Toddler Camp: Forest

Charlotte Stabile and her grandpa Gary Kiefer explore the forest along with an adventurous outdoor group as they looked to uncover nature’s treasures up close with a magnifying glass during the Pioneer Ridge toddler camp.

PIONEER RIDGE — Summer camps at Pioneer Ridge start in July.

Wapello County Naturalist Annette Wittrock said the decision to allow summer camps came after Gov. Kim Reynolds gave the green light to allow small in-person camps. No more than eight campers are allowed at each session. Campers must submit a health form and temperatures will be taken. Face masks are optional.

“Camps are always open,” Wittrock said. “However, what will be different is we won’t allow parents to tag along. We have to limit groups to make room for the two or three instructors. They might not want to register them because of concerns, but we hope they will.”

What can kids look forward to?

“Each camp will be different,” she said. “It’s meant to look closer at the natural life on earth and what that means.” And there are a variety of sessions.

Four types of camps are offered: toddler, junior naturalist, overnight paddle, and art and patterns in nature camps. Toddler camp is for 2-to-4-year-olds and is scheduled from 9-11 a.m. July 9. Toddlers will learn about different snakes; cost is $5 per camper.

Junior naturalist camp is open to 8-to-12-year-olds. Camp is scheduled from 9 a.m. July 13 to 3:30 p.m. July 16. Campers will learn more about fishing, caring for injured animals, geocaching, outdoor cooking and more. The last day will involve a completion ceremony; cost is $60.

Overnight paddle camp is for those 13-15 years old. The session is from 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 22, to 4 p.m. Thursday, July 23. Teens will learn basic canoe and camping skills at a lake and campground, paddle down the Des Moines River and camp overnight. This camp requires travel in a 15-passenger van and is limited to seven campers. Participants must provide their own tent, water bottle, sleeping bag and lunch for the first day. Snacks and meals will be provided; cost is $60 per person.

Art and patterns in nature camp is for 5-7-year-olds. Camp is from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 27 to July 29. Campers will find artistic patterns in nature and make their own. “Activities may include sun printing, mud art, candles and more,” Wittrock said. Cost is $40 per person.

Wittrock encourages campers to sign up and guarantees a balance between safety and fun.

“We want what’s best for them and will work with the guidelines, hoping they’ll feel comfortable,” she said. “We are offering the take-home kits, but they’re not the same as face-to-face interaction. We want to be there to serve and let them learn.”

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, contact Wittrock at 641-682-3091 or at

Chiara Romero can be reached at


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