Following the cancellation of all youth camp programming in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Recreational Services is pleased to again be hosting Wildlife Camps this coming summer. The original Wildlife Camp program, hosted at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area, will be celebrating its 30th year in the wild, carrying on a long legacy of hands-on experiences that awaken awareness, nurture appreciation, and inspire action for all things wild.
In 2017, the day camp program was expanded throughout the state of Iowa through a partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks. The Wildlife Camps at State Parks program has expanded each year since its inception, allowing for camps to be hosted in 21 different state parks in summer 2021.
Health and Safety Measures
The Outdoor Recreation and Education team at Recreational Services is feeling grateful to again be serving Iowans with a meaningful environmental education experience. The importance of providing a safe place for outdoor discovery and human interaction for the physical, social, and emotional health of youth cannot be overstated.
Wildlife Camps director, Meredith Caskey, has the safety of campers and staff top of mind for this summer, stating, “We will have additional safety precautions in place this summer with a focus on being responsibly healthy. Currently, we are including guidelines for face masks, social distancing, hand hygiene, ventilation, and sanitation as a part of our new policies.”
Health and safety measures are subject to change based on guidance from the University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Wildlife Camps program has outlined the policies and procedures they will have in place this summer based on current guidance on their website, including:
- Daily assessments of campers’ health.
- Reducing camp capacities to allow for more social distancing.
- Encouraging campers to be dropped off and picked up directly at/from MNRA*.
- Face masks must be worn at all times, apart from scheduled mask breaks where greater than six feet of distancing is able to be maintained and/or when eating and drinking.
- Daily cleaning of equipment used during activities, and between individual uses.
*Buses will be available for transportation for the Wildlife Camps at MNRA with additional safety measures in place. As in previous years, transportation will not be provided for the Wildlife Camps at State Parks.
Policies and procedures for Wildlife Camps were adapted from the Iowa City Community School District’s “Return to Learn” Plan and the CDC’s Suggestions for Youth and Summer Camps guide.
An Accessible Outdoor Experience
Through a variety of partnerships, Wildlife Camps are designed to be an affordable and accessible educational experience. Some of the organizations that have helped to reduce registration costs through sponsorships and grants, or by providing scholarship opportunities, are:
- United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties
- Iowa DNR Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP)
- Friends of Mines of Spain
- Friends of Maquoketa Caves
- Neighborhood NESTS (Nurturing Every Student Together Safely)