State Park Educational Programs for Children of All Ages
Dewey Beach, DE – When the young participants realized they had to reach their hands into the bowl filled with squid specimens, faces changed from mild interest to pure disgust. The two naturalists leading the squid dissection program eagerly encouraged each child to choose a specimen; the dissection was really going to be fun, they assured, but could only continue if they reached into the bowl.
Once the program ended, one young girl, the most squeamish of the class, proudly displayed the squid “pen” she pulled from its mantle. “It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.”
Delaware Seashore State Park offers a variety of environmental and historical programs geared to children of all ages. These programs seek to nourish the participant’s interest in the natural world at each key age group. Younger children can participate in programs such as “Little Rangers”, ages 2 to 4, and Seining the Bay, ages 2 and up. Little Rangers is a program held Wednesdays that focuses on teaching participants about seashore life through sensory exploration. Both children and adults participate in the seining program on Tuesdays at Holts Landing, and Fridays at Delaware Seashore, in which those enrolled learn how to use a seine net, still commonly used in marine research, to catch organisms within the bay. These organisms are then transferred to a baby pool where naturalists identify and discuss each species.
Children ages 5 to 7 can attend the “Junior Naturalists” program, offered every Wednesday at the same time as Little Rangers. This program focuses on life found at the park and encourages the participants to look for each creature talked about as they travel to and from the beach. On Tuesdays, children 5 and up can participate in a program entitled “Shipwrecks & Buried Treasure.” During this program, participants learn about the history of the Indian River Life-Saving station, local shipwrecks, and how to use a GPS unit to search for their very own buried treasure. Children 6 and up can participate in the “Squid Dissection: From Pen to Ink!” program, offered on Thursdays. During this very interactive and hands-on program, participants gain familiarity with mollusk anatomy and write their name with squid ink!
While most of the programs at the park are about an hour in length, “1-Day” Day Camp, is a four hour camp open for children ages 8 to 11 on Thursdays. Campers learn about what organisms that call this park their home while exploring the marsh, beach, and bay ecosystems. This program is the only program where parents can drop their children off and return at the conclusion.
For more details and to pre-register for these programs, please call the Indian River Life-Saving Station at (302) 227-6991. For a full state park events calendar, visit http://destateparks.com/park/delaware-seashore/programs/.