The Northern Neck Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society was pleased to sponsor DeShay Smith of Lancaster at the Nature Camp in Vesuvius, Virginia this past summer. DeShay is an enthusiastic eighth grader at Lancaster Middle School and was selected to receive this scholarship by the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Neck, where he is an active member. DaShay was recently named Youth of the Month by the Club.
Nature Camp is a private, non-profit, residential, co-ed summer camp specializing in natural history and environmental science education, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. As an academic camp it emphasizes hands-on, field-based, experiential learning. Campers learn in a variety of settings, including classrooms both inside and out (although even these are non-traditional, such as a semi-circle of wooden benches under a tree canopy), and they can expect to take notes in most classes. But campers also spend much of their time out of doors investigating nature up close: behind the eyepieces of binoculars, knee-deep in a cold stream, running behind a butterfly net, and on hands and knees with eyes peeled on the ground. Nature Camp is surrounded on three sides by several thousand acres of the Jefferson National Forest, which provides an extensive outdoor classroom.
DeShay recently spoke to the annual meeting of the Chapter and recounted that his favorite subject is mycology (the study of fungi!). He explained in detail the various activities in which he engaged at Nature Camp, amazing the audience with his understanding of ecology and the importance of biodiversity. He answered a number of our questions and demonstrated that he clearly had gained a lot of knowledge while having a good time. He noted that although the camp was quite rigorous, he would like to go back again.
Our chapter was quite impressed with DeShay’s presentation and has decided to double our commitment and sponsor two youths for next summer’s program. The Boys and Girls Club has again been requested to oversee the selection process, this time of one each boy ands girl. For further information on the Boys and Girls Club please see: http://bgcnn.com/; for further information on Nature Camp, please see: http://naturecamp.net/.