Hands-on gardening activities at youth summer camp | Home and garden

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Summer camp. No need to pack; sunglasses and a hat are enough. Memorable experiences will be provided by Victoria County’s Master Gardeners as they host a summer camp for boys and girls ages 6-12 June 13-17 at Victoria Educational Gardens at Victoria Regional Airport.

Camps should be a combination of learning and fun. After all, it’s summer. No tests or homework, just new friends and new adventures. The five-day Growing Healthy Kids camp includes hands-on activities, tours of VEG gardens, plays, games, guest speakers and songs.

Food plants in the garden

Growing Healthy Kids (the name of our camp) aspires to teach children about nutritious foods and gardening experiences. In today’s world of fast food and large grocery stores, many children are unable to identify fresh fruits and vegetables or their origin.

As master gardeners, we know we can’t grow a watermelon or tomatoes in a week, but our goal is to “plant a seed” on healthy foods and encourage children to continue their education through the through gardening.

Plants, seeds and propagation will be the focus of camp throughout the week, along with environmental influence and wildlife factors. Homemade biodegradable boxes will be used to plant seeds each day, and students will take them home and watch the plants grow to maturity.

Garden related activities

The planned activities are derived from the Texas A&M University Children’s Curriculum. The Junior Master Gardener program, the Wildlife Junior Gardener program and the Health and Nutrition from the Garden program are ideal for children. The Growing Healthy Kids camp will be led by experienced master gardeners, Victoria County 4-H members and the Victoria County Agriculture Extension Officer.

Using all five senses with an emphasis on taste, learning about fruits and vegetables provides a real-world experience that campers will enjoy as they encounter different foods. We’ll use pizza to learn about the vegetables and herbs that make pizza so delicious.

An apple election will be held with Delicious, Gala and other candidates. Carrots, cucumbers, corn and celery can be selected as the favorite candidate for the vegetable election. How far can a camper spit out a watermelon seed and include a little math measurement?

Insects, birds, animals of the plant world

Insects, birds and animals also live in our plant world. As campers learn to identify insects, butterflies and birds in VEG, they will learn about beneficial and harmful species. How do we prevent insects from eating our vegetables and flowers? Matt Bochat, Victoria County Extension Officer, will present “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly World of Insects”, a program to inspire campers to look at insects with new insight.

Birds and bees are essential to the plant world. The bee population is needed to pollinate plants. How do bird beaks identify the types of food birds need to survive? What birds live in our area? Campers will also build bird feeders.

What other animals live in our yards and gardens? Using animal track patterns, campers will identify uninvited visitors to the garden. What is the difference between a toad and a frog? Gardeners often encounter lizards and anoles in our garden space, so these garden intruders will be investigated.

The art of the natural garden

Creating garden art using natural garden products such as seeds, rocks and grasses to make mosaic signs, stepping stones and plant markers is a creative way to bring out the creative side of children . Garden books are a great way to introduce children to the outdoor gardening experience and will be used to show campers how to include books in their gardening interests.

Practical learning

The Victoria County Master Gardener Association offers children (and adults) the opportunity to learn about gardening through hands-on experiences like interacting with fluttering butterflies in VEG’s Butterfly Paradise.

Plants for Texas, plants from other countries, koi ponds, patriotic plants, the secret garden and “mini gardens” of ancient plants as well as the greenhouse will be part of the tours through VEG. Plants specific to Texas will be studied, including wildflower varieties.

Register before June 6

Sign up for the Growing Healthy Kids camp and have fun learning how to learn about gardening, the impact insects have on our lives, and the importance of healthy food choices. Grab your sunglasses and hats and join us for a memorable summer gardening experience.

The deadline for registration is June 6. Enrollment applications can be obtained at the Victoria County Extension Office at 528 Waco Circle at Victoria Regional Airport or online at vcmga.org.

The Gardeners’ Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational initiative of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension – Victoria County. Send your questions to the care of the attorney, PO Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or [email protected], or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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