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The Eco-responsible Family Blog—Summer Camps for Young Eco-warriors

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Every now and then I wonder—like all good mums wanting to instil their children with environmental and social values, I guess—whether I’m too much. Am I putting them off when I wax lyrical about the environment, say what I think about overconsumption and pollution, and enthuse about active and public transportation, healthy local organic food and fair trade?

Fortunately, just the opposite is happening. Despite a few jokes and the occasional tease, there are more and more small victories, like when my son says, “Let’s go by bike, it’s better for the environment!” The tongue-in-cheek remarks like “Mum, you’re going to like this—it’s ECO-F-R-I-E-N-D-L-Y” are quickly forgotten!

My mission is simple—to make good choices so my children grow up to be responsible, informed individuals who are aware of their environment and their impact on it. At the moment, these values are influencing my choice of activities for the 9 or 10 weeks of school holidays, while we parents are out working.

The yearly challenge of organizing the kids’ summer starts in February. And it’s quite a challenge: trying to limit the cost (some camps cost an arm and a leg), making sure the kids will have a great time, avoiding creating a hectic summer schedule—it’s their vacation, after all—varying the activities and organizing them around our own holidays. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Various camps now focus on the environment, nature, animals, outdoor activities, etc.—forward-thinking camps that teach values and are fun at the same time.

Here are a few worth knowing about:

  • L’espace pour la vie day camps : The Biodôme, Insectarium, Botanical Garden—a program where children get to discover the world of bugs, meet researchers and learn about conservation and their natural surroundings. My son just loved digging in and getting dirty.
  • Port-au-Saumon ecology centre : This pioneer in natural sciences for young people is located in the majestic landscape of the Charlevoix region.
  • La ferme Marichel : On this real farm, children discover the important connection between people and the earth that feeds them.
  • La ferme d’André : Children’s imagination and creativity are top priority at this camp, where the main activities include horseback riding and fun with farm animals.
  • Ecomuseum Zoo : For children who love seeing zoo animals . . . in nature!
  • GUEPE camps specializing in natural sciences and the environment )
  • The Amis de la montagne day camp in the heart of Mount Royal Park 
  • At the Héritage St-Bernard eco-camp, young nature lovers get to explore Île Saint-Bernard [St. Bernard Island].
  • At the Croque-Science camps, children explore the world of natural sciences in various places in the Montérégie region.

Other ideas

  • Check out the Certified Camps of Quebec Association website—you’ll find a variety of programs centred on the environment. More and more camps are offering them, and perhaps your kids’ favourite camp is, too!
  • Find out about nature or outdoor programs offered in your neighbourhood’s community camps.
  • Did you know? The zero waste camp project educates young people about environmentally sound waste management on their camp sites and zero waste lunches.

Have you thought about spending more time with your kids this summer? Last summer, I got the chance to spend several weeks with my two boys and it was one of my best summers! Sometimes, doing nothing, visiting grandparents more often, going camping during the week, doing the wading-pool circuit and making homemade ice cream is all you need to have a wonderful summer!

It’s -20 outside, but as I read about all these summer camp activities, I can just see myself walking around with the kids in shorts and T-shirts, soaking up the hot sun. Have a great February!