allow them to explore other avenues.”

The first camp session, the Wetlands Explorer Camp, will begin on June 8, followed by the Working Coast Camp on June 15. Each session is for five days and the cost is $130 per week. The camp fee includes all field trip costs, but campers will be required to bring a bag lunch and drink. They will also need sunglasses, sunscreen and bug repellent. Campers will not be allowed to wear crocs or flip-flops.

For more information, call 985-580-7289. Information and applications are also available online, from a link on the homepage of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center.