What a Summer we had at Welty!

Welty Camp Success! What a summer. Welty hosted 10-weeks and 2 days of summer camp in 2021 that saw a total 58 campers, 20 per week. Our team of charismatic and environmental career focused Camp Educators set a high bar for future camps. We set out and explored Big Hill Park as budding survivalists, naturalists, and scientists.

What do we love at camp? Shelter Building!

Each day of camp brought new hands-on explorations. Camper favorites included collecting tree data for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which can be seen on the Wisconsin Community Tree Map. They loved splashing around in Goose Creek and Turtle Creek with our new Environmental Educator, Darien Becker, and indexing macroinvertebrates and catching frogs. However, some of the most looked forward to activities of the summer were hosted by the Rock County Conservationists and led by retired Milton High School biology teacher and Welty board member, David Bendlin. Mr. Dave, as we called him, showed us how to forage for edible plants and took us to Turtle Creek. Last and not least, campers loved all the free books from the Stateline Community Foundation and the Stateline Literacy for Life Initiative’s Bookmobile.

With our team of charismatic and environmental career focused Educators we set out to explore Big Hill Park…

Beyond the science fun that we had at camp, I want to highlight the success Welty had in staffing camp with young adults interested in green careers or ecological science. Welty employed seven Camp Educators and three Junior Camp Educators (ages 13-15). Not only did they get to see how an environmental center and non-profit operate and engage with camp, but they also got to create their own curricula and activities. One favorite was cooking various treats with solar pizza-box ovens.

Summer was also full of activities with partner organizations. Thanks to a Stateline Community Foundation Grant, Welty worked with Community Action’s PREP Academy. They put up tents outside the center and enjoyed perfect weather for an overnight camp as well as an extended field trip full of hiking, shelter building, and turtles. The same grant also provided field trips for the Stateline Boys and Girls Club to visit Beckman Mill, Riverside Park, and Big Hill Park. The Colonel Morse Foundation provided funds to hire a summer intern who brought daily environmental education to the Stateline Boys and Girls Club’s summer camp. We even traveled via Zoom and by car to work with the Aram Public Library in Delavan, WI, participated in the virtual Nygren Wetland Preserve Family Nature Adventures, Peeked in the Creek at the Nature of the Confluence, and splashed around with the Merrill Community Center in Spring Brook at Leeson Park

…as budding survivalists, naturalists, and scientists.!

I am so grateful for a summer filled with people interested in getting outside, looking close, and learning more about the environment in which we live. I am also heartened by the number of people studying ecology or involved in science who want to help educate individuals in our community. If this sounds like you, please send me a note. We are always looking for like-minded volunteers, interns, and part-time seasonal employees!

Aaron Wilson
Program Director, WEC