Can You keep up at Camp KEEP?

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I just had an amazing week last week! It’s hard to believe because I spent the week with 125, 5th and 6th grade boys and girls at camp KEEP (Kern Environmental Education Program) at the ocean campus in Montana de Oro State Park. But I really did have a good time!

Now I do have to say, right off the bat, when my honey signed us up for this I was not really sure this was my cup of tea. I’m not really kid friendly and all that stuff! Don’t get me wrong! I like kids, I had four of them myself. I’m just not the real warm and fuzzy kind of person with short, snotty people.

I had nine girls in my cabin, I was glad most other cabins had twelve, but they also has two counselors, there was only one of me. All of my girls were in the 5th grade and from South Fork School. I had a great time getting to know all of the girls over the week. It was not a hard job at all to enjoy my time with them.

If your school doesn’t send your kids to KEEP or a camp like it you should check it out. See if there is a summer camp that you can send your kids to. The things that the young people learned, heck, what I learned this last week! I might be able to stand a chance on that show “Are you smarter than a 5th grader” now! Okay, probably not.

So let me give you a break down of my week; We get there after a bus ride of 4 hours with 55 kids – wow the noise.

Off we go to campfire circle to find out which cabin we are in. Sea Urchins, Brittle Stars, Whales, Dolphins, or Sand Dollars – those are some of the names of the cabins. Then grab your stuff, but don’t put it in the cabin yet just leave it outside for now.Image

First you have to get all contraband out of our stuff, even mine! If it was on the “no” list and you brought it and they find it after today you will go home! Hand it over now and no one gets hurt. No really no one gets hurt like with an animal coming into the cabin trying to get food that shouldn’t be there.

The kids then go on a tour of the camp to see all the different areas were they can and can’t be. The boys are not allowed on the girls side and the girls are not allowed on the boys side, things like that.

The counselors go to their special corner and learn all the rules of what to do to help keep the kids safe and having fun. Plus what to do if someone is homesick, or wets the bed. I have to say that the naturalist’s at KEEP have it all worked out to care for the kids; first in a compassionate manor, no matter the need or problem.Image

You will spend the week hiking to places like Valencia Peak, Morro Bay estuary, Sand dune ecosystem, rocky coastline ecosystem, tidepool ecosystem, Islay creek, now they call the hike “a walk” or “field studies” but some of them were five miles long that is a hike to these tired feet.

Then back to camp to learn more about what they have seen and touched and tasted in some cases. Like pickle grass in the salt flat of the estuary; it is very salty and you can eat it too! If you forget your salt shaker at home just pick some pickle grass.

Now you never go hungry at KEEP they made sure to feed you well, it was food that a 6th grader would love but that’s what it was about in the first place! I found out where they had the Tums, so I lived.Image

How do you get 125 kids to take a shower a few times a week? Well you make a schedule and only give them 5 mins to do it in. So Tuesday and Thursday was optional but Wednesday was mandatory, so at least they got one shower a week. Yes moms and dad’s, it was a little smelling on the ride home I have to say.

Campfire and silly songs are one of the things camp KEEP in known for. The one that will forever stick in my mind is the Scat song. You say a song about scat, why yes a song about scat. It goes like this:

It comes out of you and it comes out of me,

 It starts with a S and ends with a T,

                                                 I know what your thinking but don’t call it that,

                                                                             be scientific and call it scat.

There was more to it; something about a boy and a burrito and well you can see that it was a silly song about poo. Now it will be stuck in yours too.

Not only do they teach to kids all about the different ecosystems, but about living together, cleaning up after themselves, (yes something that a lot of them had never done before camp), and how to listen. It was amazing to see all 125 kids get quiet just by someone walking to the front of the room or the fire circle because they knew that person would not talk until they themselves stopped talking and that meant one less silly song to be sung.Image

I was blessed with the chance to go, and even look forward to going again if needed. Ask your school if they need counselors and see if you can keep up at camp KEEP.

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