2018 Wa-Ya Camp Curriculum


Week 1: June 25-29, 2018

Birds and Bugs 


Our first one week camp will introduce campers to entomology (the study of insects) and ornithology (the study of birds) while hiking through forests, and along rivers and lakes, all over the South Sound region. Have you ever wondered why birds migrate, what a baby dragonfly looks like, or how these animals fly or communicate? We know that animals can tell us a lot about where we live Birds and bugs are some of the best (and most easily visible) examples of this. Campers will have the opportunity to identify, inspect and collect bugs, and we will seek to identify birds through binoculars and by listening to their songs. We'll look at how these animals live, and impact their environment, and what their presence and absence can tell us about a habitat.

Hiking through mountain forests, wetland trails and along rivers allows campers to see and experience some of the diversity that the South Sound area offers. The exciting and beautiful routes also offer adventure, physical activity and the camaraderie of a hiking group that learns to encourage each other along the way. While we hike, campers are always encouraged to explore what they see through lenses of scientific discovery,  respect for the environment, and have fun along the way.

Campers will learn to identify many of the animals that are native to our region, develop  an understanding of how animals change their habitats, and learn how the composition and quality of a habitat affects which animals will be resident. Campers will end this week with hiking experience as well as the self confidence that comes with successfully completing both physical and academic challenges!

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Week 2: July 2,3,5,6, 2018 . (no camp on July 4th)

Acting Outside the Box

This adventurous week pairs the art and creativity multimedia- photography and video-with the science and technology that makes these art forms possible.

Included in this camp are discussions and practice of narrative storytelling, acting in front of a camera, nature photography, and video. Campers will learn to become more comfortable speaking and acting in front of an audience and a camera We will learn together about collaborative creative process, all in an outside environment that allows the campers to think, move and act in a way that follows their creative spirit.  

Campers will also learn more about being behind the camera. They will learn about artistic composition balance and exposure, helping them communicate better through the photos they take. They will learn about the physics of light, color, and sound and how a camera’s sensor works.  Campers will learn what makes up a moving image, and they will get to use some of the tools that make this incredible technology possible.

Finally, campers will learn how people (and other animals we may see during our camp) sense light and sound from a comparative anatomy and physiology perspective. At the end of this week, we hope campers walk away with a love of performance, an understanding of the technology behind photography and video, as well as a broader scientific understanding of light and sound.



Week 3 & 4: July 6-13 and 16-20, 2018

Survival and plant science!

No one truly plans to be in a survival situation- the type of situation where you’re lost or stranded in the elements; having to manage being tired, cold, thirsty, hungry or sick. Knowing how to build shelters, collect and filter water, find food and medicine before signaling for help can mean life or death in many situations.

We will be teaching advanced survival skills such as bushcraft, fire-craft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, and navigation by a natural means.  We also plan to catch, prepare and cook marine invertebrates and vertebrates such as crab, clams, oysters or fish. Additionally, knowing plant science can truly help you in a survival situation. During both sessions campers will learn about botany and how to use plants for survival, and learn to also identify plants that can be dangerous. In the Pacific Northwest alone, there are well over one-hundred plants that can be eaten or used as medicine. WaYa campers will have the opportunity to make medicinal salves and much more.  At the end of this week, campers will be more aware of the value and uses of the natural resources that surround us and gain tools that help them stay safe in a dynamic outdoor environment.  

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Week 5 & 6: July 23-27 and July 30 - August 3, 2018

Geology Rocks! and Rolls!

Nestled between mountains and volcanos, rivers and the Puget Sound, Olympia is the perfect place to observe the some of the most diverse geologic terrain in North America.   We will explore the science and outdoor adventure behind rivers and rocks of our favorite places.  Campers will learn about plate tectonics and geologic formations from volcanos to glaciers and the dynamic processes of our river systems.

Rivers in the Pacific Northwest provide so much life and our cultures and communities depend on healthy rivers. Campers will learn the big picture of how rivers move land and create land formations through erosion. They are important to our environment, economy and our everyday lives, and provide vast habitats for many organisms.  

The Deschutes River crosscuts glacial and basalt deposits and provides a refreshing opportunity to see these formations exposed in the stream banks.  We will also visit Capitol State Forest and hike to outcrops containing fossils of marine invertebrates, similar to their modern equivalents in the Puget Sound, observe the rare environment of Mima Mounds, and visit hidden geological secrets.

Campers will learn adventure skills from floating the Deschutes River, hiking and scrambling in Capitol Forest, and testing their skills at rock climbing in the safety of an indoor climbing gym.

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Week 7 & 8: August 6-10 and 13-17, 2018

Puget Sound Marine Biology

Pollution and climate change have an enormous impact on the worlds oceans. Some of these impacts can be seen in the pacific northwest, specifically in the South Puget Sound region. During both sessions campers will have an opportunity to explore South Puget Sound’s marine biodiversity by traveling in kayaks. Activities will incorporate basic safety and fundamentals of kayaking in near-shore conditions. Additionally, students will learn to design and engineer plankton nets, quads for biodiversity sampling, and analyze the samples on shore. By the end of the second session we will take a kayak journey to Anderson Island. During our visit we will explore and identify organisms on and around the island, learn sampling techniques, and study marine phytoplankton. Campers will learn to identify organisms by their common and binomial name. They will also learn the phylum and classifications for each organism. Day to day course activities will, of course, require the cooperation of weather and tidal conditions. 

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Week 9 & 10: August 20-24 and 27 - 31, 2018

The Best of WaYa!

The Evergreen State is home to diverse ecological systems and human populations.  Humans have long thrived along the shores of the Puget Sound and it is essential that we continue to care for the estuaries, forests, and prairies so that they can be sustained for future generations.  During the first week, campers will learn about key conservation challenges in the Puget Sound and what people are doing to address them.  They will get to see and contribute to an estuary restoration project and learn about the special and rare South Puget Sound Prairies.  We will learn about both traditional and emerging land management practices and be exposed to different volunteer and community engagement opportunities.  Campers will create art demonstrating the connections between forests, prairies and estuaries.

During the second week, we will utilize all the skills learned throughout the summer.  This action-packed session includes hiking, kayaking, and identification of birds, animal tracking, entomology, and outdoor wilderness survival.  On the last evening of camp, campers and their families are invited to join us for a potluck where we will learn camp cooking skills, and  learn about program accomplishments.  Several stations and coursework materials from camp themes will be available for family members to explore.

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