The Fernbrook Farms Environmental Education Center combines natural experiences available on a working farm and nature center with environmental learning from the Pine Barrens to the Jersey shore to provide children a break from their digital and suburban worlds.
“Once upon a time kids just went out and explored in nature and had fun,” says Brian Kuser, education and summer camp director at Fernbrook Farms. “Nowadays they don’t have the opportunity to do that anymore, and that’s what our camp provides for many kids — the opportunity to get outside and connect with nature and follow their own natural curiosities.”
Four structured camp choices are available for children ages 3 to 14, all emphasizing the natural world. The Fiddlehead (ages 6 to 11), Junior Fiddlehead (ages 5 to 6), and Pollywog (ages 3 to 5) camps allow children to explore nature in the farm’s fields, meadows, and creek. Structured activities in groups of no more than 10 provide an enriching experience that will broaden the child’s world and nurture their connections to nature, history, farm life, and ecology.
The Young Stewards camp focuses on agriculture, ecology, and community with visits to the Delaware Water Gap, the Appalachian Trail, state forests, the Pine Barrens, and the shore.
“Young stewards are the older campers. We like to think of New Jersey as our playground for the young stewards. They take a lot of day trips based on the themes of the week. For example, during the week on coastal ecology, they are taking trips to the Jersey shore to do hands-on activities at the shore to experience those ecosystems.”
Kuser stresses that each week is different, and children can attend as often as they want.
“There are so many reasons to love camp at Fernbrook Farms, but my favorite part is seeing the pure joy emanating from a child when they are engaged with nature. I love that it can take on so many different forms at so many different ages. Maybe it is the 4-year-old getting to jump in a mud puddle for the first time, the 7-year-old catching their first praying mantis, the 10-year-old discovering a new bend in the creek, or the 13-year-old overjoyed with being able to share their nature knowledge with the younger campers.”
The staff at Fernbrook Farms love to see the joy radiating from a camper, knowing it is real rather than contrived.
“In today’s world so many kids are constantly holding something electronic, or running through a bouncy house, or finding some other way to have a manufactured stimulus,” Kuser says. “It is gratifying to know that a child’s innocent natural curiosities can bring such joy to them and nature can be the stimulus.”
Fernbrook Farms Education Center Summer Camp
144 Bordentown-Georgetown Road, Chesterfield, NJ 08515