Summer Nature Camp for Kids, based at the Centre for Urban Ecology at Humber Arboretum, kicked off Tuesday.
The nine-week camp has a different theme each week related to nature and includes many outdoor activities planned for the kids. There will also be a big camp game every Wednesday and swimming on Fridays.
It’s all about children connecting with nature, said Shanelle Wright, assistant camp director. She said the kids go through various outdoor nature programs during camp.
These theme-based programs include arboretum adventures, Humber River rally, dirty science, wetland wonders, wilderness survival and more.
Other activities planned for kids include nature walks, yoga, pond dipping, seed bombs, wildlife spotting, forest exploration and ecology games. By the end of the camp, the kids will have learned about nature and built on a number of skills. These include fine and gross motor skills, social skills and communication and problem-solving skills.
“The biggest thing that we really want them to take away from this whole experience is that nature is your friend. There is nothing to be afraid of,” Wright said. “It’s your playground, basically.”
But high temperatures might make it unsafe for children aged five to 12 years to be outside for too long. A heat warning was issued for Toronto by Environment Canada for Canada Day weekend, with temperatures reaching the mid-30s C throughout the city.
Wright said they have encouraged parents to pack big lunches and water bottles for the kids so they remain high on energy and hydrated throughout the day. In case of heat waves, children will remain in shaded areas and take part in activities that do not require much energy.
“If it’s really bad, we’ll bring them inside so they get to do activities indoors,” she said.
In addition to the weather, Wright said ticks and other bugs are also common in the large arboretum space. As a precaution, the camp staff will be doing tick checks in the hairline and socks of kids before entering the building.
“We actually haven’t had any children with tick bites in five years,” she said. The staff has special utensils and is trained to remove the ticks properly so that they do not cause any issues.