Across the United States, students in grades 6-12 participate in an environmental education program known as Envirothon. This program was designed for students who have a deep interest in the environment. While in the program, student teams have the chance to participate in state competitions that are designed to showcase their knowledge of topics like natural resource management, forestry, soil and land use, aquatic ecology, wildlife, environmental issues, and environmental sciences. If a team of students excel in their state’s competitions, they have the opportunity to compete at the national level.
In Western North Carolina, students who are members of their school’s Envirothon team have the unique opportunity to attend summer camp. Haywood County Schools’ Envirothon students are invited every summer to participate in what is know as YES (Youth Environmental Stewardship) Camp, hosted by Haywood County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Buncombe County SWCD saw how beneficial having a summer camp for these students could be and decided to start Camp Wild in 2016. Buncombe County SWCD receive funding through the Pigeon River Fund. These funds are administered by Southwestern NC RC&D Council. “We are so thankful for these funds,” said Taira Lance, Buncombe County SWCD Environmental Educator/Soil Conservationist. “We were able to put on such a great camp this year that our students loved!”
Camp Wild is not only a fun summer camp, but it is also a way to keep students’ minds sharp. “One of the main reasons for having this camp is to act as an educational booster for our students,” said Lance. “Once students are dismissed for summer break, they tend to forget a lot of what they learned the previous year.” In 2017, the camp hosted two different sessions, one for middle school students and one for high school students. Middle school week took place on June 19-23 and high school week took place on August 7-11. Both groups were able to learn about topics like soil science, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, and water at locations like Biltmore Estate and Pisgah National Forest, and went camping at Carolina Hemlock Campground. “About 30-40 students came out to Camp Wild this year,” said Lance. “We look forward to seeing what 2018 has to offer Camp Wild!”
To attend Camp Wild, you must be an Envirothon student. Students that are not enrolled in the Envirothon program are also eligible to attend only by application. To learn more about Camp Wild, please contact Taira Lance at (828) 250-4787.