May 04, 2012

WOW camps offer introduction to the outdoors

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Wild Outdoor Week (WOW) camps at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center are truly a “wow” experience in more ways than one.

WOW Camp is set for July 16-20 and youths entering grades 5-8 this fall are welcome.  WOW Southern Adventures Camp is July 23-27 for youths entering grades 7-10 this fall.  Both camps emphasize learning and individual growth via outdoor adventure experiences.

“I am very excited to be offering our day camps again this year.  The campers really have a lot of fun coming out here to Touch of Nature.  Highlights this year include canoeing, rock climbing, swimming and of course, our high ropes course,” Travis Geske, assistant program coordinator, said.

Geske said the WOW camp is a wonderful introduction to the great outdoors for boys and girls, giving them a sampler of the many programs Touch of Nature’s Underway Adventures Program offers.  The camp activities also include hiking, team building and much more.

The WOW Southern Adventures Camp takes participants to locations around the region including Giant City State Park, Little Grand Canyon, Panther’s Den Wilderness, Bald Knob Wilderness, Garden of the Gods and areas within the Shawnee National Forest.  Participants learn by doing -- obtaining experiential knowledge of camping, hiking, orienteering, backpacking, canoeing and outdoor survival basics.

During Southern Adventures, participants will go rock climbing on the sandstone bluffs of Makanda and test their mettle on the Touch of Nature high ropes course and zip-line.  They will enjoy team-building experiences, too. The camp concludes with an overnight campout where they will test their newfound awareness and skills.

“At our Southern Adventures camp, we will be trekking all over Southern Illinois, exploring the gems of our beautiful area.  We have packed a lot of adventure into these days and when it is all over, the campers will have many great stories to share about their summer,” Geske said. 

Both camps are at a beginning skill level and no previous experience is necessary in order to enjoy WOW.  The registration fee is $250 for WOW Camp and $300 for WOW Southern Adventures.  Space is limited and registration is on a first-come basis, so sign up early.

The camps meet from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with the exception of the overnight included in the Southern Adventures camp.  Parent may bring children to Touch of Nature, about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road, or take advantage of free, supervised shuttle transportation service from the SIU Arena to the camp.  The bus pickup will be at 8 a.m. and children will return to the arena lot about 4:30 p.m.

For more information or to register for either of the WOW camps, visit the TON website at, or call 618/453-1121.