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Camps provide fun along with education
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Campers looking for a little education along with their recreation this summer should check out camps offered by Mississippi State University.
Various camps are available on campus as well as in individual counties.
Bug Camp, a four-day, interactive opportunity to learn about entomology and plants, has been attracting children and adults to MSU’s campus since 1994. It is the only camp of its kind in the world and attracts participants from across the United States.
“The camp has been extremely successful in producing young people who want to pursue entomology or horticulture as a career,” said John Guyton, entomology specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service. “One of Mississippi’s leading spider authorities is now a college sophomore who attended MSU’s Bug Camp. We have eight to 10 former campers who are now pursuing degrees in entomology.”
Guyton said the camp’s strong academic focus is what draws attendees each year.
“Each summer we add something new,” he said. “This year we will be taking electron microscopes into the field. We will also look at insect pheromones in the biochemistry lab.”
Bug Camp will be June 17 to 21 on the MSU campus. The camp is open to children 10 years old and up, parents and teachers. Teachers may earn continuing education units. Cost to attend is $350 per person. Online registration will be open by May 14. For more information on Bug Camp, contact Guyton at (662) 325-2085 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plant Camp, coordinated by Desoto County Master Gardeners, is another summer camp available to youth interested in learning about gardening.
“Our master gardener group keeps the camp hands-on,” said Joy Anderson, horticulture agent and county director for Desoto County. “They give the kids the opportunity to get dirty. They are outdoors doing activities. The kids love it, and the master gardeners love doing it.”
This summer’s camp, “How Does Your Garden Grow?” will be held June 11 to 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Desoto County Extension office.
Anderson said the camps usually incorporate a little bit of history into the curriculum.
“This year the kids will learn about how gardening developed and about certain gardening techniques,” she said. “They will plant potatoes, garden in hay bales, and learn about lasagna gardening.”
As society becomes more urbanized, camps that give kids the tools to connect with nature are even more important.
“It is imperative that we give our kids a basic appreciation for agriculture,” said Lelia Kelly, horticulture specialist with MSU’s Extension Service. “Our youth are not being raised on or near farms now, so many kids do not understand where their food and clothing comes from. It is essential for them to understand those things.”
Plant Camp is open to kids ages 8 to 18. For more information, contact Joy Anderson at (662) 429-1343.
To learn about other camps offered by MSU’s Extension Service, contact the local county Extension office.