COLUMBUS, Ohio — Put 100 teenagers in the woods for a week, in a place with spotty cellphone service, and you’d think they’d be bored.
But teach them about the nature there, allow time for fishing and swimming, offer the occasional climb up a 10-story oak tree, and “the kids really seem to love it,” said Marne Titchenell, co-director of the Ohio Forestry Association’s 66th annual Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Camp.
The camp is June 11-16 at Ohio FFA’s Camp Muskingum on Leesville Lake in eastern Ohio. It’s for students who have completed 8th grade through those who have just graduated from high school. Its goal is to introduce campers to trees, birds, bugs, mammals and more, including how to manage them.
All outdoors, all the time
The campers are “constantly engaged in outdoor activities,” whether measuring trees, identifying birds, hiking, kayaking or playing games, said Titchenell, who’s a wildlife program specialist in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. The school is part of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
More than 30 natural resource professionals, including Titchenell for the seventh year in a row, serve as the camp’s instructors.
“Every year, we hear comments from students saying they didn’t realize how much work goes into managing a forest,” Titchenell said. “The best comments are those that say, ‘I realize now that I want to work in natural resources,’ or, ‘This camp made me want to be a forest manager.’
“In fact, many of our campers have gone on to careers in natural resources.”
Seeing, doing, learning
Last year, campers witnessed a timber harvest taking place at the camp. They saw firsthand what they’d been learning about from their instructors.
“Now, every year, they can return to the harvest area to see how it changes,” Titchenell said.
Another year offered a tree-climbing class.
“We were teaching the campers about taking care of trees from the arborist’s perspective,” Titchenell said. “So we gave them the chance to climb a 100-foot-tall red oak. It was incredible.”
Cell phones on hold
Campers also are asked to give their cell phones a rest except for taking pictures. The idea is to help the campers “focus on why they’re here: to enjoy the great outdoors,” Titchenell said.
Details on the camp, including links to a sample schedule and online registration, are at go.osu.edu/2017ForestryCamp.
Registration for the camp is $375, which includes lodging and meals. A number of scholarships are available to reduce the cost.
“Sometimes there are more scholarships available than we can use,” Titchenell said.
She encourages interested campers to learn more about the scholarships by calling the Ohio Forestry Association at 1-888-388-TREES or by visiting go.osu.edu/2017ForestryCamp.
Camp Muskingum is in Carrollton in Carroll County, about 60 miles south of Akron, 70 miles southwest of Youngstown, 95 miles south of Cleveland and 140 miles east of Columbus.
Last year’s attendance was about 80, but the camp can accommodate up to 125.
Each year’s campers become a “surprisingly tight-knit group,” Titchenell said. “Kids from all kinds of backgrounds become friends at camp.”