Students study nature at Southington’s Camp Sloper

Students study nature at Southington’s Camp Sloper


SOUTHINGTON — A container filled with mud and slime from the pond at Camp Sloper sat in the center of a table surrounded by five Kelley School fourth-graders Tuesday.

Suddenly, the muck began to wiggle.

“Oh, there he is!”student Eli Culotta said. “He’s moving!”

The students used an iPad with a microscope attached to it to get a better look. After a few minutes, the students lost sight of the mysterious pond creature.

“If we find another bug we should take a video,” Eli said.

Students were in the new Myers Family Nature Center at the YMCA’s Camp Sloper as part of a program for all fourth-graders.

The new center is equipped with technology to help students experiment. Microscopes, projectors, iPads, and more were available.

Students were able to explore the pond, the wetlands and the forest at the camp. Assistant Camp Director Shane Altwies led the students in a discussion about the pond. Students referenced a document with a list and photos of insects and other creatures that might be in the pond.

Altwies projected photos and videos the students had taken on a screen. He noticed something moving through the mud in one of the videos.

“Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know we got that,” said student Seth Lespier.

The Nature Center was paid for with contributions from the community, including $20,000 from the Southington Education Foundation and $5,000 from Home Depot. The YMCA contributed $25,000 from its camp improvement fund.

A walk on the camp’s Wetland Boardwalk led students to a sinkhole. Before they arrived, students learned about wetlands and animals they might find there.

After about 20 minutes of walking, Tom Sangeloty, the environmental education staff member, showed students the sinkhole. He explained how a sinkhole is formed and that they can be very dangerous. A stick was in the center of the sinkhole.

“Take a guess at how deep you think this sinkhole is,” Sangeloty said.

He started to pull the stick out slowly.

“Wow,” one said. “That’s deep,” chimed in another.

The hole was nearly six feet deep.

Steve Silva, the team program director, took the students on a walk in the forest. Before going on the Orange Trail, Silva asked students to write down their observations as they walked.

“I found a bug,” said Ashlee Zawada, a fourth-grader.

“Take a look up in the trees.” Silva said. “Is there anything that you can see?”

Support Quality Local Journalism

Latest Videos