Heritage Creek Farm Camp
Parents, are you looking for a place to send your children where they can do fun activities AND learn more about the environment? Teachers, are you looking to get out of the classroom and get your students involved in some hands-on learning? If so, look no further than Heritage Creek Farm Camp! Located in beautiful Mounty Joy, Pennsylvania, Heritage Creek Farm Camp offers a variety of activities that will get your child or student involved in learning about nature. You’ll be thankful you sent them and they’ll want to go back week after week!
The main topics discussed on this webpage will include:
About Heritage Creek Farm Camp
Heritage Creek Farm Camp Motto
What is an outdoor classroom?
Why are outdoor classrooms so important?
A Typical Day at Heritage Creek Farm Camp
Getting the Children Involved
Ways HCFC Goes Green
Animals as Workers
Other Outdoor Programs
About Heritage Creek Farm Camp
Beginning just about 2 years ago on November 8, 2011, Heritage Creek Farm Camp has proven that it will be successful in the years to come. Heritage Creek Farm Camp was started by Cindi Hughes and Rochelle Hildreth when they realized they wanted to share their passion of sustainability, preserving natural habitats, and “going green” to children. Heritage Creek Farm Camp holds weeklong sessions of day camp during the summer and offer various other days throughout the year dedicated to educating children ages 3-12 years old on a variety of educational topics. However, teenagers 13 years and over are encouraged to volunteer as camp counselors! Activities are hands-on and are designed to educate the children through environmentally friendly lessons and teach social responsibility. Heritage Creek Farm is also open to schools that wish to take a field trip there and are available for birthday parties. Their mission is to “encourage yearning for learning while working hand in hand” and that is exactly what they do!
The Heritage Creek Farm Camp Motto
“Dirty hands and knees, meadow, woods and stream. Earth, water, air, and sun, food and friendship, outdoor fun. Games, nature, music, art, work and play, hands and heart. Plant, harvest, cook and bake, meals and friendship we do make. Steward of water, creatures and land, crafting, building, hand-in-hand. Wonder, reverence and respect, all the virtues we expect. Value, love and encourage other, we are one, sisters and brothers. Harmony, peace, joy and unity weave the tapestry of community.”
What is an outdoor classroom?
An outdoor classroom is an area outside the classroom where students learn through hands-on experience about topics like nature and the environment. Rather than just teaching children about different plants, insects, animals, etc. the outdoor classroom experience can include things such as biology fieldtrips, going outside and searching for a variety of insects, starting and maintaining a garden, and so much more!
Why are outdoor classrooms so important?
Not only are outdoor classroom experiences extremely fun to children, but they also provide benefits for both the children and the teacher. It can be difficult for children to pay attention in class when learning about trees for an hour, but take them outside and get them involved in labeling different trees and the children will have no problem paying attention. The hands-on experience the children get through outdoor classrooms will benefit them for years to come. They will retain and comprehend the information better because they are experiencing it first hand and will be more involved in learning because it is hands-on.
Take, for example, a class of children who starts their own garden at school. These children are not only learning about responsibility by taking care of the garden, but they are also learning things like awareness of where certain foods come from, the nutritional value of these foods, and a sense of being needed. Outdoor classrooms not only get the children involved, but they also incorporate a variety of other subjects learned in school as well, such as: math, language arts, science, health, and history. Consider the added benefits such as the physical activity the children get from being involved in outdoor classrooms, the fact that all of the children’s senses of being involved, and environmental awareness; it’s no wonder so many children enjoy these outdoor activities so much!
A Typical Day at Heritage Creek Farm Camp
Throughout the day, children attending a week at the Heritage Creek Farm Camp are kept busy through a variety of different activities. Here is what a typical day is like:
8 a.m.- Children arrive at camp
8:30-9 a.m. - Children have free play time to get them excited for the day!
9-9:30 a.m.- Morning meeting where counselors go over with the children what they will do that day. Also, “wakeup songs” are sung and they establish their “word of the day”
9:30-10:30 a.m.- Children break out into their groups and rotate through stations, doing different activities at each; depending on how many children that day, group numbers can range from 2 to 4
10:30-11:30 a.m.- Children eat their lunch box snack and have play time
11:30-12:30 p.m.- Children go back to their group rotations and finish activities
12:30-1 p.m.- Children eat their “snunch” (their clever way of saying lunch!)
1-2:30 p.m.- Children once again have free playtime or do structured play activities
2:30-3 p.m.- Children sit for story time or quiet time
3-3:30 p.m.- Children receive another snack
3:30-4 p.m.- This is known as “golden memories and goodbyes” time where children get to share their favorite part of the day and say goodbye to their camp friends and the counselors!
Getting the Children Involved
Educating Through a Variety of Activities
Whether it’s getting their hands dirty helping to plant vegetables or making their own lunch, the children attending Heritage Creek Farm Camp never have a dull moment! They get to spend the whole day making new friends, learning responsibility, and most of all, learning about the environment. During the morning meeting period the children learn the “word of the day”. This word of the day guides the children and helps them understand what they will be learning about that day. For example, one of the words of the day used previously was “discover”. With discover being the word of the day, activities were aimed towards getting the children to “discover” new things such as new insects, plants, or new friends. Hands-on learning at Heritage Creek Farm Camp focuses on the following areas of: sustainable agriculture practices, environment, companion animal care taking, integrating the arts, and collaboration. Activities are switched up every week, so if a camper decides to come for the next week of camp they will have a completely new set of activities to do and new information to learn.
One of the main things Heritage Creek Farm Camp focuses on is getting children involved in learning. Throughout the day, children attending the camp are given a variety of tasks to complete, but don’t worry, these tasks are all fun and the children are learning at the same time! One project completed by children was a special garden that is designed to have those plants at the top that need more water and those at the bottom that require less water. This particular project taught students about planting and also about conserving water; the water trickles down to the lower plants so no extra water is needed to water them; this is known as a gravity fed irrigation system. Children attending the camp also help in maintaining the gardens they put together to help teach them that they also need to take care of things.
Lunch and Snacks
When the children sit down to eat their all-natural snack, they can do so with a huge smile on their face and a sense of accomplishment. This is because they helped make their all natural snack with their own hands! Not only do the children help maintain the harvest, but they also use the crops they planted for making snacks. One of the activities the children do is preparing their snack in the kitchen. They are involved in all aspects of preparing the snack, from picking crops from the garden, to mixing the different ingredients, to cleaning the dishes that they used. From the first step to the last step the children actually get to make and enjoy their own snack that they helped create. This provides them with an amazing sense of accomplishment and also encourages learning. Having the children help prepare their own snack is also an amazing way of getting them to be more helpful at home and aware of what they are putting in their bodies. Now that they learned a few things about cooking, they can go home and share this knowledge with their family and even help prepare dinner at home too!
Ways HCFC Goes Green
Through their various activities and hands-on learning, Heritage Creek Farm Camp provides a tremendous amount of experience for the children that visit and they manage to do all of this by GOING GREEN. There are a variety of ways Heritage Creek Farm Camp goes and remains green.
The outdoor oven HCFC has allows them cook a variety of items without using electricity.
Throughout the farm, there are numerous amounts of rain barrels that can be seen. While they may just look like plain barrels from the outside, they provide amazing benefits for the farm. These rain barrels have a simple job—collect and store rain water! The farm uses the water harvested from the rain barrels and uses it for a variety of purposes such as watering the plants/crops and providing drinking water for the animals. By using rain barrels, HCFC is using safer water than well water and is conserving water that may otherwise become polluted.
Located near the children’s garden, Heritage Creek Farm Camp uses a greenhouse in the summer to help in cultivating plants. Greenhouses are sometimes easier to maintain because the person taking care of the plants doesn’t have to worry about the outside elements such as too much rain, not enough sun, and those pesky pests that can harm the plants. These greenhouses create a safe, sheltered environment for plants by using solar radiation from the outside to trap heat. The heat trapped in the greenhouse helps to heat the soil, thus allowing the plants to grow quicker and more efficiently.
Solar Electric Fence
All of the electric fences at Heritage Creek Farm are powered using solar energy. Electric fences are important when it comes to protecting the animals so that predators do not enter their area and preventing the animals from escaping into dangerous situations. A solar electric fence charger use a small solar panel to collect and convert sunlight into energy, which is then stored in the battery so that it can charge the fence. Sounds like a pretty great way to conserve energy!
While not yet put together, a pollinator garden is in the works at Heritage Creek Farm. A pollinator garden is great for a variety of reasons. They not only help certain insects such as bees, beetles, and butterflies, but they also help keep plants pollinated. These pollinator gardens are designed to attract the insects that most often need nectar and in return the plants are getting pollinated, allowing them to grow faster.
On top of all of the other ways Heritage Creek Farm “goes green”, they also practice composting. When the children are helping in the kitchen or are given snacks, there is absolutely NO paper of plastic used. Heritage Creek Farm believes that using paper and plastic can be wasteful and instead stick to using items that can be easily washed and not just thrown away. They provide 4 steps to the children when eating food:
The employees at Heritage Creek Farm Camp care about the environment, especially the environment they provide for the children which is why they have adopted so many “green” items and ways of living to their farm.
- Feast—enjoy your meal!
- Compost—can what you’re eating be beneficial to other areas on the farm? Many times if the child does not finish his or her food the leftovers are used to feed the animals. Don’t worry, this isn’t harmful to any of the animals, they eat all natural snacks, remember?
- Recycle—if what the children are eating cannot be used for compositing, can it be reused? This is one of the main reasons HCFC does not provide plastic or paper; it can’t reused!
- Trash—if the items or materials being used can’t be composited or recycled, it is considered trash and should be disposed of in the appropriate manner.
Animals as Workers
Heritage Creek Farm Camp believes that nothing should go wasted, not even the animals. The animals at Heritage Creek Farm are NOT raised and used for purposes of factory farming. All of the animals are treated well and receive the best care from the employees. Not only do the animals provide learning experiences for the children, but they also can be extremely beneficial when it comes to maintaining the farm. Heritage Creek Farm practices permaculture, this simply means that the animals use their own natural habits, such as their feeding habits, to help keep the farm working in the correct manner. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on machinery, the animals are utilized as workers just like the employees and children work on the farm.
Cloud and Patches are the two pigs currently living on Heritage Creek Farm. If it’s one thing you should know about pigs it’s that they LOVE to eat and dig. Just by looking at their muddy, wet snouts anyone could tell that they enjoy digging through dirt! Not only do the pigs eat the leftover snacks from the children, but they also help fertilize the soil. By rooting around in the soil and fertilizing the soil, Cloud and Patches helped make flower beds in the children’s garden at Heritage Creek Farm.
Heritage Creek Farm takes care of two donkeys; Sylvester and Ocean. Donkeys love to graze on grass and Sylvester and Ocean are no exception! They are also fed hay, but during their free time, grazing on grass is one of the things they like to do. Sylvester and Ocean help to keep the grass short around Heritage Creek Farm and also help to get rid of grass where it is not needed.
Take a few steps onto Heritage Creek Farm and you’ll see chickens in all shapes, sizes, and colors making their way around the farm. While the chickens are not used for meat, their eggs are used for food; their eggs provide a natural meal and ingredients for both the employees and the children. Not only do the chickens provide eggs, but they also help through the use of chicken tractors. Chicken tractors are not harmful to the chickens; they are simply a bottomless cage that chickens are placed in that moves to different areas on the farm. While in the cage, the chickens eat grass, weeds, and bugs off the ground; they also defecate. The chickens are not only helping to fertilize the ground, but they are also helping to keep insects away that may harm the crops and feeding themselves at the same time.
The animals often moved to different areas of the farm to keep the farm looking nice and things running smoothly. For example, the donkeys, pigs, and goats all rotated to help keep the grass short and fertilized so that it can maintain plant life. All of the animals are big helpers to the farm and the staff is very thankful for that!
Other Outdoor Programs
Heritage Creek Farm Camp isn’t the only place that features an outdoor education program. All throughout Lancaster more is being done to increase the amount of outdoor education for children. Whether it’s through schools or other places, Lancaster County seems to be becoming more and more environmentally friendly every day. By starting with educating children about the environment and things they can do to help take of it, we are raising more environmentally-friendly children who will hopefully pass their knowledge on to their children and make the environment a better place for everyone.
Lancaster County Conservancy
Lancaster County Conservancy has a goal and that is to save and take better care of the ecosystems and landscapes that we live with today. They understand how important ecosystems and landscapes are because we depend on them for things such as food, clean water and air, and our economic and public health. The Lancaster County Conservancy values our youth and knows that getting them educated about the environment is extremely important; this is why they offer 25 open preserves available to parents and children who want to learn more about nature! These preserves are located all over Lancaster County: Bellaire Woods, Shiprock Woods, Trout Run, Camp Snyder and Windolph Landing are just a few examples. Lancaster County Conservancy not only provides 25 preserves, but also gives a variety of ideas for an outdoor classroom that takes place in your own backyard and even offer teacher training so teachers can make learning about the environment fun and easy for their students!
For more information about the Lancaster County Conservancy, please visit www.lancasterconservancy.org
Arbor Day is a nonprofit conservation and education organization. National Arbor Day takes place on April 26, 2014, or the last Friday of April. The goal of the Arbor Day organization is to educate the public about trees; these include things such as the types of trees, planting trees, where they’re needed most, and how to take care of the quickly diminishing supply of trees in the United Sates. Arbor Day has cities all throughout the country that they call “Tree City USA”. Tree City USA is a program that provides the framework for managing community forests in towns and city across America. In order for a town or city to become a Tree City, there are 4 standards that they must follow: 1. A tree board of department, 2. A tree care ordinance, 3. A Community Forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita, and 4. An Arbor Day observance and proclamation.
Nature Explore is a collaborative program of the Arbor Day foundation that is aimed at connecting children with nature. They offer outdoor classroom design services that help to create nurturing, nature-based outdoor spaces, workshops and conferences to share ideas about teaching children about nature, natural outdoor classroom products, and family resources to help inspire parents to get involved in teaching their children about the environment. Nature Explore is an extremely helpful program that makes it easy for both schools and parents to educate children about the environment. They offer a variety of step-by-step programs and provide many resources for teachers and parents that are interested in developing outdoor programs.
For more information about Arbor Day or Nature explore please visit: www.arborday.org or natureexplore.org
Lancaster County Conservation District
The Lancaster County Conservation District is a program designed to make citizens aware of the interrelationships between human activities and the natural environment. They also provide assistance for current programs and develop and implement programs that promote care of natural resources. The Lancaster County Conservation has done a variety of projects that will benefit us and the environment for years to come! From rebuilding watersheds to selling and planting trees, all of their actions prove how much they care about the environment.
Part of the Lancaster County Conservation District is the Conservation Education Program. This program gets students and teachers out of the classroom and into the natural environment. Learning takes place in a variety of areas such as fields, wetlands, and streams. The Youth Conservation School is a 7 day, 6 night learning program designed for students ages14-16 that takes place in a camp-like setting. It all takes place in the great outdoors and activities that take place each day are aimed towards educating students who are truly interested in learning about the environment. All activities are taught by experienced instructors and also show campers the various careers they can have that involve nature.
For more information about the Lancaster County Conservation District please visit www.lancasterconservation.org
The Lancaster Watershed program is run by the Lancaster Conservation District. Lancaster Watershed does various projects that restore watersheds so that they can help benefit the environment and people. You might be asking yourself, “What is a watershed?” Well, a watershed is an area of land that drains to a specific, larger body of water such as an ocean, river, or lake. What one county of city does to a stream or river will affect the body of water that stream or river connects to. Lancaster Watershed ensures that all streams are running smoothly and repair areas that are in need so that they don’t flood. It is important to take care of watersheds because they sustain life, supply drinking water, provide water for plants, and help home plenty of animals. If a watershed is not clean or is flooding it can be harmful to the public.
Lancaster Watershed also does its part to help educate the public by offering volunteer opportunities where everyday citizens can become educated about watersheds and learn about chemical testing to make sure the water is safe. Programs are also available for children and adults who wish to learn more about various environmental topics.
For more information about Lancaster Watershed please visit www.lancasterwatersheds.org
Keep Lancaster County Beautiful
Keep Lancaster County Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. Their mission is to empower the citizens of Lancaster County to make our communities clean and beautiful! Keep Lancaster County Beautiful focuses on 3 main areas, litter and illegal dumping, cleanup and community waste, and proper waste handling and sustainable practices. They also have a variety of programs such as: Liter Free School Zone Program, Adopt-a-Highway Program, Great American Cleanup of Lancaster County, America Recycles Day, and a variety of other programs that help keep Lancaster County beautiful!
With this program, it’s easy to get involved! Helping the environment starts with little steps; steps that everyone can take. To help keep Lancaster County beautiful, you can start simply by recycling the right way, saving electricity by turning to renewable resources, or helping to pick up trash. No programs are necessary for Keep Lancaster County Beautiful because everything can be done by YOU! You can act as your child’s teacher and educate them about why it is important to keep the environment clean and healthy.
For more information about Keep Lancaster County Beautiful please visit www.lcswma.org
The Schaeffer Pond
The Manheim Township Education Foundation along with a grant funded through High Industries has created an eco-pond and eco-garden. This eco-pond is designed to provide an outdoor, hands-on experience to both students and parents. It also encourages teachers to bring learning outdoors so that it can be more entertaining for their students. This pond allows small-scale experiments to become large-scale experiments that are more interesting to kids and even adults. This pond is designed to be studied, developed, and enjoyed by Schaeffer students and families. Not only does the Schaeffer pond give children an outdoor classroom experience, but it also provides a relaxing area where they can sit and observe the various creatures that have begun to inhabit the pond, such as ducks, dragonflies, and fish!
- 4,438 square feet
- 8,000 gallon pond
- Eco-garden will host a variety of plants to attract birds and butterflies
- Industrial strength pond liner and bacteria filtration system
- Walkway around pond with native Pennsylvania animal tracts stamped into the concrete
- Waterfall with bridge (bridge designed by High Steel)
For more information about the Schaeffer Pond please visit www.mtwp.net
Homefields and Millersville University
Children aren’t the only ones who can experience the fun of learning about the environment; college students at Millersville University are also learning about ways they can help the environment.
Homefields is a non-profit volunteer organization that houses people with special needs and also offers a variety of farm events such as “talks on the field” and “dining in the fields”. Students and staff at Millersville University wanted to find a way to get students involved in off-campus volunteer opportunities and help the environment at the same time. For this reason, they decided to build and place insect hotels at the farm at Homefields. Biology professor Dr. John Wallace and two of his students have been the ones in charge of this effort and they plan to have everything together within the next couple of months; Millersville University is allowing the students and professors in charge of this venture to use recycled materials from the school. They also hope to be able to get the special education students involved in this activity since Homefields does so much for those with mental disabilities.
What is an Insect Hotel?
Insect hotels are a manmade structures made from natural materials and are used to house insects that are helpful to crops. Insect hotels act as “ecological economies” in that they help farms because it is expensive to bring outside pollinating bees and keep them there because of disease and the weather. By keeping insect hotels around a farm or field, it can help improve the harvest, thus lowering the cost for both the consumers and those that operate the farm. Additionally, by providing insect hotels the population of good insects will increase and the population of harmful insects will decrease. By improving the harvest, it means more of a profit for Homefields and less maintenance for those who need to maintain the farm because they don’t have to worry about certain insects eating their harvest.
The certain types of insects that are placed into these insect hotels include both pollinators and predators. The role of these insects is to either help pollinate the plants, or help to kill off those insects that are harmful to the crops. Examples of insects that help in pollinating and keeping away harmful insects include: beetles, parasitoid wasps, solitary bees, and flies.
About the Insects Used
- Beetles play an important role when it comes to maintaining a harvest.
- They fly back and forth all day helping to pollinate flowers, thus allowing the plants to reach their full potential.
- Parasitoid wasps help to kill parasites that can be hazardous to the development and growth of crops.
- No parasites=healthy crops!
- They also collect harmful insects and feed them to their young which helps increase the wasp population.
- The most important role solitary bees play is in pollination.
- Examples of solitary bees include: mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, sweat bees, and carpenter bees.
- Similar to beetles, these solitary bees spend their days flying from flower to flower, helping to pollinate them. Pollination is extremely important when it comes to how well the crops grow.
- Although some may think of flies as those pesky, annoying insects that buzz around your head, they actually play a role in key role helping crops!
- Flies, along with many other insects, also help in pollination process the same way beetles and wasps do.
- While we may think that having so many flies around is annoying, it is actually benefiting those who grow crops.
The Benefits of Insect Hotels
Insect hotels help to decrease cost benefits during a harvest because they stay up year round. The insects that benefit the crops are increased and the insects that harm the crops are decreased, so the crops have a greater chance of surviving; this means a better yield of crops for the farm.
Not only do insect hotels benefit the farm, but they also benefit the insects themselves. Instead of the insects dying off in the winter they get a warm, comfortable environment to live in where they can easy survive and reproduce. The insects also get protection from other animals that would otherwise kill them.
How are Insect Hotels Built?
Insect hotels are built using an array of recyclable materials such as wood, old brick, and straw; even items that people throw out are incorporated. Holes are drilled in the wood for those insects that enjoy living in small spaces, such as the solitary bee. Other areas are placed in the insect hotels for insects that prefer a different living space. A strong base is provided so that they can last and benefit the farm for years to come.
For more information about Homefields, please visit www.homefields.org
This webpage was created by Kailynn Ott