Crow’s Nest Camp Week Five
By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager. Photos by Molly Smyrl, Pete Smyrl, Aubrey Smith, Serena Hertzog, and Daniel Barringer.
Our last week of camp is a joyous reunion of campers who have attended Crow’s Nest camp for many years. The logistics of the week are difficult as we are kayaking for two days and taking field trips to see other Natural Lands preserves—and at 29 campers, we had our largest group ever. But having great kids made it all come together smoothly.
We first practice kayak skills and T-rescues on the still waters of Scotts Run Lake in French Creek State Park adjacent to Crow’s Nest. While one third of the group is on the water, another is hiking around the park, and the last is doing cooperative games with Cody Hudgens (such as passing the coffee cup, I mean nitroglycerin, over hot “lava”—somewhat more difficult than these guys made it look).
These campers are already very familiar with Crow’s Nest so our goal is to show them how our preserve fits into the regional conservation picture. Nonetheless we had time to visit our favorite spots at Crow’s Nest such as the wire bridge and the creek. Below, a little snapper…
For one of our field trips we visited Green Hills Preserve, where Aubrey and I used to work part time when we were also managing Crow’s Nest, and where camp counselor Erin Smith now works. We posed for two pictures (big group) on the footbridge there. Green Hills is a place where Natural Lands has done a lot of restoration so it was fun to show off our work to the kids.
We spent a day visiting Fulshaw Craeg Preserve, a counselor and kid favorite, and spent a day kayaking on the Schuylkill River (going up the canal to Lock 60 in Mont Clare, then downstream on the river). Natural Lands has been involved in many projects on the river, including the boat launch we used on one of the portages.
The best part is seeing these kids, whom we’ve known since they were little, growing into young adults who are comfortable with themselves in nature. Below, lunch near St. Peter’s Village after a visit to the swimming hole there.
While camp stops at eighth grade we do offer programs for kids who have aged out: the Teen Naturalist program. And we hope that these kids will stop back and visit from time to time. Crow’s Nest camp is now in its 21st year and it is pretty wonderful to see former campers return, sometimes with their own kids and certainly with a new perspective on the role that Crow’s Nest played in their lives.