Fired Up about Camp

Did you know there’s a camp where teens get to fight fire? Not a scary western wildfire, but a well-behaved one that actually improves the environment?

Last summer, a group of teenagers at Camp Woods & Wildlife learned firsthand how to manage a prescribed fire. These intrepid campers donned fire-retardant gear and set about preparing for a small understory burn.

First, they raked a fire line down to bare soil to keep the fire contained. Then, under the watchful eyes of Virginia Department of Forestry personnel, they used a drip torch to light the forest duff. The June humidity kept the fire low, but campers were prepared with backpack tanks in case of any flare-ups.

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The campers learned that managed fire cuts down the amount of dry “fuel” on the forest floor, thus reducing the chances of an uncontrolled wildfire later. Many mature trees are tolerant of low-intensity prescribed fire, and they benefit from reduced competition when the fire kills smaller woody vegetation. Fire can even improve wildlife habitat by creating growing conditions for plants that provide food and cover.

Teens who want to experience real-world environmental practices like prescribed fire are invited to attend this year’s Camp Woods & Wildlife, scheduled for June 22-27, 2020 at Holiday Lake 4-H Center. The camp is open to any Virginia resident aged 13-16 with an interest in natural resources who has not attended before. Any non-related adult can nominate a camper.

Check out www.dof.virginia.gov/forestry/camp for more Information.

Field Notes: What’s in the Woods Today? July 26, 2018

Kids!

by Forester Lisa Deaton

Many localities and organizations offer great opportunities for kids to enjoy the outdoors at summer camps and day camps.  The Virginia Department of Forestry, in cooperation with natural resource conservation agencies and organizations, offers Holiday Lake Forestry Camp for 13-16 year olds every summer at the Holiday Lake 4-H Center near Appomattox, Virginia.

Our local day-campers all learn about Smokey Bear and his fire prevention rules.  When we began discussing wildfire last week, one camper stole the show by enthusiastically sharing the three types of wildfire with us: ground fires, surface fires, and canopy fires.

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Then we went outside to listen to the sounds of the outdoors while nestled in hammocks.

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The campers drew sound maps of everything they heard.

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We also listened to recordings of blue heron calls, fox calls, and the Smokey the Bear Song.

An older group of campers canoed across the lake and built survival shelters.

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It takes me about 30 minutes to hang up a dozen hammocks.  These three ducks patiently watched me hang hammocks this morning (below).

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