The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Danville News

July 11, 2014

Adventure campers learn about geology, wildlife

— DANVILLE — Local kids have been getting a hands-on experience with nature all this week courtesy of a new “adventure camp” run by local naturalist and entertainer Van Wagner.

The lessons, which take place at the Danville Area Community Center, started Monday this week and continue through today. They include topics such as geology, wildlife and watersheds. Wednesday’s lesson revolved around forestry, with Wagner bringing in pieces of a dead tree’s stump to share with the class. He taught the youngsters, about 10 in all, how to measure the age of a tree by counting its rings and how trees use sunlight, soil and water to nourish themselves. The children used markers to label one half of their stump with the different parts of the tree, such as the pith, sap wood and heart wood.

Wagner also took the children outside to try out an “increment borer,” a tool used to judge the age of a living tree without causing it harm.

The kids also collected leaves from different trees to help create a tree identification book they could use on their own.

“They just love being outside and learning about nature hands-on,” Wagner said.

Wagner and his students also set up a small camera on the grounds surrounding the community center to record the habits of wild animals in the area.

A lesson earlier in the week had the group examining the Sechler Run Creek, which flows near the community center. The student learned that the creek was too warm for some creatures such as fish to live in due to the lack of shade around it.

Wagner wanted to make it clear to the kids that trees are very important, but it is also okay to harvest them as they are a resource that can be regrown with proper care and management.

The creation of the adventure camp was a “mutual idea” between Wagner and community center director Jean Knouse. The two wanted a program that mixed science, history “and a lot of fun,” Wagner said.

He hopes to continue the camp again next year.

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