While going on a plant safari to collect leaves and flowers for plant pressings, campers stop by the North Pond to observe a turtle up close.
Time flew by during the three weeks of camp at Duke Gardens. To start off this post, I’ll introduce the general structure/organization of the camps. The campers are divided into 2 age groups, 5-7 and 8-11, each with around 10-15 kids. Each group has a theme of the week, and the activities during the week mostly revolve around the theme. The themes we’ve done so far include Become a Scientist, Treasure Hunters, Science of the Sun, Animal Homes, and Animals in the Garden. In the morning, from 8:30 to 1, a camp leader and assistant lead planned activities. In the afternoon, from 1 to 4, some campers stay and choose from a wide range of activities indoors or outdoors. The two age groups are mixed together in the afternoon, and there are generally about 5-10 kids around. We’ve done a lot of really awesome activities during the morning: building a solar oven, making a nature mandala, putting together a bone display after digging through an owl pellet, taking walks through the garden with binoculars and having kids running through the sprinklers that seemed to follow us everywhere, and going on a scavenger hunt when it’s about 100 degrees outside and savoring the prize – popsicles at the end. The afternoon varied more with the group of kids who’re staying. When the campers are mostly girls, arts and crafts seemed to be the top choice for the whole afternoon. During the week with more boys, making paper airplanes and throwing them all over the classroom became the most popular activity. When the kids get too rowdy, watching a movie is always a great solution. In the rest of this post, I’ve included several of the funny scenes I’ve observed that added to my experience and made it much more colorful.
Scene 1 – Math Dilemma: I was outside with 2 kids who were making up their own game. They got a bucket of (tree) gum balls and drew 4 circles in a line, each with a different number of points (1, 5, 10, 16). They took turns throwing the gum balls and tried to hit the circles to get highest number of points. They used chalk to keep tally of the scores.
Boy: What’s 16 plus 16?
Boy: How do you write that?
Me: 3 and 2.
Boy: [Writes on the ground] Ohhh, ok.
A minute later…
Boy: What’s 34 plus 16?
Me: 50. Wait, how did you get 34?
Boy: Well, you told me I had 34.
Me: No, I think I said 32.
Boy: [Ignores me] 50 points!
After a few rounds…
Boy: What’s 824 plus 1?
Me: 82… How did you get to 800 already?
Boy: [Happily] I got a lot of perfect throws.
A few minutes later…
Boy: What’s 118 plus 16?
Me: [Thinking “how did the score decrease?” to myself] 134.
Boy: How do you write that?
Me: 1, 3, 4.
Boy: [Writes 1034 on the ground, pauses, then looks at the score] Yay! I have a thousand and thirty four points!
Another boy: [Awestruck] Whoa, that’s a lot of points!
Me: [Saying to myself] They’re just playing for fun, the score doesn’t matter, the score doesn’t matter, the score doesn’t matter……
Scene 2 – Sausage: During the morning camp this week, we had some free time, and one girl suggested that we play a game of “Sausage”, where one person started in the middle and everyone else sat around in a circle. People who’re in the circle ask questions, and the middle person always has to say “sausage” with a straight face, no matter what the question is. They lose if they crack a smile or laugh, and the person who asked the funny question gets a turn in the middle. In the end, they loved it so much that we played the game every day, and they even started using different words to replace sausage. Here are some questions that seemed to work exceptionally well:
What do you dream about at night?
What do you have under your pants/what comes out of your butt?
What’s 2 plus 2 plus 1 times 4 (and many variations)?
What comes out of your eyes when you cry?
What do you have under your dress?
If you were a mermaid, what would you wear here [points at chest]?
Scene 3 – Short remarks: The afternoon kids decided to build a fort by putting together tables and covering the sides with large poster paper. Two girls were making a “Girls – no boys allowed” sign inside the fort and having a conversation, which was cut short by a parent’s arrival, but it still sounded hilarious at the time.
Girl 1: Dude, this is gonna be awesome!
Girl 2: [Somewhat offended] Dude, I’m not a dude!
Girl 1: Oh yeah, you’re a dudette!
Girl 2: No, I’m not a dudette either. [Mom arrives]
Scene 4 – Tween Problem: Afternoon, one of the older campers is talking to me about school.
Girl: I’m so glad that I’m not going to Glenwood (elementary school in Chapel Hill).
Me: [surprised] Wait, why? I heard it’s a really good school.
Girl: [explains] No, it’s not. They have to dance with the boys at the end of 5th grade. Ewwww.
Me: [flabbergasted] Oh, ok……
Scene 5 – Star Wars: There are 2 boys named Ryan staying for the afternoon care.
Girl: [thoughtfully] Ryan and Ryan. Hmmm, how do I tell you guys apart?
Girl: [excitedly] I know, I’ll just call you Ryan 1 and Ryan 2.
Me: Who’s 1 and who’s 2?
Girl: [points] Well, this is Ryan 1 and this is…
Girl: [Having an epiphany] Wait, never mind, I’ll just call you Ryan 1 and R2d2 (Star Wars).
~ Mengyun Lu