Farm Camp: Hands in the dirt learning and fun
Less than a mile down Gardiner Road off Route 1 in Wiscasset, you will find the Morris Farm. Started in 1994, the Morris Farm is one of the last operational farms in the area that acts as both a working farm and a valuable educational resource.
During the summer months, kids ages 4 to 11 can attend Farm Camp there. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, with two-day, three-day, and week-long options for families. Farm Camp was first started in 2005 at Turkey Hill Farm in Cape Elizabeth, and came to the Morris Farm in 2009.
Morris Farm's Farm Camp is about more than petting cute animals and playing tag in the fields, though campers do a lot of that. It's about teaching the next generation about the importance of farming and gardening, respect for nature, and “hands-in-the-dirt-fun,” according to camp counselor Sam Chandler.
“We do chores every day, that's really getting into the vibe of a farm,” he said. “We do whatever we can do to teach them about gardening. The animals are usually more interesting, they're more into that, so we do as much as we can help with the animals. Occasionally we might clean a pen.”
The campers who attended the last week in July learned about sprouting alfalfa sprouts before planting, tended the camp garden, and collected eggs from the chickens. They took walks in the trails behind the farm, which extend over 10 acres and connect to the Wiscasset Town Trails. They learned about music from Chandler, who plays both the piano and guitar, and created a puppet show of “Charlotte's Web.” They also spent a lot of time just running around outside and having fun climbing on the wrapped hay bales, known as marshmallows.
“I like everything about camp,” said 6-year-old camper Micaela Royal. “I like taking trips in the woods and learning about the trees and edible stuff.”
“I really like the pigs,” said 7-year-old camper Caleb Longbottom. “I like them cause they're cute and not scary at all.”
“I like going to the Yurt,” Caleb's older brother, 9-year-old Micah Longbottom, said. The Yurt is a semi-permanent structure located on the back trails. “I like the chickens too, and making tie dye.”
“The woods are fun,” said 13-year-old junior counselor helper Will Rankin. “It's a great place to make forts.”
“The pigs are great,” said 9-year-old camper Mason Mowry.
“He started going to camp when he was 4,” said Mason's mother, Brae Mowry. “He's loved it every single year.”
“Whatever kind of farming, growing, back to nature thing we can do with the kids, that's what we'll do,” Chandler said. “We go out in the woods and have outdoor adventures.
“We focus on having nature be the playground as opposed to the iPad and all that stuff,” Chandler said.
There is also a Junior Counselor Volunteer Program, which is free for ages 13 to 16. Junior Counselors aged 15 and 16 get paid for their time, at a rate of $100 per week.
Farm Camp goes until Aug. 21. Contact Jeanine Bischoff at 207-518-3427 for more information.