Nonprofit’s farm camp places kids face to face with animals

lpemberton@theolympian.comJuly 15, 2013 

A typical day at Nature Nurtures Farm west of Olympia is busy.

After all, there are eggs to collect, chicks to cuddle and horses to groom. On really hot days, there also are water hoses and sprinklers to play in – and those were a big hit during the nonprofit’s farm camp last week.

Located on 23 acres in the Delphi Valley, Nature Nurtures is offering several horsemanship and farm camps for youths age 7 and up throughout the summer.

Prices range from $250 for farm camp to $395 for horse camps. Proceeds help support the nonprofit, which offers a year-round youth mentoring program.

“I think kids in modern society don’t have the opportunities that kids in previous generations had to be outside and have some unstructured time in the summer,” said executive director Nicole Peters. “Our mission is to bring young people and animals together to build empathy, teach responsibility and inspire hope.”

Nature Nurtures Farm is home to about 100 critters, including alpacas, pigeons and several horses that were rescued from slaughter trucks, animal hoarders and other unfortunate situations.

During farm camp, youths perform farm chores such as weeding the garden, grooming horses and scrubbing out water buckets. But they also get to pet goats, play games, hike in the woods and go on a trail ride.

Camp director Michelle Thieling described the farm as “a magical place” where kids can have fun and enjoy life without video games and other electronic gadgets.

“Animals can be such great teachers in terms of respect and responsibility,” Thieling added.

In addition to the camps, Nature Nurtures offers Open Farm Days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month, where community members can visit the farm and interact with the animals. A suggested donation of $5 a person goes to help care for the animals and support the nonprofit’s work.

Program director Julie Peters said she’s had kids visit the farm who were surprised when they harvested carrots.

“They’ll be like, ‘Whoa, that grows underground?’ ” she said. “They’ve only seen baby carrots in a bag.”

Nine-year-old Sarah Rousch said she can’t get enough of Nature Nurtures Farm, and she tries to spend as much time there as she can.

“I enjoy just being out with all of the animals,” she said, as she carefully held a 5-week-old chick on her lap at farm camp. “It’s fun and exciting.”

Learn more

For more information about farm camp, go to naturenurturesfarm.org or call 360-878-7730.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com theolympian.com/edblog @Lisa_Pemberton

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