Yes to learning about nature. Yes to having fun.
Those were the themes of Youth Empowerment Summer Camp Open House Sunday at Creque Dam Farm, nestled in St. Croix’s Rain Forest. Camp tours, activity demonstrations and complimentary organic fruit snacks and refreshments were offered to visitors interested in learning more about Youth Empowerment Summer Camp.
The tours lasted around an hour, traveling through the gardens, the bohio, potting shed, the dehydrator, displays of fibers, dies, tools, and more.
The pathways on the tour were particularly pretty, lined with tiny wild sunflowers, orange cosmos, and fragrant herbs. The bohio – a circular open air shelter – was a cool spot surrounded by lush bamboo. The handmade wood dehydrator heated by a solar panel held trays of local leaves and flowers for bush tea.
“This shows biodiversity from a farmers perspective,” said Nate Olive, program director. “Everything is combined and connected living in nature.”
He said the campers will learn about composting and naturalists skills such as fire starting and identifying plants used as natural remedies.
The camp, for students age 12 to 16, will be held June 28 through July 30 at V.I. Sustainable Farm Institute. There will be scholarships and shuttles available.
This is the first time this type of camp has been offered. Oliver expressed appreciation to Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT) for making it possible.
The program is designed to engage campers with organic farming, nature connecting, cultural mentoring, and creative-skills building. Instructors who live on the islands were on hand to answer questions, but other instructors will be arriving from off island to offer camp instruction.
This year the Creque Dam Natural Mentors youth programs was honored by the National Geographic Society as one of the top 10 innovative programs in the world.
The farm is making a call for afternoon volunteer youth empowerment workshop leaders. Anyone who has a "how-to" session they would like to share in a two-hour workshop with the campers should call Oliver. Examples could be how-to: play/make a musical instrument, express oneself through acting or art, organize a high school activist group, tell a great story, re-use things that normally go in the landfill, or cultivate a creative state of mind.
More information about YEScamp can be obtained by calling 719-5455.
The farm promotes sustainability through growing food locally and organically, recycling and alternative energy.