Connecting with Community: Jameson Camp

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Jameson Camp could be one of the best kept secrets in Indianapolis.

Tucked away with 130 acres on Indy's west side, it's an opportunity for Central Indiana kids to connect classroom learning with real-life experience.

More than 100 second graders from Clinton Young Elementary School were ready to learn and have fun through Jameson Camp’s environmental educational experience.

Executive Director Dan Shepley said there’s always something new to discover.

"For many of these kids, it's the first time they've been outdoors in this kind of setting," he said.

The students fan out, and work together on different learning experiences.

Finding bugs and worms to study?

No problem for second grader Chloe Kammerer.

“I picked up a big big fat worm with my bare hands," she said.

“It's a real, hands-on experiential learning experience where they are not only outside moving around having a good time, and not sitting at a desk all day, but they're also learning about what it means to preserve the planet and be junior scientists," Shepley said.

One instance is an archeology dig.

Students learn how to find artifacts, and record their discoveries. Some imagination is also involved.

Eddie Wyatt couldn’t wait to show us what he found!

“We found a big, big footprint, (it could belong to) I don't know, probably a long time ago a velociraptor or something, kinda like a dinosaur or something," he said.

Whatever that something was, teacher Randyn Payne sees Jameson camp as an opportunity to take what's taught in books, and make it come alive.

“There's only so much you can to in a classroom so to get out here, get dirty, get down," Payne said. They're really engaging themselves and they're talking to each other. It's just coming together so great. This is one of those moments why you become a teacher.”

Shepley sees the excitement every day.

“Their eyes are lighting up and their mouths are going," he said. "It's one of those things when you realize you've given them something that they haven't had before. It's that sense of wonder. It's that sense of appreciation.”

Learning comes into focus at Jameson Camp.

Through bird watching, hikes, and even a little classroom time in the nature center, school lessons become life lessons.

“You come here and you're part of what you're studying," Shepley said. "You're able to now have that emotional connection to it."

Jameson Camp not only offers these school experiences, but also summer camp and overnight opportunities to more than 7,000 kids every year.

Camper fees are based on a sliding-scale fee to enable children from different family circumstances the opportunity to participate.

You can help support the mission of the camp Thursday by attending a breakfast fundraiser.