Create your own Nature Camp this summer

Being outside, getting dirty, messing about, searching for bugs – things that children love and which are also good for them. Here’s more from Tanya Sweeney in the Irish Independent

Park life: Don’t be a stick in the mud and let kids be at one with nature

Little ones can get hands-on experience with small animals at Dundrum’s Airfield Estate

Little ones can get hands-on experience with small animals at Dundrum’s Airfield Estate

We already know that the benefits of getting closer to nature – emotional, physical and psychological – are manifold. From reacquainting kids with farm animals and combing the coastline for natural treasures to highlighting the importance of conservation and mucking about with mud, there are easy ways to recreate the Nature Camp.

1. Let things get mucky

The great news is that once you enter a parkland or forest, kids’ natural instincts to explore and enjoy free play kick in.

Angie Kinsella, who runs forest schools for Nature Way Education (natureway.ie), notes: “Let kids get mucky. It’s only an item of clothing. Besides, the memories they make are huge. Go looking for a squirrel’s nest. In a park or forest, make a ‘mini animal mansion’ – a little shelter with twigs or leaves, where mini creatures can hang out.”

2. Visit a farm

The country has plenty of activity farms where little ones can get hands-on experience with small animals, from chicken and piglets to lambs and goats. Airfield Estate in Dundrum has reopened (for pre-booked visits only, see airfield.ie for details), while the Wooly Wards Farm in Moneyball, Tipperary, holds events where visitors can handle the animals. Woolywoodsfarm.com has details on how to book.

3. Start a bug hunt

Find a sheet online listing the different insects you can find in a typical Irish woodland, and try to find them and tick them off the list. Likewise, there are several online resources about Irish trees. Do a mini-treasure hunt or even go searching for something as simple as a spiky leaf or a ladybird. Best of all, it’s the sort of activity that needs next to no equipment.

3. Access online resources

If you’d prefer that your days in the park, woodland or beach are a little more ‘structured’, some handy downloads are available. Get involved in a project like Seed Savers (irishseedsavers.ie), which is dedicated to preserving native fruits and vegetables, or An Taisce’s Green Schools is a great way to get kids more excited about nature.

Your local conservation group will also be able to give you plenty of pointers on how to run a good ‘camp’. The US- website Science Buddies (sciencebuddies.org) also has plenty of ideas and study aids to get you started.

4. Explore pond life

You’d be surprised how much fun stuff you’ll find in a local pond. Katie Long, owner and manager of Pine Forest Art Centre in Glencullen (pineforestartcentre.com) encourages her young workshop attendees to get up close and personal with the centre’s on-site pond.

“We collect stuff outside to use in art activities; we point out animals and we teach kids about the lifecycle of tadpoles and newts in our pond,” she explains.

5. Go foraging for food

A wealth of foodstuffs is waiting to be discovered in the great wide open, from wild garlic and dandelions to berries (especially in late summer). Buy Food For Free by Richard Mabey (€4.99 at Easons) will give you several inspirational ideas for your own family foodie adventure.

6. Make artworks

What better way to commemorate your own nature camp than creating an artwork? Collect plant specimens, leaves and twigs from your local green space and add them to text and drawings later on. Some scissors, glue and card paper will help your little ones get creative. Alternatively, a daily walk can be livened up by turning it into a photography session.

7. Incorporate technology

No doubt you’ll be keen to minimise screen time in your own personal nature camp, but sometimes it can be a great way to tap into useful information.

“Finding ways to integrate technology with the outdoors is the way forward,” says Andy Noble of the Nature Kindergarten at Park Academy Childcare in Wicklow. “Instead of demonising it, use it as a tool to help children find out more about nature and to plan fun outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts.”

Incorporating nature facts is a great way to make your scavenger hunt even more educational.

8. Learn wilderness survival skills

Take a leaf out of the ever-popular Brigit’s Garden summer camps in Galway, who are running Wilderness Survival Skills workshops this August (see brigidsgarden.ie for information). On the activity list for the five-day camp is animal tracking, cooking of wild plants, shelter and den building, knot tying and rope-swing making. Adult supervision is recommended: who knows, if you decide to stage a survival skills workshop for your little ones, you may even learn a thing or two yourself.

Find more interesting articles on parenting in the Irish Independent at https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/

Make it a summer to remember with a LOFT Summer Camp!

There’s lots on at LOFT this summer with a wide range of summer camps and activities to choose from!
Summer Camps 2018
Multi-Activity
10th – 13th of July  |  11am – 4pm  |  €60
A fun filled week for all aged 12-18.  This week will provide a great opportunity to try out some new activities, meet new people and gain confidence.  Activities may include surfing, a visit to Waterworld or other adventure parks, a BBQ at Ards Forest Park and more.
 
Ready Steady Cook
17th – 20th of July  |  11am-4pm  |  €60
Get ready for this year’s cookery camp and learn to cook some scrumptious starters, mouthwatering mains and delicious desserts.  There will also be a focus on healthy eating, budgeting and if the weather is nice we may have a BBQ too.  Aimed at all aged 12-18.
AMP (Art & Music Project)
14 – 17th of August  |  11am-4pm  |  €60
This week will be packed with creative activities and workshops.  It is a great opportunity to gain confidence, make new friends and learn something new.  Everybody aged 12-18 welcome, no previous experience necessary.
Rockschool
20th – 24th of August  |  11am-4pm  |  €75
This year’s Rockschool is going to be a brilliant week for all young people with an interest in music.  There will be workshops to advance your skills or introduce you to something new.  All aged 12-18 welcome no previous experience necessary.
REAL U
7th – 10th of August  |  12am-4pm  |  €20
This week is for girls aged 12-18 who want to gain confidence, find out more about relationships and learn how to stay healthy.  This will happen in a fun and active way and will also include a pamper day with make-up tuition, baking fun and more.
How to sign up?
To sign up simply fill out one of the sign up/membership forms. Pick up a form at 16-18 Port Road, Letterkenny.  Bring this form into the LOFT and to secure your place you can pay a deposit of €20.  Places will be given on a first come first served basis.  For more information please contact the LOFT on 074 91 29630 or via email on loftstaff@gmail.com.
 
Other things happening this summer
Drop in
The drop-in space is a safe and supervised space in which young people can meet their friends, speak to youth workers or simply hang out.  This space is jointly managed by the Youth Information Centre and the LOFT and is open:
Monday & Tuesday 12-6pm
Wednesday & Thursday 12-8pm
Friday 12-10pm 
Saturday 2-6pm
Events
There will be a variety of different events happening during the dorp-in times this summer including band nights, movie nights, cookery events and gaming competitions.  Please keep an eye out on our Facebook Page and the LOFT Instagram for any updates on these.
Individual Support
Staff in the LOFT provide individual support for all young people aged 12-24.  The summer can be a long and sometimes challenging time where young people can feel isolated or anxious about their future.  Please feel free to get in touch if you or someone you know could benefit from a little extra support.  Individual support is targeted and flexible to ensure the young person’s needs are met.
The LOFT is jointly managed by Foróige and Donegal Youth Service and funded by Tusla.  The LOFT is located at 16-18 Port Road, Letterkenny.  Phone: 074 91 29630  Email: loftstaff@gmail.com

Book a Summer Camp @ The Loft

Book a Summer Camp @ The Loft

Summer is fast approaching, even if it may not feel like it anymore since the first heat wave of the year has been replaced by what feels like constant rain.  Don’t let the weather get to you – book a Summer camp at The Loft and you’ll have something great to look forward to.  Summer camps are open to young people aged 12-18.  🙂

Multi Activity (3rd – 7th July) €70

A fun filled week of action packed activities to start the Summer off with a bang!

Cookery (10th – 14th July) €50

A week to learn to cook and enoy loads of tasty food from starters, to mains and sweet desserts.

Rockschool (31st July – 4th August) €70

Let your musical side come to life by taking part in this week.  Take part in master classes, jam sessions and gain confidence.

Fit for Lfe (8th – 11 August) €50

If you want to try out new sports, meet new people and get confidence and skills for your future then this week is right for you.

 

Summer Drop-in Times

 Monday to Wednesday 12 – 6pm

Thursday 12 – 8pm

Friday  12 – 10pm

Saturday  2 – 6pm

Sunday closed

The drop-in is a free space in Letterkenny for young people to meet friends in a comfortable, safe environment.  Facilities include a pool table, table tennis and a kitchen where young people can learn how to prepare healthy meals.  The drop-in is supervised by friendly staff and volunteers.  This space is open all year round in partnership with the Letterkenny Youth Information Centre.

 

LOFT (Learning Opportunities For Teens) Youth Project, 16-18 Port Road, Letterkenny. E-mail loftstaff@gmail.com or call (074) 91 29630 for more information or to book.