Fun, bugs and adventure abound with Key Pen Parks summer offerings


Scott Turner, KP News

Grace Nesbit handles a stick bug last month at Volunteer Park. Devynn Wallace and Mallory Riddle focus on other insects during the outdoor session of the park sponsored “Insect Safari.” Photo by Scott Turner, KP News

Summer is a busy time for Key Pen Parks, with specially focused camps taking place all season long.

It started in early July with an Insect Safari, according to recreation assistant Brittany Langdon.

“We had about eight kids attend that one,” she said. “We started out by making journals, and butterflies from coffee filters.

“Then the kids got a little taste of insect vocabulary,” and Don Ehlen, a bug guy from Seattle, brought his bug collection and his live insects like cockroaches, stick insects and other large critters. “The kids got to handle the live specimens,” Langdon said.

Eight-year-old Samuel Pounds had a great time at Insect Safari. “I liked learning about spiders. They’re not insects –– they’re … arachnids,” he said, pausing for just a moment to think of the right word.

Sam Babbitt, 9, agreed.

“It’s really fun. We learned all about insects. We went adventuring in the woods. exploring their habitat and then we got to touch real insects like stick bugs,” he said as he examined the live specimens. “We don’t have a lot of these insects here.”

According to Ehlen, the program focused on classification and taxonomy.

“We talked about the six major groups of arthropods, insects being one of them. We also talked about vertebrate classification and classification in general.

“Classification is the foundation of biology. It’s the framework that helps you understand the rest of biology as you move along,” Ehlen said.

Ehlen’s bug collection includes 2,100 specimens from all over the world. The live insects are especially popular, he said, because “kids want to see the real thing.”

Other July camps included yoga and meditation and an Eco Adventure Wild Water camp, which featured daily visits to sites with natural water sources such as Puget Sound and local creeks and lakes.

In August Key Pen Parks will host an Eco Adventure: Farm Tour Aug. 4-8, Langdon said. That camp will be primarily for 8- to 12-year-olds.

According to the Key Pen Parks website, the Eco Adventure Farm Tour will start at Volunteer Park and then continue to a permaculture wonderland and forest. From there, campers will visit Blue Willow Lavender, Cape-E and Kaukiki farms.

Instructors from Pierce County Educators, Key Pen Parks staff and farmers will lead the tour.

Two LEGO camps also will take place Aug. 11-15:

The LEGO Superhero Academy, for 5- to 7-year-olds, will be led by Bricks 4 Kidz instructors. Young campers will go on a superhero LEGO adventure.

Angry Birdies & Bad Piglets, a creatively themed LEGO camp for kids 8-12, will also be led by Bricks 4 Kidz.

Both camps will be hosted at Volunteer Park and will feature models designed for specific age groups and skill levels. There are even motorized models.

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Key Pen Parks will host three weeklong summer camps in August.

Eco Adventure: Farm Tour, for ages 8-12, takes place Aug. 4-8. Cost is $109.

LEGO Superhero Academy, for kids ages 5-7, takes place Aug. 11-15. Campers will have a superhero LEGO adventure led by Bricks 4 Kids instructors. Cost is $135.

Angry Birdies & Bad Piglets LEGO camp, also led by Bricks 4 Kids, also takes place Aug. 11-15. This camp is for 8- to 12-year-olds. Cost is $135. [/box]