The camp is for kids between five and 12 years old. It is divided into two sessions, Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Each session has about 25 kids who are divided up by age so the groups have an even amount.
Activities include gardening, composting, cooking and food preparation using the goods they grow, and other nature-related activities. Kids learn about insects, worms, birds and other animals, and take wild life tours through the 39-acre Botanical Garden.
They grow vegetables, fruit, berries and flowers among other plant life. The camp is set up with a structured learning component, but involves mostly visual and hands-on work outside, to keep it from feeling like school.
“It's a unique program because there's a garden for them to work in and grow their own vegetables,” said Shari Romar, new media manager for the Garden. “They learn about not just gardening, but the whole natural world around them.”
Romar said kids often come back for several sessions.
She said gardening is important to learn at a young age because it helps kids take pride in their food, rather than settling for whatever is available in a grocery store.
Gardening teaches responsibility and teamwork, for example organizing a plant-watering schedule, and pulling up ripe veggies is good exercise, Romar said.
“It's important for children and adults, but especially at a young age, to understand where their food comes from,” she explained. “There's a real amount of pride that you get when you're pulling up your own beets and your own carrots.”
Composting is one of the favored activities, Romar said.
“The kids get such a kick out of feeding the worms,” she said, adding that “it's important for them to understand the whole natural ecosystem and it's important for them to learn what goes into those beets and carrots that they pull up.”
When the kids aren't playing in the dirt or learning technical terms, they go on field trips into the Garden, hunting for insects, bird watching or just exploring, Romar said.
The Garden is home to pheasants and more than 50 other species of birds, red-tailed fox, squirrels, and other animals – in addition to its plethora of plant life.
Romar said the Garden teaches kids that they don't have to travel or go on vacation to see wild life.
“There's a lot of nature right here in a city where you just wouldn't expect it to be,” she said.
For more information on the Garden or the camp, visit Queensbotanical.org.