All of this cold weather makes us long for when we take our 4th graders to Camp Thompson to enjoy the fresh outdoors and the scents of the forest. Spending time at Camp Thompson may sound like quite an undertaking with 36 students, but for us, it is easily one of the most enjoyable Academy traditions. Each year we take our kids, their bags, and tons of food to that special little spot between Laurel and Fuller lakes along the historic Appalachian Trail. Our students spend two days at camp, experiencing nature through a scavenger hunt, a “stream stomp,” a campfire, and walks in the woods.
As we trounce down to the stream, we are entertained by the students’ laughter and the beauty of the forest. Approaching the wooden bridge that spans the stream, we meet up with Mr. Greg Bowman and Ms. Robyn Katzman Bowman, former Academy parents, from the Department of Environment Protection. Mr. Bowman has been instructing our students for years on how environmental run-off affects creatures living in the stream. After careful instruction, the students are ready to be introduced to the stream life. Students are given a chart of aquatic animals, which they use to identify specimens that have been carefully placed in jars. Then they have the chance to get into the water to do some exploring of their own!
Entering the cool water is a bit of a shock to the body as it rushes over our feet. But with each careful step, more of our body enters the water and we can reach in to lift up rocks, revealing crayfish and other prized catches. Before we know it, two hours have passed and we’re not ready to get out of the water! So we stay in until everyone is drenched. The kids, knowing that it is time to go, plead “Can we come back tomorrow, too?” We give them a monotone, “No, we will leave tomorrow.” Sadly, they ask the same question the next day when we have to leave the serene environment of Camp Thompson and go back to the city. Again our answer is a melancholy, “No.” But secretly we whisper to the camp “We will see you next year.”