Pre-Season Nature Instruction Clinic

2015 Clinic Dates: Sunday June 14 – Friday, June 19

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The Nature Instruction Clinic is a unique, national training program that puts Camp Pemigewassett at the forefront of the camping world’s commitment to environmental education. This pre-season, 5½-day-long “Nature Instruction Clinic” is for staff members from Pemi, staff from other camps, and for select students from the University of New Haven (for which they receive academic credit).

History of The Nature Clinic

In 1992, former Director Rob Grabill, former Associate Nature Head, Russ Brummer, and Larry Davis, longtime and current Head of the Nature Program, attended the International Camping Congress in Toronto in order to present a workshop entitled, Building a Camp Nature Program: 12 Keys to Success. Prepared for an audience of 30 or 35, they were surprised when over 100 showed up. People were sitting in the aisles and standing against the walls. The questions following the presentation clearly indicated that they had struck a chord. One that was frequently repeated was, “You’ve said that there must be ‘a well-trained and enthusiastic staff.’ Where can we find these people?” This got them thinking and they looked to see what was “out there.” The answer was “not much.”

So, we decided that we needed to do it ourselves – and the “Camp Pemigewassett Nature Instruction Clinic” was born.

The first clinic was in 1993, with eleven participants. The current clinic is capped at 16 participants.

Base Objectives

  • Help participants become familiar with the flora and fauna of northern New England.
  • Show them how to plan and execute lessons for teaching about nature and natural history, in the outdoors.
  • Familiarize them with available teaching resources including books, state and federal agencies (such as the U.S. Geological Survey or NASA), non-profits (Audubon Societies), and museums or science centers.

Outline of the Clinic

First half

  • focus on natural history
  • mostly in the field
  • modeling teaching techniques
  • introducing participants to the resources used to create lesson plans

Second half

  • focus on teaching
  • participants create and teach an actual lesson with the rest being “campers.”
  • create and build a display as an example of how you can teach without actually being there

Learn to Teach Activities

  • Birding
  • Insect Ecology, Collection, and Preparation
  • Natural Dyes
  • Field Walk and Cooking Lesson (Wild Foods)
  • Rocks and More (workshop on rock and mineral activities)
  • Weird Science
  • Stargazing
  • Nature Drawing and Journals
  • In the Dark (the wonders of nature at night)
  • All Together in the Field
  • Putting it Together; Getting Ready; Trying it Out
  • Teaching When You’re Not There, and HELP!

Benefits

  • Pemi campers benefit because we use it to train our own nature staff.
  • Pemi campers benefit as we are forced to constantly think about how we run our own program, and constantly read about new approaches and new techniques. It keeps us on our toes and prevents things from becoming stale.
  • Campers at other camps and in other settings benefit in the same way from the training that their instructors have received.
  • The clinic itself may serve as a model for similar clinics that could be developed elsewhere. This could truly spread the benefits to a much, much wider audience.

Further Reading

See the full-color 2015 Nature Instruction Clinic Brochure >>  or   Print a simplified version >>