A Note About Current Drought Conditions

While the Cayuga Nature Center does not rely on municipal water supply, we are equally concerned about the current drought conditions affecting our area, and are adhering to the voluntary water restrictions set forth by the Department of Health last week.

In terms of how this affects our camp, we will be transporting lake water for all activities and irrigation needs that can make use of unfiltered water. Campers will still be provided filtered spring water for drinking, and encouraged to regularly wash hands before lunch and snack using the water from our well system.

As a parent, you can help us to reiterate the importance of water conservation during this critical time by explaining to your camper the current environmental conditions and their impacts, as well as the importance of respecting the water supply. Many common behaviors we are attempting to discourage in the camp setting include campers walking away from running faucets,  using bathroom sinks for splash play or intentionally flooding the sink, and frequent dumping of water bottles for refills because the camper believes the water is too warm or has “gone bad”.

By educating our campers on the reasoning behind these restrictions, we can encourage a more responsible attitude towards the conservation of this very important resource, and help protect our well water supply by cutting down on our consumption rate.

We thank you for your understanding and hope you help us in this initiative.


Week Five! (July 25 – 29)

It was “The Prehistoric Past”  week for our Explorer Camp program this week, and we had so much fun learning about the animals that lived on our local lands before us. We found fossils from an ancient Devonian sea along the lakeshore, wiggled, hoped, and flew our way through dinosaur locomotion, constructed replica dinosaur nests hidden within our forests, investigated the evolution of feathers from scales, and spied on some “modern dinosaurs” in the form of birds in our backyard, and learned all about the ice age mammals that used to call New York home – from giant sloths to the toothy Smilodon.


Some of our “dino eggs” drying on a very resourceful rack.

Maureen Bickley, Education Manager at the Museum of the Earth, joined us Monday to do a live presentation of fossil preparation, and taught our older campers how to extract their own encased fossils. Ingrid Zabel, Climate Change Education Manager for the Paleontological Research Institution, also joined us on Monday and led a fascinating program on how scientists reconstruct prehistoric climates of the Earth by analyzing core samples and their pollen grains. Campers enjoyed a hands – on coring experiment that was especially delicious, simulated by the counting of different colored sprinkles within a heavily layered cake.

Friday was especially exciting as we enjoyed a field trip to the Museum of the Earth itself, where we were treated to a private tour from Dr. Maureen Bickley. She showed us the gargantuan inhabitants of the Museum, including the whale and mastodon skeletons, and both real and replicated dinosaurs. Our older campers also enjoyed a behind – the – scenes – tour of the Fossil Preparation Lab. Our younger campers got silly with some dino dress -up and excavations in the simulated dig pit.

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Our Art Campers enjoyed a week full of nature – inspired creativity including flower pressing, journaling, plant pounding prints, leaf inking, watercolor painting, and candle making while our TEAM Challenge camp spent the week reinforcing their communication and leadership skills working on our ropes course and pushing themselves to step outside of their comfort zones. They certainly braved the stormy weather on Monday, working on their introductory exorcises in our covered Sugar Shack in the afternoon. This kind of team spirit and unity was easy to see on Tuesday as they cheered each other on through their swim tests at the Waterfront, and carried through to our more difficult high ropes elements as they attempted them on Friday.

All in all it was an eventful and informative week for all! Now at our midpoint through the summer camp season, we cannot believe the many things we have already seen and shared, and look forward to an equally exciting next five weeks to come.

Week Four! (July 18 – 22)

What had some amazing discoveries this week as we roved across the landscape exploring habitats and learning many new things about why such a variety of creatures call the Cayuga Nature Center home.

While not in its normal nesting habitat, we are happy to report that our Eastern Phoebe eggs discovered Week One in our treehouse have hatched and have grown into fully feathered fledglings. We took a quick peek at the last fledgling, taking a snooze in his nest. The parent birds were spotted watching closely from a nearby branch, darting in and out of Treetops to check frequently on their home of grass and moss, and the little one still inside.


The Eastern Phoebe fledgling takes a snooze in its nest (right side of nest).

Our Preschoolers got to work assisting local guest artist, Still Zussman, with our camp – wide project this summer constructing a small metropolis of homes of all kinds, constructed entirely of natural materials, and looking to animal homes for inspiration. Our growing city has officially been dubbed “Stick City” by popular vote of the campers. Feel free to tour the village with your camper, which is located just around the corner of the building and to the left of the camp entrance.

Our Animal campers gave some great educational presentations to the rest of our camp each morning, and flexed their creative skills by creating their own Pokemon characters, based on the animals housed within our lodge. They also led an informative questions and answer session about Ace, our Red- Tailed Hawk, while their counselors did a live flying demonstration in the field.


our Animal Camp answers questions as Ace gets ready to take wing in the background


During our swim time at the Waterfront, we were pleasantly surprised to find the shed scales from a Northern Banded Watersnake. The campers noticed that the shed felt thick and rubbery, and not unlike a jellyfish, when compared to the thinner and more brittle sheds we regularly collect from the snakes within our animal collection.


We also enjoyed, on Thursday afternoon, a lively musical performance from Fabi, as part of the Grassroots Music Festival’s “Roots in Schools” program. The band played several latin tunes for the campers before leading a song-writing workshop featuring animals chosen by the campers including Bear (Oso), Wolf (Lobo), Squid (Calamar), and Fox (Zorro). The campers then showed off their best dance moves to finish the day!

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For next week our Explorer program will be working with staff and taking a Friday field trip to our partner educational venue, the Museum of the Earth, as we study “Our Prehistoric Past”! We are excited to see what the next week has in store for our camp!



Week Three! (July 11 – 15)

The summer is already flying by as we took a trip back in time for our “People of the Past” week. We enjoyed a lovely presentation from Carole West of the History Center who taught us all about Native American bead working! Our Critter Campers enjoyed some time cooling off by the stream as they searched for salamanders…


While they did find a few in the stream, we wrangled a more interesting creature from just outside the camp office who joined the Critter campers as a guest for a few days. He was named, “Master Splinter” by one of our staffers.


The one and only, “Master Splinter”

With temperatures rising, we kept it cool with some sprinklers and water relays near our Turtle Pond.

And to end the week our Explorer camp made hand – dipped candles and had a fascinating demonstration of wool spinning from one of our educators, Sarah Grove, using a travel wheel.

We are looking forward to next week but prepare for potential thunderstorms on Monday afternoon!


Week Two! (July 4 – 8)

We had a wonderful second week exploring all about a bug’s life! We had a wonderful presentations from Brian Gollands, a hobby entomologist, who guided our campers in dissecting a wasps nests, helped us find live creepy crawlies in our back fields, and taught us all about insect decomposers!

Our campers also got up and close with some of the insects in our Animal Collection with Sarah Grove, our Assistant Animal Curator.

We enjoyed morning presentations of some of our other animal ambassadors from the members of our Animal Camp and our Art Camp enjoyed some animal themed illustrations and even created their own science cartoons!

Check back in next week for more adventures and discoveries from our third week, where we will be learning all about the People of the Past!

Week One! (June 27 – July 1)

What a great way to start off summer 2016! We had fun with mud learning about climate change, gardening, and water conservation with Ingrid Zabel, the Climate Change Education Manager of the Paleontological Research Institution. We also explored some helpful medicinal plants growing on the property and learned (from a safe distance!) how to identify harmful poisonous plants like Poison Ivy and Wild Parsnip.

Some of our older campers took stewardship of our trails, helping pull and control dangerous invasives such as Garlic Mustard and Swallow Wort. Along the way, they discovered a GIANT Leopard Slug, and snapped a picture for proof.


Check out the slime trail this guy leaves behind!

Another group spotted an active birds nest in our six – story treehouse, Treetops, but it was too high to peek into, and we certainly did not want to disturb it! As a courteous solution, the counselor used a “selfie stick” to snap a quick photo into the nest while mom was off on an errand. We’ll be sure to keep a close eye on this brood as they develop through the summer!


Our Treetops birdies!

We certainly look forward to many more discoveries and adventures as our summer continues! Our week two will feature insect studies, education presentations from our Animal camp, and maybe even an extra snack or two from our ripening blackcaps!


Beautiful swimming weather during our first week!