May 11, 2015

The great outdoors awaits at summer camps

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- People of all ages can experience the great outdoors this summer at a wide variety of camps for children and adults at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. 

The Ed-venture camp is for children entering grades two through seven and includes several day camps: 

  • Animal Adventures, June 8-12, focusing on the many wild animals living in the area, including deer, bobcats, fish, eagles and owls, and how to protect their habitats and conserve and protect them. $185.
  • Clan of the Cave Kids, June 15-19, taking children back in time to an era when mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and other animals and primitive people roamed the land. They will learn about the changing relationships between people, animals and the land, and participate in mammoth tracking, cave painting, hunting and gathering and other ancestral skills while working together as a tribe. $185.
  • Blue Planet, June 22-26, exploring the wonderful world of water, the world’s vital natural resource, with water-based educational games, learning about aquatic animals, exploring water conservation, nature's filters, how to conserve and protect water and exploring the Little Grassy Lake watershed. $185.
  • Survival 101, July 6-10, providing campers with basic survival skills and information and featuring activities focusing on building a shelter, collecting water, making fire, identifying and collecting wild food and using natural and found materials. $185. 

Camps for children entering fifth and sixth grades include: 

  • Adventures are Underway Camp, an overnight camp June 8-12 featuring adventures all over the site including rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, the high ropes course, tie-dying T-shirts and more. Participants will learn basic survivor skills and enjoy roasting marshmallows on a camp fire. $525.
  • Wild Outdoor Camp (WOW), giving children the opportunity to experience fun outdoor activities including rock-climbing, swimming, canoeing and zip-lining as well as learn basic survival skills and tie-dye camp T-shirts. $250. 

The camp schedule for children who will be entering grades 7-9 includes: 

  • Sandstone Warriors, an overnight camp June 15-19, exploring the area’s sandstone bluffs, learning to use rock climbing equipment and traveling to locales including Jackson Falls and Cedar Bluff for adventures. $575.
  • River Runners, an overnight camp June 22-26, where campers learn to paddle and be comfortable on the water at Little Grassy Lake then spend the rest of the week on Missouri’s Eleven Point River, camping along the banks overnight, and ending up at Boze Mill Spring. $625.
  • Southern Adventures, a day camp July 20-24, giving participants the chance to discover the region’s hidden natural gems, climbing sandstone bluffs, exploring a swamp, snorkeling at a scuba training center. They will spend time a Touch of Nature as well as Jackson Falls, Piney Creek Ravine, Heron Pond, Lake Kinkaid and Mermet Springs. $300. 

Free transportation to and from the day camps from the SIU Arena parking lot will be offered. Ten percent discounts for the three overnight camps and six day camps will be available for children who register for three or more camps or for Touch of Nature Advocate members; discounts can’t be combined and other restrictions apply. 

Online registration is available at up until a week before the starting date of each camp. You may also register by calling 618/453-1121 or by visiting the office at 1206 Touch of Nature Road, about eight miles south of Carbondale off Giant City Road. Payment plans are available upon request. 

That’s not all Touch of Nature has in store this summer. 

Camp Little Giant, one of the first camps in the nation for adults and children with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities, returns with a full schedule of camps for youths and adults. Campers ages eight and older will enjoy swimming, boating, horseback riding, fishing, arts and crafts, sporting activities, scavenger hunts, dances, nature quests and other events designed specifically for them and their abilities and needs. The camp pairs four-eight campers with a minimum of two counselors in each cabin, and additional support where needed. There is medical support nearby and a focus on encouraging campers to be as independent as possible while providing all necessary assistance. 

Camp sessions are one to two weeks long and each session is designed for a specific population. Find the complete schedule, additional information, and online registration at Or, call 618/453-1121 for additional information. 

In addition, Touch of Nature and Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois are partnering to offer a residential camp experience July 19-25 for scouts of various ages. Visit www.gsofsi

and click on camp/outdoor experiences/TON resident camp for more information and registration details. Registration is due June 1.