IGLLS students experience science at camp

Saturday, September 25, 2010
Park Ranger Steve Reighard offers assistance, as well as words of encouragement, to Iowa Great Lakes Lutheran sixth grader Ellyse Knaak while fishing off the dock. (Photo by Susan Christensen)

Area students learned that science and physical fitness can be fun this week at Camp Okoboji.

Thirteen Iowa Great Lakes Lutheran School fifth- and sixth-grade students joined peers from Zion Lutheran School in Denison, St. Paul's Lutheran School in Sioux City and St. Paul Lutheran School in Fort Dodge at a retreat which occurred between Sunday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

"The goal was for kids to learn about God's creation by experiencing it outdoors and at camp," said IGLLS teacher Angie Schauer.

Students rotated between three activities at the camp. One session featured a "traveling laboratory" that tapped into the elementary schools' science curriculums. An ecology bus and staff from Lakefield, Minn., transported the students to a nearby marsh to take water samples and view "God's creation from a different view."

"The students took nets, bumped them along the bottom of the marsh and then collected tiny creatures in bottles," Schauer said. "We found (things like) a water scorpion and the nymph stage of dragonflies. They were looking at what makes a healthy marsh and what makes a not-healthy marsh in all the little creatures that live there that we don't usually see."

Students found that the marsh they visited was "healthy" through the aquatic life they collected.

Another camp session had Department of Natural Resources park rangers explaining the fish found in West Lake Okoboji and then baiting hooks for the students to fish with.

"One of our groups caught over 30 fish in an hour," Schauer said. "They had a great time with that. The DNR guys would take the fish off the hooks for them and tell them what kinds they were. They had friendly competitions for the boys and the girls."

A third activity students participated in had them tackling an outdoor fitness trail and doing fitness activities in nearby Keanu Park.

Molly Schlichtemeier (left) and Jenna Schauer are among the Iowa Great Lakes Lutheran School fifth grade students who participated in an outdoor science camp this week at Camp Okoboji. (Photo by Susan Christensen)

"The fitness park is a hidden treasure," said Lori Gamble, Camp Okoboji's program director. "It gets kids being outside and it works on their physical fitness. There are different stations where they do sit-ups and pull-ups, run through tires and climb over a wall."

Upon the IGLLS students' return to their classrooms this week, Schauer said, "I can tell you that today they're all coming away saying, 'My body hurts.' The kids were really pretty good at the stretching parts and the sit-up parts. The things that were hard for them were the upper body and strength, where they had to walk on their arms on the parallel bars. At one point, there's a rope you need to climb and there were just a few children that were able to do that. So, I'd say they had pretty strong legs, but their upper body strength is something they can work on."

"It all revolved around God's creation," Schauer said of this week's camp. "Our theme was 'God Splashes,' because we were in the rivers, the lakes and the marsh."

The IGLLS third- and fourth-grade teacher also noted that several IGLLS students have indicated they'd like to attend future Camp Okoboji activities this summer.

"My kids that were kind of bah humbug about going had such a good time that they're asking if they couldn't go to camp for a week," she said. "So, they enjoyed staying up at camp and having that freedom to learn about the outdoors and science in a more fun setting, where it was more exploratory rather than in the classroom where you're sitting down. And, they really got to see the neat things that God's created, the big and small. They had a blast and they're exhausted."

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