By Katie Christman
VINS Education Intern
The first week of VINS Raptor Camp kicked off with a full 5 days of live bird programs, nature hikes, bird tag games and learning to hold a raptor on the glove just like the VINS educators (an activity highly-anticipated by the campers)! We still have Raptor Camp openings for the weeks of August 8-12 and August 15-19.
Monday & Tuesday. Campers spent their first two days learning about raptors’ adaptations and what makes them unique from songbirds and waterfowl. They were greeted with behind-the-scenes tours and the opportunity to feed VINS’s education hawks, owls and falcons. One of the campers’ favorite activities was sweep netting in the meadow for insects. Campers not only learned how the VINS’ meadow is an important habitat and food source for many birds, they had fun while doing it.
Wednesday & Thursday. Wednesday was all about owls. Campers played camouflage in the woods and had a unique opportunity to meet our snowy owl up close. If you see shelters in the woods as you walk along the trail, those were built by our campers! As the end of the week came closer, the campers were building their skills in order to be prepared for holding one of the birds at the end of the week. That’s why Thursday focused on falcons and their training. Not only did campers get to meet both our American kestrel and the peregrine falcon, they learned how we train our birds at VINS through a training game and practiced their bird balancing skills through relay races.
Friday. On Friday our campers were bubbling over with excitement, ready to hold the eastern screech owl on the glove for the first time. Every camper did an excellent job holding the owl and listening to directions. I think we’re looking at some potential future VINS educators or volunteers! Campers had another special treat by having guest speaker Rick Kendall, superintendent of Saint-Gaudens Natural Historic Site, talk to them about the duties of a park ranger and how they could become park rangers based on their interests.
Overall, the first week of raptor camp was fun and exciting. Campers had some amazing opportunities to learn, make friends and get up close and personal to our birds that call VINS home. A special thanks to counselors Mary and Mischa for their hard work and enthusiasm!
We still have Raptor Camp openings for the weeks of August 8-12 and August 15-19. See our web site for enrollment information.