Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nature journaling day camp for tweens

By Jan Little
Photo by Lauren Sims

Artists, gardeners, writers, scientists and others have kept journals in which they can jot notes, observations, ideas they want to explore and details to be drawn. Leonardo da Vinci’s journals are maintained in a number of museums around the world. In his journals he kept everything from grocery lists to sketches of helicopters!

Journaling is a way to focus your thoughts and explore a concept without losing track of ideas. For an artist, a journal provides a quick way to record a view or a detail for later use. Some artists work on small versions of a larger project in their journals first, searching for just the right composition to help them move forward on the full-size version.

Children ages 11 to 13 will have the opportunity to try out nature journaling in “Drawing on Nature,” two one-week Nature Adventures Camp programs in August. As a group, they will explore nature in the Gardens. Individually, they can record notes, sketches, ideas, poems and observations. The journal requires careful observation and helps develop a vivid understanding of nature, perhaps even a delight in your findings.

The children will be following a popular tradition. Thomas Jefferson maintained decades of garden journals in which he recorded a calendar of when seeds were sown and seedlings planted, the timing and amount of harvest, and plant evaluation. Those journals are still being studied and used by gardeners and researchers to understand gardening and landscaping in Jefferson’s time.

Chuck Hemric, Duke Gardens’ volunteer director and an avid gardener, maintains a garden journal that began when he moved to his home and garden eight years ago.  It helps him track types of plants, planting locations, the plant source, weather trends, and seasonal notes such as first bloom or first fruit.
“It helps me learn and remember what conditions work for a plant and determine just what is meant by part shade, full shade, so I can learn the conditions unique to my garden in which a plant will thrive,” he says.

Self-discovery is inevitable as you maintain a journal, and it will be fun to see what the youngsters who participate in “Drawing on Nature” will learn about themselves. The program will be guided by local artists and experienced journal-keepers, who will help the children pursue their own interests and hone their skills. The children need not have exceptional artistic or writing abilities to participate.

Camp dates & information: Drawing on Nature camp runs from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 6-10 or Aug. 13-17 (children may attend both). Extended care is available from 1-4 p.m. The cost is $150 per child per week; $75 more per week for extended care. For complete information, please visit gardens.duke.edu or call 919-668-1707.

UPDATE: We regret to announce that we are canceling the journaling camp due to low enrollment. We thank the many families who filled our other summer camps to capacity, and we look forward to shaping another exciting camp season next summer. If there's a themed camp you would love to see offered, please feel free to suggest it to education coordinator Kavanah Anderson.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens creates and nurtures an environment in the heart of Duke University for learning, inspiration and enjoyment through excellence in horticulture. The Gardens is at 420 Anderson St.

Columnist Jan Little is director of education and public programs at Duke Gardens. This column first appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun

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