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February 28. 2013 9:05PM

Plentiful snow adds to Hancock conservation camp fun


Harris Center for Conservation Education teacher and naturalist Jaime Hutchinson guides children on an outdoor treasure hunt during the centers Winter Wol's Nest Vacation Camp Thursday morning. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

HANCOCK - Mother Nature came through for the Harris Center for Conservation Education Winter Wol's Nest Vacation Camp this week with plenty of snow for the program's self-guided and inquiry-based learning.

"We've been in snowshoes every day," said Harris Center teacher and naturalist Jaime Hutchinson, who guided a group of 7 and 8-year-olds through an outdoor treasure hunt Thursday morning that involved teaching the children to read a map and use a compass.

"Last year we didn't have any snow," she said.

This is the 38th year the Harris Center has offered the February school vacation break camp for children from kindergarten to the fifth grade, said camp director Jenn Sutton.

Activities include animal tracking, birding, snowshoeing, arts and crafts.

Sutton is not complaining about the amount and quality of snow this year.

"This has been phenomenal. This snow is sticky snow. It is deep snow and it's fresh and clean," she said.

"The snow has been very helpful with planning. It really allowed us to let the kids have a little bit more self-guided and inquiry based play."

From toddlers to adults, the Harris Center offers programs throughout the year to educate the public on the natural world and the importance of conservation.

Wol's Nest gives children an opportunity to explore the winter woods and have adventures while learning about nature and how to enjoy it, Sutton said.

"Anything we can do to get kids outside to explore and really move and just get more comfortable being outside is really our goal. Of course we want to educate them, but we really just want them to be more comfortable and aware of what's around them," Sutton said.

"We get very few quiet moments outside, but when we can just get them to circle up by the bird feeder or find a spot in the woods and get really quiet. It's amazing what they will hear. They will start picking out woodpeckers and different birds, so we can start to build on their knowledge that way."


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