Forest Fantasy Camp

I know what you are thinking:  what can magic and dragons and potions have to do with environmental education?  Believe it or not, many of the classes that JK Rowling came up with for students to take while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are a perfect fit for teaching kids about the outdoors.  Herbology?  That's botany!  Potions?  How about making stuff with the plants you learned about in Herbology?  Care of Magical Creatures?  That translates into learning about any of the many species of animals that live around here (and perhaps inventing a few additional ones just to add a spark of imagination).  Defense Against the Dark Arts?  How about learning how to become invisible?

Check out what we did:

Monday.  Campers were sorted into their Houses: Pyrewyrm, Wulfrun or Eagleloft.   Afterwards they made their wands.

 Each House could earn points by answering questions correctly and doing good deeds.  Points were lost when campers didn't follow rules.

Each House could earn points by answering questions correctly and doing good deeds.  Points were lost when campers didn't follow rules.

 Campers enjoyed decorating their wands and wanted to bring them everywhere.

Campers enjoyed decorating their wands and wanted to bring them everywhere.

Our first full class was Herbology, and we learned about some of the plants that grow here that have healing properties, like jewelweed and plantain.  After lunch, it was time for Potions, and we made a healing salve with plantain that we harvested right here.

 Healing Salve:  Healer's Friend (plantain) simmering in Bog Juice (olive oil).  Will be strained and the liquid will have Golden Wax (bees wax) added to produce a salve.  Each camper received a small jar of salve.

Healing Salve:  Healer's Friend (plantain) simmering in Bog Juice (olive oil).  Will be strained and the liquid will have Golden Wax (bees wax) added to produce a salve.  Each camper received a small jar of salve.

Tuesday.  We were supposed to study aquatic creatures in Care of Magical Creatures (with Professor Cora Animacules), but the stream was still a bit too high, and most campers were not prepared to go in.   

 Looking for critters...watching out for Grindylows.

Looking for critters...watching out for Grindylows.

 It was slim pickings, but we did find a crusty toe-grabber (crayfish).

It was slim pickings, but we did find a crusty toe-grabber (crayfish).

After lunch, we had an Astronomy lesson and learned about a few of the constellations that are associated with the Harry Potter books, as well as learning which ones campers would be likely to see even if they live in the city.  Everyone made a star wheel to take home.

Wednesday.  We were back in Herbology this morning, and Professor Albus Quercus taught the campers about some of the dangerous and/or interesting plants that live here (Tentacula/poison ivy; Devil's Sting/wood nettle; Mandrake/mayapple).  Campers recorded them in their spellbooks.

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Then it was time for Potions again, and this time we made Enemy Repellent, with Manticore Milk (glue), Goblin Slobber (starch) and Goblin Blood (food coloring).  Three drops on the trail behind you will keep your enemies from following you.

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We spent some time in The Grove...

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...and ended the day making Bowtruckles (guardians of wand trees, according to JKR) to take home.

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Thursday.  Care of Magical Creatures was first on the docket this morning.  We learned about some woodland creatures and built a few fairy homes.

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After "summoning" a Fire Snake on the screened-in porch (baking soda, powdered sugar, alcohol and sand), we had lunch and then spent the afternoon in Defense Against the Dark Arts class with Professor Danielle Spinifera, where we leared about invisibility.  And what is better to teach invisibility than camouflage in the mud?!

 At first we tried just adding water to some mud left behind by recent rains.

At first we tried just adding water to some mud left behind by recent rains.

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 But then Prof. Spinifera took the campers down to the stream where we found the mother load of mud.

But then Prof. Spinifera took the campers down to the stream where we found the mother load of mud.

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 Once we were good and muddy, it was time to add some vegetation...

Once we were good and muddy, it was time to add some vegetation...

 ...and then see if the campers could disappear in the woods.  It worked pretty well.

...and then see if the campers could disappear in the woods.  It worked pretty well.

Friday.  Our day began with a Dragon Egg Hunt.  A dragon came through the forest during the night and had laid her eggs along the path.  We searched for them and then helped the baby dragons hatch.

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 This egg had a Forest Spirit guarding it.  It later proved to have twins in it!

This egg had a Forest Spirit guarding it.  It later proved to have twins in it!

 We helped the hatchlings emerge.

We helped the hatchlings emerge.

 Everyone with his or her hatchling.

Everyone with his or her hatchling.

That afternoon Professor Quercus did an Augury and Aeromancy lesson.  Campers learned how people throughout history used birds and bird behavior to predict events (augury), and then how to read the clouds to know what kind of weather is on the way. 

 Looking at the lone cloud in the sky to figure out what the upcoming weather might be.

Looking at the lone cloud in the sky to figure out what the upcoming weather might be.

Next we took our O.W.L.s - tests to see how much we learned this week.  Everyone passed!  

It was then time to award the House Cup.  Wulfrun House had the most points and won the cup for this inaugural year of Forest Fantasy Camp.  Everyone also got a Pygmy Puff to take home.

 Members of Wulfrun House, with their Head of House, Prof. Cora Animacules.

Members of Wulfrun House, with their Head of House, Prof. Cora Animacules.

 Eagleloft House, with their Head of House, Prof. Albus Quercus.

Eagleloft House, with their Head of House, Prof. Albus Quercus.

 Pyrewyrm House, with their Head of House, Prof. Danielle Spinifera.

Pyrewyrm House, with their Head of House, Prof. Danielle Spinifera.

The afternoon was slated to be another scorcher, so we were ready with our Water Olympics!  It was a great way to wrap up a fun and adventurous camp.

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Will we be offering this camp again next year?  I'm thinking YES!

Most sincerely yours, Headmistress Eleanor Plunkett