Summer Camp Field Notes
- September 14, 2023 -

Headwaters’ summer camps were an absolute blast! Campers of all ages really impressed us with their hard work – especially since planning out their projects and working through the scientific process is often new for them! Campers were challenged to design a testable research question and develop a scientific method for collecting data.They analyzed their data and interpreted their results to determine whether or not they could support their hypothesis! 

Many of our camps also spent time playing games and telling stories around the campfire, of course with s’mores each night, and not only did we hike around each day, but we also went on a short night walk to observe the stars and talk about nocturnal wildlife at camps in the Truckee region!

By taking students outside to learn real-world science, and empowering them to design their own research projects, we are also teaching them critical thinking and communication skills. At Headwaters, our goal is to see these students grow into informed citizens who not only pursue science careers but blossom when faced with opportunities to positively impact society!

Program managers from camps had the following field notes:

Intro to Research Camp

Projects included investigating the effects of pH and temperature on macroinvertebrate biodiversity, identifying if bird populations were more abundant closer or farther from the lake, and examining if tree density affected the number of plant species.

Girls Science Camp

These girls were invested in projects like macroinvertebrate populations in Lacey Stream, pH and DO measurements in Webber Lake, and stump degradation in the forests! 

Webber Lake Environmental Research

Campers investigated projects like investigating macroinvertebrate populations in Lacey Stream and arthropod abundance in Lacey Meadows. On Friday morning, we were joined by the Truckee Donner Land Trust for a docent hike where campers presented their projects to members of the community. 

Serene Lakes Camps

Week 1: Anson Call joined us for a presentation on Aspen trees on Thursday afternoon!

Week 2: We had an exceptional week exploring trees and wildflowers around Serene Lakes. Morgan Long joined us for a scientific presentation on bear denning on Thursday afternoon!

Week 3: We explored animals and insects during week three. Campers questioned whether things like soil moisture, tree species, or sunlight influenced the number of insects they saw. Todd Rawlinson from the U.S. Forest Service joined us Thursday to talk about his work as a wildlife biologist and all of the different aspects of his role.

Truckee Camps

We had an exceptional week exploring the ecosystems around the area to search for different patterns in animals and insects. From meadows to forests, we had no shortage of area to explore. We investigated all sorts of data but campers seemed to really enjoy catching grasshoppers and listening for birds. We even had one group dive deep into some of the math ecologists do to determine the age of trees! 

Richmond Summer Camp 

In June and July, we had a new-to-Headwaters summer camp in Richmond for elementary-aged students!

 We aim to ignite curiosity, deepen campers’ connection with the environment, and explore science in a captivating way, which meant taking these campers on exciting field trips to parks, sanctuaries, and zoos, where they were able to explore the wonders of nature up close! They were particularly excited about insects and their general surroundings, discovering new places like the creek. Each of these field trips was coupled with other outdoor activities, engaging discussions, and scientific method practice, like data collection, which helped campers put the pieces together when it came time to think through the scientific process.

By the end of camp, each child was understanding the scientific process and beginning to see potential career paths they hadn’t thought of before. Plus, their excitement about camp and science grew every day! A beautiful transformation occurred in our attendees. They not only grasped the scientific process but also developed a passion for science-related careers. Their enthusiasm grew daily.

We also spent time bridging science and art through creative thinking, art projects, and fun activities that had the campers learning facts about insects and enhancing engagement, while also flexing their creative muscles and using their imaginative minds. 

Throughout the summer, our campers’ enthusiasm shone in all the activities!