Former teachers run summer camp at Morris farm
By Jeanne Millsap For The Herald-News May 22, 2012 2:24PM
Students learn about geology and other sciences at the Pioneer Valley Farm Summer camp in Morris. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Updated: July 2, 2012 9:19AM
MORRIS — An unusual summer camp has cropped up for kids in the Morris area. It’s held on a working organic farm and teaches about growing and selling crops and about ecosystems and nature. It also teaches about electricity, art, creative writing, cartography, public speaking, building math, rockets and astronomy.
A former Joliet Central (and Plainfield South) science teacher, Dave Nusbaumer, runs the Pioneer Valley Farm Summer Camp, with help from retired Joliet Township High School career and vocation education director John Kilday and Morris teacher recruiter Jill Toussaint.
Kilday, in fact, is the fruit tree educator in the summer camp and will teach the students all about growing apples in his orchards.
The students will learn something different every day, Nusbaumer says, all in the middle of the great outdoors.
The camp began last year as a way encourage young kids to explore subjects they might not be able to during the school year. It’s a lot better than just sitting at home playing video games, the organizers say.
The impressive list of educators assembled by the camp includes school superintendents and physicians, although many will be teaching some surprising subjects, like Dr. Charles Comfort, who will be talking to the campers about fossils.
“I think it will expose kids to people and experiences they might not normally have,” Toussaint said. “I think it’s a brilliant idea to bring these kids outside and expose them to real-life concepts and even careers.”
The not-for-profit camp also uses college students for counselors, and Nusbaumer said they love it, too.
“The counselors are local kids who are going to college to major in education,” he said. “It went very well last year.”
Most of the classes in the three-week programs are held outdoors, although Nusbaumer has an air-conditioned building at his Ottawa farm if needed.
Nusbaumer has enjoyed sharing science with others since his days as a teenager working summers at a Boy Scout camp. When he resigned from teaching, he and his wife opened a Morris day-care center, Prairieland Kids. Tutoring has been big at the center, too, he said.
It was last summer when his camp opened.
“I’ve probably never left teaching,“ he said with a laugh. “This camp is for parents who believe that education is important and who want their kids to be the best they can be. They’ll have a lot of fun, too. We make it fun.”
There are still a few openings left in the camp for this summer, and some scholarships are available for families who need the financial help.
For more information about Pioneer Valley Farm, visit www.pioneervalleyfarm.net or email email@example.com.