May 15, 2013

‘Eco Camp’ nature camps bring summer fun, education

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Hands-on learning will take on a whole new meaning in June as children immerse themselves in nature at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center.

Four different adventure sessions will comprise Eco Camp, which is in its seventh year.  The four very different experiential camps are for children entering second through seventh grade this fall.  Each weeklong experience has a different theme and will give children a heightened ecological awareness and a better understanding of the world around them.  Camp organizers say the camps are educational and yet so much fun that the children do not even realize they are learning.

The schedule for Eco Camp 2013 includes:

  • Animal Adventures, June 3-7:  Animals are amazing creatures and in this session, campers will explore the world of animals and their basic survival needs.
  • Survival 101, June 10-14:  Youths will return to a different historical era to learn how Native Americans used the land to meet all of their basic survival needs.
  • Wonderful Water, June 17-21:  There is a completely different world living in the water and campers will explore the world beneath the surface.
  • Planet Earth, June 24-28:  Find out more about the beautiful world and how to protect it and keep it healthy.

The cost is $185 per week.  Children can save $40 and participate in all four sessions for $700.  Campers will also receive a T-shirt this year with registration.

Each session runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Touch of Nature Environmental Center.  Parents may drop children off at the camp, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road.  Or, they can utilize the free shuttle bus transportation from the SIU Arena.  The bus leaves the lot at 8 a.m. and returns about 4:30 p.m.  There is supervision for children only during those times, however, so parents should note the timelines.   

Eco Camp participants should bring sack lunches and water bottles to camp each day.  Touch of Nature will provide snacks and water. 

There is a limit of 40 campers for each session and it is common for camps to fill quickly, so officials encourage early registration.  To sign up, or for more information, call 618/453-1121 or visit the website at