Museum of Natural History Has Unusual Summer Camp
are running all over a dig site. A gorgeous day in a desert
serves as the stunning backdrop with clear blue skies and golden
sand stretching out as far as the eye can see. On stepping out
of the desert you enter a lab full of equipment. Multicolored
lights and pictures of scientists cover the walls, while dinosaur
bones and other artifacts lie ready for eager hands. The children,
each with their own field journal, are doing research on their
own, making observations and learning. All this in the heart
of Manhattan on a Wednesday afternoon at the American Museum
of Natural Historys version of summer camp, a colorful bus parked
outside the museum.
as a Movable Museum, the bus also visits other boroughs. Not
every day in camp has so exotic a setting, as most of the days
are spent within the Museum building itself and not in this
colorful bus. Campers are busy and learning all the time. Most
campers love it, some dont, but to paraphrase instructor Jenny
Lando youll never know unless you try.
camp runs for four weeksJuly 8 to August 2each with a different
focus, including paleontology, archeology, herpetology and astrophysics.
The kids are busy in the classroom, interacting with scientists
and participating in hands-on activities. For the paleontology
camp those activities include a trip to the Movable Museum,
the dig site and lab. The bus, with walls painted in a desert
landscape, is equipped with different workstations in which
the campers can practice hands-on all that they have learned.
There is also a project to create a mini-museum with each child
contributing a mini-exhibit. Many of the children chose to make
a clay model of their favorite dinosaur.
one week of museum fun the fee is $350. However, if you are
interested in signing up you are going to have to wait until
next year because this program is booked early. With the reviews
that children and the staff give to the program, its not surprising.
Morgan, 11, an aspiring paleontologist, says he likes camp because,
its interactive and I like being with people who share your
thoughts. Chris, on the other hand, didnt know a lot about dinosaurs.
When asked if he was glad he attended camp he energetically
staff, made up of full time museum workers and high school or
college interns, is equally energetic. Paleontology is something
I love, says Lando. She takes a week out of her regular job
to be a part of the summer camp. I was a teacher for five years
and loved seeing how the kids grew over the year. I missed seeing
that progression. She therefore jumped at the chance to work
with the camp. They are excited, she says of the campers, and
they keep us on our toes. The kids keep it different.
all the choices available for the summer, this camp offers a
unique twist. Children aged 9 to 11 can participate for all
four weeks or pick and choose what they are interested in. From
8:30 to 4:00, excluding a break for lunch, which occasionally
takes place in neighboring Central Park, the camp offers them
a safe place to be with resources that should be shared, says
Lando. The biggest difference is that its focused on a theme.
[As opposed to a conventional camp] it has a foundation in reality.
Kids who like science are aware they are part of a bigger community,
she adds of the camps appeal. So what have the children found
out so far? If the dinosaurs werent well enough to survive in
their environment, we can learn from them, says Morgan. And
you thought it was just a pile of bones!#