We kicked off our new WI Land+Water Middle School Conservation Camp on June 15-18 at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center by welcoming 65 campers from across the state.

Campers spent their days participating in team-building exercises and exploring one of the four stations: Bat Ecology, Geology & Soil, Forestry & Tree ID, and Orienteering. Campers experienced a variety of hands-on conservation activities including soil education, wacky water critters, and an outdoor survival class.

Upham Woods staff educated students about scales, scutes, and skins and campers met turtles and snakes. The star of the show was Egor, a rescued snapping turtle with a love for eating strawberries. Campers also met Beauty, the red-tail hawk that also lives at Upham Woods.

Campers also practiced conservation stewardship through a service project. Students learned how to identify invasive plants, such as garlic mustard or crown vetch. After mastering identification, campers took to the trails to pull and properly bag any invasive plants they could find.

The evenings were also full of camp traditions. On the first night, Sauk County DNR Warden Hansen visited campers to share the many fun and challenging aspects of his work. Students enjoyed a fire-making contest, which required cabinmates to work together to build a fire high enough to burn through a string. The winning cabin earned the honor of being the first to make their pudgy pies. The evenings were filled with camp songs, skits, and s’mores around the campfire.

Camp wrapped with Conservation Jeopardy and students showcased the knowledge learned over their four days at camp. After giving out awards, it was time to say goodbye to new friends and hello to families. We thank the amazing staff at Upham Woods and the always-on-their-toes camp counselors who volunteered their time to help make our first Middle School Camp at Upham Woods a success!

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