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What’s a Loon?

We respect every creature, even if they are slippery

We have our first guest blogger for our Now Is My Story blog.  This post was written by one of our past campers, and CJ Staff Alum, Jessy Zich.  Jessy has traveled the world following her passion for the environment and its creatures.  She has shared her passion with many campers and staff at Camp Jorn, which we are grateful.  This passion, she credits as being nurtured through attending CJ, has inspired her to continue to pass her knowledge and caring on to the future leaders of tomorrow.  Enjoy

It is hard to imagine a time before cell phones, video games, the Internet and social networks.  It’s hard to imagine such times, because it’s hard to believe that we ever survived without such devices, but we did.   Today such forms of technology have taken over our lives and the way we live, in ways we probably never imagined possible.  Worst of all, it is taking away the childhoods of many children.

Take your average American teenager, for example.  They probably have a cell phone that is just as nice as the one their parents have.  This average American child also spends about 40 to 50 hours a week on social networks, television and video games.  In fact they have a whole social world at their fingertips and a whole made up self-image online.  They may spend a little time outside at school recess, or sports functions.  Depending on their neighborhood, they may not have access to parks and other areas of recreation.  Some neighborhoods may be too dangerous, and others far out in the suburbs where parks are only accessible by car.

Of course this is not the case for every child, but studies are showing that the majority of our children are simply losing their childhood.  Yes, they are being entirely robbed of building forts, getting scrapes on their legs, collecting bugs, and playing in the dirt!  They are losing the best part of their years, years that are crucial for exploration, self-development, and building friendships.

One of the greatest losses with all of this is a child’s relationship with nature.  Our children are becoming nature deficient as Richard Louv coins it, in Last Child Left in The Woods.  Our kids can easily name every African mammal, but cannot name a single local mammal other than a squirrel.  The childhood their parents had may be much different then their own.  Simply put, when we had no reason to be inside, we weren’t.  Not having a reason to stay inside, may be why being outdoors was a huge part of being a kid.

There are several ways in which parents can bring their children back to nature.  Simply limiting the amount of time they use media devices, taking them to natural areas, going on camping trips, and sending them to outdoor camps.

Camps such as Camp Jorn YMCA, play a vital role in the development of children.  It’s a real life, hands on, life changing experience.  Campers grow as individuals, meet friends, learn about responsibility, and discover the world around them.  For those kids lucky enough to experience Camp Jorn, they are able to see the northwoods, and live and become a part of it.  Camp Jorn’s Environmental Program encourages children to take time to discover what the Northwoods has to offer.  Campers are able to do a variety of activities, from nature hikes, canoeing to the island and looking for the resident bald eagle’s nest, learning outdoor survival, and looking for small creatures on the shores of Rest Lake.

Campers don’t have to be in Environmental class to experience nature.  Courses and night hikes are offered for cabin activities as well.  On trips, campers explore northern Wisconsin by foot or canoe.   They learn how to look at maps, and become more aware of their surroundings. After a whole day of working together to get to their campsite and prepare dinner, they sleep under the stars.   More than likely they are awakened by the cries of a common Loon on one of the many lakes in Vilas County.  Last year some of our campers sat and watched as the Northern Lights flickered in green and red across the sky; they watched eagles soar, saw the milky way, helped make a fire, sailed across a lake and had days filled with laughter and happiness.  Camp Jorn provides a positive adventurous experience for children and adults of all ages.  We hope to see you there!

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