Excited voices. Dirty hands. Sweaty, smiling faces.
That’s what we love about youth programming each summer at the Dickinson County Nature Center --- kids get outside, they get dirty, and they love it.
Plus, environmental educators work hard to help kids explore the different options that have for outdoor recreation, because they often don’t realize how much they can do outside.
“You don’t have to camp or fish to enjoy the outdoors. You can enjoy playing outside or sitting outside, or shooting squirt guns outside,” said Bryanna Kuhlman, environmental education coordinator at the nature center. “You can enjoy the outdoors and still have other interests.”
Free summer programming will begin in June at the nature center in Okoboji.
Young Naturalists, for ages 9-12, will be held 10:30 a.m. Thursdays June 14, 28, July 12, 26 and Aug. 9 with themes such as Leave No Trace Skills, Animal Tracking 101 and Recycled Art.
Nature Explorers, for ages 6-8, will be held 10:30 a.m. on Thursdays opposite of Young Naturalists --- June 7, 21, July 5, 19 and Aug. 2. Kuhlman is excited for the Camping 101 theme for Nature Explorers on July 5, during which kids will get to participate in tent relays, learn how to set up a campsite and talk about safe camping practices.
“I think it will be fun and active. They will get to play games and learn basic camping skills they can use in the future,” she said. “This is an age you can really start to teach them safety principles, and they really start to engage with the outdoors.”
Nature Tots, a year-round monthly programs for ages 2-5, will continue this summer as well. Programs will be held 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8 before returning to the typical 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. sessions the second Wednesday of the month to finish out the year.
“Parents enjoy Nature Tots because you get to enjoy the outdoors with your tots and learn different ways families can enjoy the outdoors,” Kuhlman said. “It’s usually a collaborative experience between parents and tots.”
Kuhlman loves preparing the Nature Tots programs because she can look for fun new children’s book, find new crafts and plan activities for kids to get dirty in the outdoors.
“I like just getting out with the kids, showing them different things and exploring the environment,” Kuhlman said.
All youth summer programs are free but are limited to 25 children per session. Please call 712-336-6352 to pre-register your child for each program. Each program lasts approximately one hour.
For more information on Dickinson County Nature Center year-round programming, visit our website or call 712-336-6352. You can also keep up with the latest happenings on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Image credit: Dickinson County Conservation