It’s summer at Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, and summer marks a serious change of pace for the normally quiet, secluded park with wooded trails, surprisingly close to the Bluebonnet Library and the Mall of Louisiana.
Forty-eight girls, ages 7 to 10, took over the center’s education building for the week, as part of a series of day camps put on by the BREC facility. “We were limited to 30 campers for each session up until this year,” said Lauren Herbert, an educator at the center. BREC renovated a building at the edge of the property, accessible by Glenstone Place, which opened at the beginning of the summer.
“We were cramped into a small back room in the other building, so we didn’t have much room for people, and practically no storage,” Herbert said. But the new education building changed all that. “It’s great. We have a ton of room now, and that allowed us to expand.”
The 7- to 10-year-olds were there last week for Swamp Stompers. This age group is divided up by gender, as well.
Other age groups are the Swamp Squirts, ages 5 and 6, and the Swamp Explorers, ages 11 to 14.
In addition to a visit from Wendy Lincoln at Magic Happens Rabbit Rescue, the girls spent their time on hikes of the grounds, learning about native plants and animals, and playing games to help that knowledge sink in.
Campers used their craft time to make puppets of animals who live in the area — the alligator, deer, cardinal, fox, and opossum among them.
They then spent afternoons writing and performing plays on the makeshift puppet stage for each other. “The first day of camp, nobody said a word. You could hear a pin drop,” Herbert said.
The noise grew exponentially from there. “They got over their shyness really fast,” she said.
The girls also made “bug hotels” that they’ll put in their backyards to see what kind of bugs different plants attract and created their own water slide in back of the education building.
Last week’s camp included a visit from Wings of Hope Wildlife Sanctuary Director Leslie Lattimore, who brought three raptors in her care — two owls and a red-tail hawk.
Three have injuries too severe to be released back into the wild. The girls learned how to distinguish birds of prey from other birds and the many ways birds can be injured in the modern world.
For more information about swamp camp, visit brec.org, find “camps” under the Events tab, and click on Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center Camp.
For more information on Wings of Hope, visit wingsofhoperehab.org.