Programs

Summer Family Adventures

Explore, discover, build, learn, and play outdoors as a family this summer!

REGISTER HERE

We are excited to launch a brand new socially distanced family camp program in lieu of traditional in-person camp for summer 2021! Summer Family Adventures embraces the same aspects of our traditional camp program, while adapting to fit the constraints of today’s world. Whether you’re a veteran EcoCamper ready to cover yourself in wetland mud or you’re just getting started and need some help dipping your toes in, EcoCamp Family Adventures is the perfect opportunity for families of all ages. Grow and nurture your connection with nature, and with each other, through weekly self-directed explorations at Pickering Creek. Then, bring the magic home with a related activity or experiment, with fun supplies and equipment that are yours to keep.

**In light of the accelerated vaccine distribution, we are adding in-person programming to the  Summer Family Adventures. Participating families will have the option of signing up for timed slots with a Pickering naturalist each week to guide them through catching critters, exploring the trails, and connecting with nature! Numbers for each slot will be limited based on current CDC and MDH recommendations, and masks and social distancing will be required. 

Summer Family Adventures helps kids become comfortable outdoors, connect with nature on their own terms, learn about local wildlife, and have a blast being a kid! Family Adventures takes this one step further by bringing these experiences and benefits to your whole family. Discovering new habitats, learning new facts about wildlife, and practicing new skills together will strengthen your family’s connection not only with nature, but also with each other!

Don’t feel too confident about exploring the trails on your own with your campers? We’ve got you covered! The directions, questions, and information in your family’s Adventure Journal will keep you from getting stuck in the mud and help you to build the skills you need to keep adventuring together. Is your family used to hitting the trails already? There’s always more to learn!

Summer Family Adventures is not a replacement for camp, but instead is a unique opportunity see familiar habitats in new ways, connect with one another other and build the skills you need to continue adventuring together long after the summer is over. 


Sign up for all six weeks, or join us for whichever weeks work with your schedule that appeal to your campers’ interests so you can keep growing skills and having safe outdoor fun all summer long!


Each week includes:

  • Family Nature Adventure: Explore together, complete challenges, and forge a connection with nature with a different adventure each week at Pickering Creek
  • Bring it Home: Keep the adventure going at home with a different experiment or activity related to that week’s theme!  
  • Adventure Journal: Keep track of your family’s experiences, questions, and knowledge in this interactive journal full of guided activities and information
  • Equipment and Supplies for you to keep, and use at Pickering and at home!
  • Biweekly Zoom Camp Connection: Join Pickering educators at the beginning and end of the week to get useful tips about activities, share what you found, and connect with other camp families!
  • Community Showcase: Invite your friends and family to check out what you’ve done!
  • EcoCamp Bag: Keep all your supplies, journals, and projects together in this cotton drawstring EcoCamp bag!
  • Family Nature Necklace: Make a wood cookie necklace with your family’s nature name during your first week of camp, then add beads for each challenge that you complete together. Try to collect all the beads!

Summer 2021 Schedule:

Wetland Wonderland Humedales Hermosas  (June 28th – July 2nd)
What lives in the wetlands at Pickering Creek? Use your very own net, shovel, and sieve to see what you can catch in the water and dig up in the mud! Learn more about what makes a wetland, why they are so important, and what you can do to help local wetlands. Then, take home some wetland mud to build your own filter!

  • Family Nature Adventure: Search for critters in the wetlands
  • Bring It Home: Bring some wetland soil home to make a wetland filter in a bottle
  • Supplies: Dip net, sieve, small shovel, magnifying lens
  • Community Showcase (July 3rd - 4th): Hang drawings of the amazing things you found along the wetlands trail, then invite friends and family to come and see them!

Outdoor Survival Supervivencia al Aire Libre (July 5th-9th)
Can your family make it on your own outdoors? Learn the skills you’ll need this week! Build a fort together in the woods at Pickering Creek, and test it to see if it stands up to each challenge. At the end of the week, invite your friends and family to visit Pickering to vote for their favorite fort! Then, practice using your new survival gear at home.

  • Family Nature Adventure: Build a fort in the woods and test it
  • Bring It Home: Use your compass and star finder to make a map at home
  • Supplies: Compass, knot tying guide with rope, star finder
  • Community Showcase (July 10th – 11th): Invite friends and family to visit the forts and vote for their favorite!

Marvelous Meadows Prados Preciosos  (July 12th – 16th)
We need your help with our new meadows at Pickering Creek! Throw some wildflower seed balls to help this new habitat bloom with color. Then catch butterflies, beetles, and more to observe in your bug habitat. Work with other camp families to draw pictures for a story trail in the meadow, and build fairy and gnome homes with grasses along the trail. At home, dissect an owl pellet to learn more about meadow habitats!

  • Family Nature Adventure: Plant seed balls, bug hunting with your net, Meadow Story Trail
  • Bring It Home: Owl pellet dissection
  • Supplies: Seed balls, bug net, mesh bug habitat, bug box, owl pellet, forceps
  • Community Showcase (July 17th – 18th): Invite family and friends to walk through our camp’s Meadow Story Trail to see your part of the story!

Woodland Wanders Sondeando en la Selva (July 19th – 23rd)
How do you make a great home for bugs? Choose your own special spot in the woods of Pickering Creek and make your very own bug hotel with natural materials. Learn how to build ‘rooms’ for all different types of bugs. Then, take home a premade bug hotel to decorate and set up at home. Check your hotels throughout the summer to see how many cool bugs check in!

  • Family Nature Adventure: Explore the woods and build a bug hotel
  • Bring It Home: Decorate your premade bug hotel and set it up at home
  • Supplies: Bug hotel, bug box, magnifying lens
  • Community Showcase (July 24th – 25th): Invite family and friends to vote for their favorite hotel, and fill in a “Guest Book” with which bugs they see checked in!

Creek Critters Animales del Arroyo  (July 26th – 30th)
What’s swimming in Pickering Creek? Use our fishing rods to see what you can catch on the dock, marvel at mysteries from beneath the surface in our touch tanks, and learn about brackish water and the Chesapeake Bay. Then, bring supplies home to make your own fish and discover how to stack different colors of water!

  • Family Nature Adventure: Fishing on the dock, touch tanks
  • Bring It Home: Water stacking experiment, make your own fish drawing activity
  • Supplies: Hydrometer, test tubes and rack, pipette, water testing strips
  • Community Showcase (July 31st - August 1st): Display your fishy creations along our trails, then invite family and friends to vote for their favorites!

Habitat Hues Matices del Mundo (August 2nd – 6th)
How does nature inspire you? Learn how to find patterns, colors, and art all around you, and practice using natural objects to complete art challenges along the trails at Pickering Creek. See how many colors you can find with the Color Scavenger Hunt. Then, discover how pigments are used to create dyes, collect some colorful plants at Pickering Creek, and use them to make your own dye to do some natural tie-dyeing at home!

  • Family Nature Adventure: Nature Art Challenge Trail
  • Bring It Home: Make your own plant dye and tie dye bandanas at home
  • Supplies: Cotton bandanas, tie dying supplies (squeeze bottles, slotted spoon, rubber bands, alum, stainless steel pot), colored pencils
  • Community Showcase (August 7th – 8th): Invite family and friends to view your nature art, and add their own along the trail!

Registration Fees

  • $45 per week
    • Includes one set of supplies, Adventure Journal, and admittance to all in-person and virtual activities for everyone in your household
  • $15 for extra sets of supplies
  • $250 for all six weeks

Registration for each week will end during the previous week, and the 6-week special will close before the first week begins!

FAQ

Will there be regular EcoCamp this summer?
No, we are offering EcoCamp Family Adventures as a safer, non-traditional alternative to in-person EcoCamp for summer 2021.

Will there be EcoCamp in 2022?
We hope so! Traditional EcoCamp will resume our usual toad catching, fort building, and outdoor fun in 2022, as long as it is safe for members of our community and our staff to gather together in groups at that time.

Why should I sign up for all six weeks?
There will be a discount for families signing up for entire program! The activities for each week build on those from previous weeks to help you and your family develop the skills you need to explore outdoors together! You’ll get more out of the program by exercising and coming back to those skills each week with a new fun outdoor adventure and theme.

Can I sign up later in the summer?
Sure thing! Signing up for all six week will get you a discount and more family fun, but you’ll also be able to register for individual weeks. Registration will close the week prior to each new theme.

Will Pickering staff be there in person for on-site activities?
We are currently planning to set these activities up at Pickering Creek so families can explore together safely on their own. As soon as conditions allow, we will begin including in-person programming as part of each week’s themes.

Does it matter how many members are in our family or group?
Nope! Each registration includes one set of journals, supplies, and gets you and your immediate family (members of your household) into our Zoom meetings and on-site activities. If you’d like a separate set of supplies for each camper, they will be available at a reduced rate during registration.

Are these activities scheduled for a specific time?
Our on-site activities will be set up at Pickering Creek for the entire week, so you and your family can explore and learn on your own schedule! The only scheduled activities will be our bi-weekly Zoom meetings. If we’re able to safely add in-person programming with Pickering educators to our on-site activities, we’ll schedule times for that as well.

Is this just for kids?
No! Your whole family will enjoy building forts, catching toads, exploring the trails, learning how to listen, and discovering new skills together. Use what you learn as a family to continue your outdoor adventures together long into the future!

Do we have to wear masks and social distance?
Yes, 
We follow CDC and Maryland Department of Health recommendations for social distancing at Pickering Creek. While we currently require visiting families to socially distance from other households and wear masks while on site. We will adjust our requirements if official recommendations change closer to summer.


We hope you and your family are as excited about EcoCamp Family Adventures as we are!

Reach out to Sammi Ocher, our EcoCamp Director, at samara.ocher@audubon.org with any questions.

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