HAMILTON, NJ –  It's not too early to start planning summer camps for the kids!   The Mercer County Park Commission recently announced that registration for the Nature Program summer caps is now open.  The camps for children in grades pre-kindergarten to eighth grade are developed and instructed by the Park Commission’s team of naturalists

The newest addition to the program, the Tulpehaking Nature Camp, will run the week of Aug. 17 through 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton. With experienced naturalists at their side, campers will explore Roebling Park through hands-on explorations and experiments designed to enhance their connection with the natural world.

Children entering grades one through three can be registered for the Painted Turtles group where the camp day will be devoted to a different nature theme and feature, naturalist-led games, activities and hikes. A special “nature play” time is set aside daily for campers to become emerged in unstructured, self-directed outdoor exploration. For children entering grades four through six, the Snapping Turtles group will spend the mornings out on the trails exploring the marshlands while afternoons are spent learning about the natural world through inquiry-based experiments and projects. The Tulpehaking Nature Camp curriculum and activities are modeled after the wildly popular Baldpate Nature Camp.

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Running for its tenth season this summer, Baldpate Nature Camp will be held for four weeks: July 6 through 10, July 13 through 17, July 27 through 31 and August  3 through 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville. Baldpate Nature Camp is designed to enhance children’s natural affinity for the great outdoors. Hands-on nature explorations, science experiments, hikes through the forest and unstructured nature play create the foundation for each camp week. Camp days are devoted to a specific nature topic such as arthropods, forest ecology, birds and wildlife tracking. Children entering grades 1 through 3, the Chickadees group, will develop their connection with the natural world during “nature play,” a time set aside during the camp day for campers to explore and imagine nature their way. The Towhees group, for children entering grades 4 through 6, will spend mornings on exploratory hikes, where they will set foot on a new trail each day, equipped with their curiosity and encouraged to explore their environment. Nature experiments and studies will round out camp day afternoons.

The Aquatic Adventure Camp will be held June 22 through 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Mercer County Marina. If your child loves being on the water observing nature, then Aquatic Adventure Camp will be a perfect fit. Designed to balance the fun of summer with science, Aquatic Adventure Camp will have your child diving into freshwater ecology, testing Mercer Lake’s water, kayaking creeks and coves, and observing wildlife. Aquatic Adventure Camp’s Adventurers group is for children entering grades seven through nine and includes activities such as fishing, taking a ride on the pontoon boat, hiking and a cookout. Campers will memorialize their week by making a gyotaku T-shirt to take home. The Aquatic Adventure Camp will bring back the Anglers session for children entering grades 4 through 6 where campers will spend mornings casting their fishing lines into Mercer Lake. Species identification and size limits of the lake’s finned friends will be studied while practicing catch-and-release fishing. Children will also gain a better understanding of the lake’s biology.

Wild Discovery is a half-day summer camp designed as a playful introduction to the wonders of nature for children entering pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Running Aug. 10 through 14 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Baldpate Mountain in Titusville, campers will explore the ponds, fields and forests, and trek on the trails as they discover the wild kingdom. Hunts under rocks and logs and visits with live animals will increase campers’ awareness of our wonderful wild world. Each day of camp includes a morning story, nature-themed art project, a trail trek, snack time and exploration activities.

In addition to the new camp offering, the Park Commission is making after-care available for its full-day camps this season. Campers attending Baldpate Nature Camp, Aquatic Adventure Camp or Tulpehaking Nature Camp can stay for the after-party and enjoy nature-themed games, crafts and activities from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Spaces are limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. After-care is not available for Wild Discovery camp.

To register for the camps or learn more about them, visit www.mercercountyparks.org/#!/activities/summer-nature-camps.

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