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JCC kids camps more varied than ever

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Away from their laptops and video games, a group of teens stripped bark from trees to create rope-like cording and learned how to build huts in the forest near Jefferson Community College.

The Outdoor Survival Skills camp is one of about 20 youth camps being held at the college throughout the summer.

“I think we have a more varied schedule this year,” said Andrea C. Pedrick, college coordinator of community services.

Camps range from Awesome Archery this week, based on the “Hunger Games” trilogy, to Girls Day Out in mid-August, based on the American Girl dolls. Another new camp this year, Adventures in History: the War of 1812, is being funded through a New York Council for the Humanities grant. The camp is $10 and runs July 8-11 for children in second through fourth grades and again July 15 to 18 for children in fifth through seventh grades.

Mrs. Pedrick said there still is plenty of room in the Sackets Harbor history camp as well as several other programs.

“This is a joy for the young kids,” program instructor Todd B. Bettinger said. “I see the sparkle in their eyes as they reconnect to nature.”

The camp gives participants from seventh to ninth grades real survival skills if they were to get lost in the woods for two or three days.

“I like to be reassured that if I ever get lost going camping, I would be able to survive,” said Dalton T. Hardison, 12.

Tavicque E. Stewart, 12, agreed.

“I just like knowing that if I get lost in the woods, I can use what my ancestors did,” he said.

They learn how to hunt with a throwing stick, how birds alert other forest animals of potential danger, how to purify water and how to build a primitive hut that can offer shelter during nights as cold as 20 degrees.

“It was pretty cool to learn about the bird alarms,” said Courtland D. Burdick, 14. “I kind of want to get dropped off in the middle of the woods and see if I can survive for a week.”

Both Ike P.J. Jamieson, 12, and Cameron L. Sheitz, 13, thought it was interesting to learn a dozen primitive and modern ways to purify water.

They also learned which vegetation is always safe to eat, such as grass seeds and acorns. To get vitamin C, they learned to boil pine needles to make tea.

“Basically, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t know how to be hunters and gatherers,” Mr. Bettinger said.

In addition to the youth camps, there is a variety of adult and community workshops. For more information, visit http://wdt.me/vRH3y7.

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