Summer Science Camp #2

Another fantastic Summer Science Camp has come and gone, and once again we had an excellent group of kids! This camp was held at Abiquiu Lake, thanks to our partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Campers came in from Santa Fe, Española, and Abiquiu to explore the habitats of Abiquiu Lake and learn some place-based science. This week was particularly hot, and we were fortunate to have the lake as a place to cool off!

Decorating science notebooks and discussing the plans for the week


Weighing a plastic cylinder full of rocks to estimate its density
Testing our evaluation of the object’s density to see if it’s buoyant enough to float
A ranger from USACE discussing buoyancy and water safety with our campers
A camper getting fitted into a life jacket thanks to Abiquiu Lake’s life jacket loaner program
Learning to tie a new knot that is useful for tying up boats
Knot-tying session
Cooling off in the waters of Abiquiu Lake
Practicing teamwork


Exploring the lake shore after a kayak excursion


Trying out a new mode of transportation on the water
Setting off on a hike in the Jemez mountains to learn where our water comes from
Sketching a wildflower so that we can identify it later
Watching a coyote move through a meadow
Setting up emergency shelters
Students set up their shelters with very little help!
Emergency shelters turned into emergency ponchos as a quick afternoon shower passed over
Roasting marshmallows at our camp out
S’mores are one of the best parts of camping out!
Enjoying a night in the tent

We had a fantastic week of camp. Why can’t we do this every week? Thanks to The Pantry Restaurant for their generous sponsorship of this camp. We wouldn’t be able to do this without our sponsors!

We do have one more science camp taking place this summer at Heron Lake State Park near Tierra Amarilla, and this camp still has a few openings! If you know a child in the area who would like to participate, send them our way.

2016 Chama Summer Camp

Summer Science Camp #1

Last week was NMWC’s first Summer Science Camp of the year! This camp was generously sponsored by Owl Peak Farm in La Madera and brought in campers from La Madera, El Rito, Ojo Caliente, and Española. Students met at Bode’s General Store each morning, and we headed up to Abiquiu Lake for a day of fun in the sun!

First things first: we learned how to use compasses to guide our adventures
Hiking around the lake



Exploring the rocky areas around the lake

On Monday after our hike, we learned about buoyancy.

Before heading into the water we got an expert water safety talk from our local USACE rangers
Each camper was fitted with a life jacket. Students got to wear these jackets for the entire week thanks to Abiquiu Lake’s Life Jacket Loaner Program.
Each day we worked on our knot skills

On Tuesday we expanded our knowledge of buoyancy by building model boats.

Designing and building model boats
Each camper designed his/her own boat


Each design was different
Testing out boats on the lake. They all float!

Building model boats and learning why they float helps us understand why our canoes float.

It takes teamwork to get our boats to the lake!
A short tutorial on paddling
Taking the canoes out for the first time!
Paddling around the lake
A quick swim after canoeing

On Wednesday we headed up into the Santa Fe National Forest to explore a slightly different ecosystem and learn about where our water comes from.

Hiking into a gorgeous meadow
Learning how to sketch flowers so that they can be identified later using a book

On our mountain adventure we learned some basic survival skills and used our newfound knowledge of knots to build emergency shelters from ponchos.

Testing an emergency shelter
Some of the emergency shelters were pretty intricate!

On Thursday we headed back to Abiquiu Lake for a canoeing excursion and a picnic lunch on an island.



The whole gang, courtesy of one of our camp moms. Thanks, Valerie!




After this big day of exploring and playing in the lake, we headed to our group shelter for our Thursday night camp out. The campers put their tents up all by themselves (for the most part).

Tent assembly

Right after we put up our tents, a dark line of clouds approached.

Playing chess, unperturbed by the approaching storm
Watching the storm approach

Fortunately, the storm missed us, and the campers were happy spending a little time playing chess before dinner.

Roasting marshmellows for s’mores

On Friday we headed back to the lake for a half day of swimming and playing in the water before it was time to go home.



Returning our life jackets to USACE

We had an absolutely fantastic week with these great kids, and I think everybody learned a lot about science and about New Mexico’s precious water resources. We can’t wait for our next camp!

Owl Peak Farm Summer Camp

From July 6-10, NMWC hosted our second summer camp of the year. This camp was sponsored and hosted by Owl Peak Farm in La Madera, NM. We had another fantastic group of local kids, and we learned a lot of science during the week.

Hanging out at the farm.

A local farm is a fantastic place to hold a summer camp, and it provides ample opportunities to study plants and what they need to grow.

Planting collards.
Testing how plants react when something they need to grow is withheld.

We even got to help out on the farm a little!

Sorting carrots after thinning part of a row.
Sorting carrots after thinning part of a row.

Owl Peak Farm sits on the Tusas River, which gave us ample opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of riparian ecosystems, the importance of benthic macroinvertebrates, and the effects of beaver.

Exploring the river
Looking at benthic macroinvertebrates under a microscope
Looking at benthic macroinvertebrates under a microscope

Of course, not all of New Mexico is wetland, so we had to explore a nearby arroyo.

Checking out a drier area near the farm.

In this arroyo, we talked about geology. We noticed that some of the rocks looked like animals, so we took a few back to the farm and embellished them.

This rock looked like a fox!

On hot afternoons, we got to swim in the pool below El Ojito hot springs- it was a real treat!

Jumping in to cool off!

We practice tying knots on several days. One morning we hiked up behind the farm and discussed emergency shelters. This was particularly fun because it involved very little participation from the adults. Campers had to figure it out using their new knots!

Setting up emergency shelters.

  Everybody did a great job, and we enjoyed lunch in our little shelters.

Checking out a newly-constructed shelter.

The entire experience was incredibly fun for everybody involved. On the last day, we reviewed everything we discussed, and the campers remembered all of the science that we learned over the week.

We had a fantastic time, and we’re very grateful to Owl Peak Farm for supporting and hosting this camp!


Abiquiu Summer Science Camp

Last week was our first Summer Science Camp! We held it at Abiquiu Lake.

As you can see, we had a fantastic group of 10 kids (not all are shown below).

Picking up campers at a local institution.
Picking up campers at a local institution.

Each day students learned a new aspect of science: identifying local plants and animals or learning about density and buoyancy.

Heading off on a hike along the Rio Chama.
Heading off on a hike along the Rio Chama.
Identifying and recording life forms along the Rio Chama.
Identifying and recording life forms along the Rio Chama.
Learning about buoyancy,
Learning about buoyancy.
Weighing objects in a given volume to calculate density.
Weighing objects in a given volume to calculate density.
Using our new-found knowledge of buoyancy to build sailboats.
Using our new-found knowledge of buoyancy to build sailboats.
Taking a closer look at a local resident.
Taking a closer look at a local resident.

We also learned some important skills, like knot tying, how to canoe and kayak, and for one participant, how to swim.

Practicing knots.
Practicing knots.
Learning a new knot.
Learning a new knot.
Boating requires teamwork!
Boating requires teamwork!
Canoeing across Abiquiu Lake.
Canoeing across Abiquiu Lake.
Hooray for Abiquiu Lake!
Hooray for Abiquiu Lake!

We’re very grateful to our partners with the US Army Corps of Engineers at Abiquiu Lake for loaning us life jackets and making it possible for us to reserve a group shelter to keep out of the hot sun during the day and for camping on Thursday night. This camp would not have been possible without life jackets to keep us safe!

Ranger Austin explains why ducks float and children don't (without a life jacket).
Ranger Austin explains why ducks float and children don’t (without a life jacket).

      On Thursday night, a few parents joined us, and we spent the night at Abiquiu Lake.

A camper stands beside his tent.
A camper stands beside his tent.

We roasted hot dogs, cooked s’mores, and watched the stars. We observed the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with a telescope.

Campers watching the night sky.
Campers watching the night sky.

After our camp out, we cleaned up way more than just our group shelter! We wanted to leave the campground cleaner than we found it.

Campers with the trash they picked up.

It was a fantastic week, and we’re looking forward to offering this camp on more than one week next year!

Life jackets drying after a long day in the water.
Life jackets drying after a long day in the water.