Summer Campers in Nature

A day trip to Henry Cowell State Park took DaVinci Dragons into the beauty, calm and filtered light of the ancient redwood forest.

Summer Campers in Nature
Summer campers look for signs of banana slugs in the clover at Henry Cowell State Park.

The benefits of spending time in nature are well known – improved sense of well-being, better memory and focus, stress reduction and more. For children, spending time in nature with friends and teachers brings the delight of discovering new things together: spotting wildlife, breathing in the scent of plants, observing nature's curiosities, and learning about the world around them.

A day trip to Henry Cowell State Park took DaVinci Dragons into the beauty, calm and filtered light of the ancient redwood forest.

The trip was designed with a combination of learning and exploration. Campers first met a volunteer ranger who talked about a tree in northern California that lived to be 2,200 year old. Campers were able to touch the massive slice of this tree and learned how touching it with the back of the hand allowed them to feel the tiny ridges of each ring with their fingernail. She also told them about the hike they'd be going on, and alerted them to some of the wildlife they could look out for along their walk.

A volunteer ranger explains what campers can look out for on their hike in the redwoods.

Close examination of the tree trunk slab inspired many comments and discussions.

Children touch and examine the ancient tree's rings.

Then it was time for the hike – in this case, a roughly one mile loop with numbered stops along the way where campers learned more about specific types of trees or habitats at that site.

Example of a tree growing multiple trunks with a shared root system.
A tree with a tunnel!
Navigating the trail down to the river.
The perfect spot for wading and finding minnows.

Wildlife spotted included:  minnows, stellar jays, squirrels and a male deer. Banana slug tracks were spotted near clover, though not the slug itself!

The deer was seen grazing quietly deeper in the forest.

A camper with keen eyes spotted a deer in the forest, quite a distance from the trail. The campers all became hushed and watched it from afar as it looked for things to eat on the forest floor.

A final highlight was going inside the John C. Fremont tree. This living specimen has a hollow space inside the size of a small room! The record number of people inside that hollow was 86. We entered in several groups of 12-17 people at a time -- much more comfortable. There had been a fire at some point, and the tree had even experienced flames, but the tannins in the redwood bark protected it and it did not burn. Inside, however, the walls were darkened. A volunteer ranger explained that it was rumored that John C. Fremont (and possibly Kit Carson) had slept there during a storm when first mapping the west. The space had also once had beds put in it as a special room for the resort that had once existed there.

Inside the John C. Fremont tree. The inner height rose at least two stories.

Join us at DaVinci Summer Camp for weekly excursions and Academics, Athletics, Arts and Adventure!