While we’ve shared many of our special events here on the blog, we haven’t really explained in detail what happens here during a typical week. From late August through May, each week we host middle school students for our All the Rivers Run resident camp program. Students and teachers spend four days and three nights with us here at the Environmental Education Center to learn, explore, and develop a personal connection to nature.
Each week starts out with an opening ceremony. Students gather around a mock Cuyahoga River and are welcomed to the park. We start with our theme song All the Rivers Run, have an official park welcome with a park ranger, and learn an overview of valley history through the interactive Cuyahoga Chant. Sometimes, we have unexpected visitors show up from the book of history. (Check out the post Beware of the Book of History for details).
Top of the Watershed
What does it mean to live in a healthy watershed?
To become acclimated to the outdoor surroundings, the first class students have is Top of the Watershed. During this class, students learn about topography, erosion, and where water flows in a watershed. The majority of the class is spent on a student-led ramble hike, exploring the CVEEC’s trails, and discovering the remarkable biodiversity of the area.
How do we know what happened to our watershed in the past, and how do we know what will happen to our watershed in the future?
This class is all about learning the history of the Cuyahoga Valley. Starting 3.9 billion years ago and working up to the present, students find time capsules in the forest containing rocks and artifacts showing changes through time. Time capsules highlight volcanoes, the Silurian Sea, fern covered mountains, the Ice Age, American Indians, the canal era, and the foundation of the National Park.
Roles and Residences
How can we determine if an ecosystem is healthy based on what lives there?
Roles and Residences focuses on different ecosystems in the National Park. Students explore biodiversity by visiting the meadow, forest, and pond. We talk about energy transfer through the food chain, and discover how we, as people, fit into the food chain as well.
Journey to the River
How do we know if the water in our watershed is healthy?
For Journey to the River, students learn about human impacts to the watershed. We board busses and head down to the Cuyahoga River to do water quality testing. Students test for phosphate levels, dissolved oxygen levels, and turbidity. Using graphs in their books and their collected data, students determine the overall water quality grade of the river. With remaining time, students explore old canal locks and learn a basic history of the Ohio and Erie Canal.
Onward to Eco Place
This class has students learn about sustainable building design. Starting with a scavenger hunt around the November Lodge, students learn about sustainable design elements like sun tubes, solar panels, rain chains, green roofs, and geothermal heating units. Students see our recycled carpet made from salvaged plastic bottles, our wind turbine, and learn how wetlands can be used to treat sewage water! After learning the facts, students apply their knowledge to a sustainable building of their choice. The rest of class is spent building models and constructing posters to explain the creative sustainable features. Students present their posters and models to the other kids later in the week.
Each night of the resident program offers fun activities as well. Students go on a night hike, explore different art disciplines, play games from around the world, learn about America’s other National Parks, and more. On Friday, students do a Watershed Walk as their final class here at the center. After writing reflective letters about their week experience, students hike out to visit a favorite place at the EEC. Finally, everyone meets back up for closing ceremony, where students earn their very own official Cuyahoga Valley National Park Jr Ranger badge!
Interested in attending our resident camp program with your school? Check out our website for more information!