Kids go wild for Wildlife Camp

After learning how to cook a meal over an outdoor fire at Wildlife Camp, Gayle McFarland, a volunteer, Stephen Kleiss, Skyler Thomas, Gunnar Rehbine, Jordan McGoffin and Mason McFerrin eat what they had cooked. Photo by Jim Davis/Murfreesboro Parks & Rec.
Gunnar Rehbine learns how to shoot a crossbow at Wildlife Camp from TWRA instructor Don Crawford. Photo by Jim Davis/Murfreesboro Parks & Rec.
Jordan McGoffin inserts another shell into a shot gun as participants in Wildlife Camp where they were taught how to shoot skeet at Big Springs Clay Target. Working with McGoffin is Micah Meshotto. Photo by Jim Davis/Murfreesboro Parks & Rec.
Camper Stella Craze
Camper Aubrey McCamey

Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department offered various camps this summer. One of the new camps on the every growing list was Wildlife Camp. Based out of the Wilderness Station at Barfield Park, the participants had a week of constant moving and learning.

“The activities that were in the week of Wildlife Camp are activities that we already offered in Parks and Rec.” said Rachel Singer, program coordinator at the Wilderness Station. “The idea of this camp was to create a perfect fit of those activities by combining all of them into one week.”

A few of those activities had the campers visiting Radnor Lake in Nashville for hiking where they also studied birds of prey and visited the parks new aviary. They participated in the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency fish ID program, kayaked on Percy Priest Lake and went fishing. 

They participated in box turtle research at Nickajack Wetlands, learned how to cook in the outdoors at Barfield Campground plus they were taught archery by TWRA using compound bows and crossbows. 

The campers had a chance to handle and learn about reptiles from the Reptile Guy while also studying about Tennessee mammals. The highlight for most of the campers was going skeet shooting at the end of the week.   

Aubrey McCamey, a student in Central Magnet School, was one of the campers.

“When I saw all the things the camp offered I immediately signed up” said McCamey.“I thought wow, this has to be great. Because unlike other camps where they just talk about or show you about different outdoor things, this camp they were actually going to let you do it. 

“The instructors do teach good safety in everything we did but the main thing that made this camp so great was we got hands on. It had a great variety for us to do. One day we are in our bathing suit in a kayak on a lake, or we would be swimming in the river and the next day we are wearing safety googles and sound repressors and trap shooting. It was a great week for me.”

According to Singer, Tennessee is a state rich in diversity among plants, animals, habitats and outdoor sports. Wildlife Camp exposed the participants to as many as could be fit into a week.

“I saw a big change in the way the campers were treating their outdoor surroundings from Monday to Friday,” said Singer. “I think every camper finished the week with a greater appreciation of the outdoors. I do believe we met our goals with the camp and campers.”

“This type of opportunity is invaluable in our community” added Singer. “The outdoor activities are there but sometimes the community just needs help connecting to them. Our mission with Outdoor Murfreesboro at the Wilderness Station is to connect people with the natural world through exposure to various outdoor experiences.”

Wildlife Camp is for boys and girls from the ages of 9-12 years old. A fee is required for the week long camp which will return next summer. 

Polling the campers, archery, kayaking and trap shooting top the list as the most popular of the weeks programs. Everyone of the 16-campers expressed a wish to return next year.  

“I just love the outdoors and some of the things that were offered in Wildlife Camp were things I had not done but I had wanted to do” said Stella Craze, a third grader at Cedar Hall who added that her grandmother saw the camp advertised and since I am an outdoor person she thought it would great for me.  

“I really did like the trip to Radnor Lake where we did a long hike and got to see some wildlife that was interesting,” said the nine-year old. “They taught us how to cook over an open fire and we got to do some real interesting things. I want to come back next year and do this again”

Need more information:

For more information on Wildlife Camp and other camps offered through Murfreesboro Parks and Rec. Wilderness Station contact Rachel Singer at 615-217-3017.

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