May 09, 2014

New sessions, themes highlight Eco Camps

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill.  -- New sessions and new themes are on tap for the 2014 edition of Eco Camps at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. 

Children entering grades 2-7 this fall are welcome to participate in the hands-on experiential day camps.  The camps connect children to nature in a fun, exciting way and feature recreational, educational and artistic components.  Each camp offers swimming, canoeing and kayaking on Little Grassy Lake, hiking at Touch of Nature and much more.  

Each week has a specific theme. The educational activities relate to the theme, allowing children to increase their ecological awareness and giving them a better understanding of the world they live in. 

This is the eighth year for the Eco Camps, traditionally held for four weeks each June.  Two of the weeks this year have new themes and there are three different sessions coming to Touch of Nature for the first time. 

The schedule for Eco Camp 2014 is:

  • Animal Adventures, June 2-6:  Campers will study various animals including deer, turkey, bobcats, snakes, and owls and learn about their habitats and lifestyles. 
  • Survival 101, June 9-13:  Children will learn basic survival skills and discover how ancestral people lived in the pre-Columbian era.
  •  Blue Planet, June 16-20:  Another world exists below the surface of the planet’s waters and participants will explore the earth’s most precious resource and how to protect, enjoy and use it wisely.
  • Spaceship Earth, June 23-27:  This is a week devoted to studying the earth, our role on it and learning about the late R. Buckminster Fuller, SIU’s internationally known architect, inventor and sustainability proponent.
  • Camp SIBOGI, June 30-July 3:  Named for an actual camp in Touch of Nature’s legendary past, Southern Illinois Boys and Girls camp, this week will feature re-creations of activities and programs from previous camps.
  • Clan of the Cave Kids, Aug. 4-8:  Travel back in time to the day when mammoths, giant sloth, saber tooth cats, camels and lions roamed North America and explore the changing relationships between humans and animals.  Youths will even form a special eco camp tribe.
  • Return of the Wild Things, Aug. 11-15:  In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act passage, this camp will focus on how people manage land and the key components of species survival.  Participants will explore stewardship, conservation and personal ethics in wild lands and celebrate wild things. 

The cost for each camp session is $185, with the exception of Camp SIBOGI, which is a four-day event and costs $148.  Camp officials will also adjust the pricing for students unable to attend the full week of Animal Adventures if children are not out of school.  

The camp 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, children may ride free shuttle bus transportation from the SIU Arena.  The bus leaves the arena parking lot at 8 a.m. and returns about 4:30 p.m.  Supervision is provided for children only during those hours though so parents should note the timelines. 

Campers should bring sack lunches and water bottles to camp each day.  Snacks and water are provided.    

Camp sessions often fill quickly so officials encourage early registration.  To sign up, or for more information, visit or call 618/453-1121.