The joy of exploring nature in summer camps at Tervete Nature Park

Traditionally, nature exploration camps at Tervete Nature Park are attended by children between 6 and 12 from all over Latvia. This year, 74 children were visiting three camps for almost a week to explore the nature and perform sports activities and creative work.

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In the mornings, the children studied and explored the forest life, at the same times acquiring knowledge on how to protect the forest, as well as learning and assessing the renewable resource – wood. The Park's Woodcarving Workshop enabled the youngsters to track the multiple changes of a tree; they were happy to witness the making of benches, tables, and other outdoor objects, which are pleasing more than 100 thousand visitors at Tervete Nature Park every year. The Park's environment specialists urged the children to think about the forest friends – birds, as well as its enemies – certain insect species, which can cause significant harm to the trees. For example, the 7-8 millimeter long European spruce bark beetle, who becomes so aggressive with its peers that it can dry up a tree in a matter of days.

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The things seen and heard at Zalenieki tree nursery made one wonder how much power is needed for a tiny seed to turn into a mighty tree. Everyone took their own cutting of a barberry, which was planted with their own hands, to bring it home.

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Pigman, Latvian State Forests' chief fighter for cleanness, reminded everyone a common fact: "Don't litter the forest! You'll turn into a pig!" During the meeting, Pigman indicated how important it is to turn love for a clean and orderly environment into a habit already during childhood. Competitions and the promise to not litter in nature go hand in hand with a performance of the joyful anthem on clean forests.

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A meeting with the forest animal trail expert Agris Germanis was also on the schedule, as the specialist introduced the forest friends with the diversity of Latvia's forest animals, offering practical advice on how to make fodder bundles. The green gifts pleased not only the park's animals, but also the rare domestic animals of the biological farmstead "Abelites" in Bukaisi region.

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The camp's participants enjoyed witnessing the study of water animals in Tervete Lake, which was supplemented by an opportunity to take a boat ride and meet a real fisherman. He shared his experience, advised on what one should bring along when fishing in a licensed reservoir, demonstrated an impressive catch of fish, and taught how to successfully catch crayfish.

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Edgars Gaigalis, the head of the 181st scouts unit presented youngsters and teachers with survival skills in nature and orienteering sports activities for the evening. The camp's participants were welcomed with an unexpected opportunity – to spend a couple of nights in the newly-built wooded tree houses in "Zala nometne" (Green Camp). What feelings does one encounter when sleeping overnight in a forest? This could be best described by the children and families who will have the opportunity of spending a night in this shelter next year.

The contents of the environmental study camp at Tervete Nature Park are based on the newly-developed program "Izzini mezu" (Learning About the Forest) by "Latvian State Forests".