The Secret Language of Birds & Bugs: July 15-20

It was a bugging good week for the Mountain Kids! Monday’s adventure on the Aspen Vista trail, accompanied by the Hummingbird’s hand-crafted bug catchers, provided a lovely introduction to a variety of our local bugs and birds. Tent Caterpillars painted the dirt paths and climbed up the aspen trees which allowed for fun and easy hands-on access to the little critters! After spending the morning reviewing some of the characteristics of different birds and bugs common in our area, the Hummingbirds practiced their creativity in a few rounds of bug and bird charades!

Wade, our wonderful bug friend in town, met with the team on Tuesday and guided us on a hike to several different bugs. The Mountain Kids learned about local spiders, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, water insects, and many more during their time at the Beaver Ponds.

With lots of new information concerning different bugs, the Hummingbirds were ‘antsy’ for their visit to the Bug Museum on Wednesday. The team met with Wade, again, at the Harrell House Bug Museum, where they held different bugs, watched the spiders and tarantulas get fed, and explored several different caged critters.

On Thursday, the Hummingbirds buzzed on over to the Santa Fe Raptor Center where they met with a variety of different owls and falcons and learned about their characteristics, diets, and different habitats. Each child was able to spritz one of the falcons with water to help him cool off in the heat. Boy – it sure was a hot one! The Hummingbirds also had their chance to cool off by splashing around in the river in El Rito.

We finished our day with watermelon and ‘appreciations’.  It was sweet to hear the kids appreciating new friends they had made, the birds they saw, bugs they met and the counselors who lead them throughout the week.

Friday was a sweet end to the week spent playing in the mud and water at Nambe Falls!

June 10 – 14: The Secret Language of Birds & Bugs

Our week began with a bug search on land and water in the Nature Conservancy with Wade, from the Harrell House Bug Museum. Thanks to Wade, we now know that the large black beetles we’ve been calling ‘stink bugs’ are really called ‘Darkling Beetles’! We had fun looking for and identifying bugs with Wade.

Tuesday found us at the New Mexico Wildlife center in Espanola, where we met an impressive variety of birds of prey in addition to two relaxed bobcats and a fox, each of which were enjoying their afternoon downtime. With a long day spent exploring the grounds of the Wildlife Center, the team cooled down in the Pojoaque Creek, where they splashed in the water and built mud castles. Fun!

Each camper made a bug catcher on Wednesday morning, just in time to carefully capture and release a number of cabbage white butterflies and crickets at the La Cieneguilla Petroglyph site, down airport road.

On Thursday our culminating bug trip was to The Harrell House Bug Museum, where we delighted in visiting with all sorts of scorpions, tarantulas, various beetles and a huge water monitor (rather like a Komodo dragon).

‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ will forever be ‘Head, thorax, abdomen’ to us, especially as we added antennae, mandibles and compound eyes to our action song! Becoming bugs together in bug charades infused us with fun and laughter and the necessary water frolicking was an essential part of our week together!


Photo Safari! June 8-11, 2015—Owls (7-8 Year Olds)

On their photo safari, the Owls fearlessly captured many pictures of their natural surroundings. Among the birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees, the cameras shuttered harmoniously. The Owls played with light and dark, macro and micro shots, and portraits, taking photos of rivers, flowers, trees, moss, and campers. Choosing one original photo, they also created photo transfers, which required diligent work. The memories of playing and observing are held within the owls’ photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Week 7 – July 14-17: Amazing Animals!

The Beaver Ponds is a magical place to make forts, discover special creatures, find ancient fossils and make new friends!

Eagles were paired with Owls to study animal skulls. They had to decide, are they predator or prey? What do they eat? How’s their sense of smell or hearing? Then they would share their discoveries with the rest of the group.

Animal pelts are interesting to examine and touch too!

The Espanola Wildlife Center is a great place to see birds that you might not normally see.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Friday was a fun day of exploring the Santa Fe Ski Basin without any snow. The creek that flows down Easy Street is a great place to cool off.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dirt, Rocks, and Clay! June 16-19, 2014

We began the week by learning about each other, camp rules and a Rock Song about the three types of rocks: Sedimentary, Igneous and Metamorphic.  Our adventure took us to Deer Creek where we got to see some great examples of sedimentary rock and talk about how it formed.  We collected special rocks for painting the next day, and had fun hiking and getting wet in the pools (Eagles) at Deer Creek!

Ditto for the Owls, except they explored different pools and played games!

Tuesday: We began our day with a great game of Park Ranger and some Rock Painting!  We sang the rock song and did a Dirt True and False before heading up the mountain.  The Eagles did a HUGE hike up to Raven’s Ridge!  Nice work, Eagles!  It was chilly, so we had to stay moving to keep warm!

The Owls also hiked along the Winsor Trail to a beautiful meadow where they played rock games and explored.

Wednesday: Galisteo Basin Preserve.  Morning games and working with clay were followed by a quick stop in Galisteo where the mosquitoes were out and biting – one of the drawbacks of all the lovely June rain!  We quickly aborted this location and found some great dirt, rocks and clay to explore at the Galisteo Basin Preserve.

Thursday: Tsankawi.  Our final stop for Dirt, Rocks and Clay was the amazing ruins at Tsankawi.  We talked about volcanoes and made a human volcano at Fort Marcy before we headed out.  it is always impressive to see the remains of the supervolcano that erupted and is now the Valles Caldera.  We found pottery shards and obsidian and arrow heads on our hike to the caveates.


The Secret Language of Birds! June 9-12, 2014.

The Secret Language of Birds is a new theme this year, and one which we LOVED!  We talked about “what makes a bird and bird” by playing a True and False game with our bodies.  Once we arrived at the Beaver ponds, everyone received their own bird behavior checklist and we talked about why birds perform each of the behaviors.  We acted out the behaviors and had the campers guess which one we were doing. Before setting off, each buddy pair received a pair of  binoculars to use during our hike.  It was awesome to witness the kids focus and interest in finding birds and deciding which behavior they were engaged in.  We saw lots of birds, some animal tracks, and found fossils as we hiked around the entire pond.

On Tuesday we ventured to Deer Creek after a story about birds and games at Fort Marcy.

The Owls (5-7 year olds), hiked, played, did sit spots and worked in their nature journals.

The Eagles did a big hike all the way to the pools where they had a chance to cool off in the icy cold water!

On Wednesday we talked about the five different voices of birds and the kids had a chance to act out the voices and talk about why birds will use each voice.  We compared some of these to human behavior (i.e. juvenile begging!).  On the Winsor Trail we had the opportunity to hear the bird language in real life and made educated guesses at what we thought the birds were saying to each other, or to other animals in the forest.

On Thursday we talked about some common birds and played games to learn what they are. Our adventure was to the Wildlife Center where we got to get up close to owls, hawks, eagles and some small mammals including fox and bobcat.  It was fascinating to hear the stories about how the animals got there and how we can help keep them in the wild.

Owls Explore Amazing Animals (and more!:) June 2-5, 2014 (5-7 year olds)

Hello Owl Families!  If you read and enjoy the BLOG, please let me know…. write a comment, or send me a quick note.  Constructive feedback is also appreciated!  BTW, any of the images below can be enlarged and viewed as a slideshow by clicking on them.  Enjoy! :~) Katie

Monday: Before we took off for the mountains, we played games, we learned names, and made a group contract (rules about how to have fun)!  We snacked and buddied, and then loaded up for our adventure at the Big T!

The Owls hiked and paused for lunch and play.  We talked about animals of New Mexico and played animal charades  and frog detective.  We got animal names and got into our roles as we listened to the forest and tried to think like our animal.  We had story time and snack time before heading back to the Adventure van and Fort Marcy!

On Tuesday we hiked along the Rio en Medio.  Before we set out, we played a game where we learned and practiced various animal gaits.  At circle we got to examine the skulls of various forest animals of New Mexico and thought about how certain traits aid their survival. Some kids drew animals using the Ed Emberly books.

On the trail we played “Stalk”, drew in our nature journals, played in the river, explored the forest, had fun, got wet, and found wondrous things!

We learned a song called Bats Eat Bugs on Wednesday.  It’s a great reminder that “nothing out there wants to eat you, nothing out there wants to make you it’s meal!”  We looked at Animal pelts and paws today and talked about each local animal and some if it’s characteristics.

Our adventure took us to the Ski Basin where we found out how cold that water really was by dunking our heads!  It was silly and felt great on this hot summer day!  We played the Habitat Web game and learned how everything in the forest is connected and depends on one another for survival.  We pressed flowers, found insects, sang songs, and got dirty.  A super day!

Thursday: We were busy as little beavers today!  We learned about Beaver adaptations and dressed up some unsuspecting children to illustrate them.  We hiked along the Little T(esuque Creek) and tried our hand at beavering, a.k.a. dam making.  It was hard to make the water stop completely, but we sure slowed it down, and had fun working together in the process. I wonder how beavers need to work together to build their den?  We played some (other) team building games and made scrolling animal stories.  The End ~ of a(nother) and (FUN!) week.

May 27th – 30th: Owls at Play! with Tremendous Trees and Wonderful Wildflowers!

Yes, it’s true,  the Owls (formerly known as Littles), may have broken the Cute-O-Meter out in the National Forest this week!!

From the Big Tesuque to the Norski Trails, and from the Beaver Ponds to magical Deer Creek, these adorable explorers met trees and found flowers.  They Built-a-Tree AND Built-a-Flower. They made shelters and double-decker forts. They got dirty and got wet. They learned about Producers and Consumers and pretended to be that. They met new buddies and made friends with the earth.

They learned a BIG word which they may not recall, Biomimicry, ‘mimicking life’ with the Mirror Game helped to make it small.

Sit Spots and singing songs ~ yes, “Our roots DO go down, down to the earth~”

Flying like eagles and jumping like frogs, running like cheetahs and laying down like logs.

The Cute-o-Meter is broken~ it does not go that high!

Yes, it was a tremendously wild, and wonderful, first week of Mountain Kids Summer 2014.