Education Spotlight: Camp Green Meadows offering virtual lessons about natural science

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In ABC30's segment, Education Spotlight, Action News Anchor Landon Burke will talk with Merced County Office of Education (MCOE) officials about some of the biggest topics in education.

Camp Green Meadows has been a North Valley fixture for almost 60 years. Landon Burke spoke with the principal of the camp's outdoor school, Bob Bassett.

He discussed the program's benefit to local kids and how they're getting by in the pandemic.

Landon: Bob, so first of all, give me a little bit of background. What is Camp Green Meadows?

Bob: We are about a mile and a half from the southern entrance of Yosemite. We're at 5,000 feet. There's a little bit of snow around us right now that's leftover. And we are an outdoor residential science school, so kids, mostly sixth graders, come up to us. They live with us for a week and we teach them science, using the forest as the book, as the classroom. So instead of going, 'open your book to page 75, we're going to learn about decomposition,' we go out in the forest, and we look at a log that's decomposing, and kids actually pull it apart look at it and see what's making it happen.

Landon: Why is it so valuable to take kids out and telling them about these things that happen. To show them, and let them see it, let them touch it, firsthand. Why is that so valuable?

Bob: We all learn differently. Some of us are very successful in that box called the classroom, and we're able to go in and manage what we need to and be successful in that environment. Not every student learns exactly the same way. Some of them get out here that haven't been successful in the classroom, and they get out there, and they're able to move. They're able to do things. They're able to see things put their hands on things. Wow, I mean, you know, it's not just something in a book. It's alive and it's exciting. I actually have kids get off the bus. Last year, before we had to close down, I kid got off the bus come out and go, 'Wow, look at all these trees! When did they plant these?' There's just, trying to give them an understanding of this is so close to them and they all can come here and participate.

Landon: So let's talk about the adaption you guys had to make because of the pandemic. You guys are working with some restrictions. How are you guys adapting to keep providing this service for our local kids?

Bob: It's a struggle not having kids here right? We want kids to be here. We want to see them. We want to interact. Obviously, right now, we're not able to do that. So what we've done is we've taken our curriculum and we've adapted it. We've created a virtual Camp Green Meadows experience. We created videos that are naturalist. Our teachers, we call them "naturalist" because they're in the natural environment, and the naturalist are leading videos and walking kids through very strong California science-standards-based lessons. They're learning about science, and in this setting, obviously, it's not the same, but hopefully, kids are still able to participate, see some of this and be excited about learning.
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