Woodward, Okla. —
Alabaster Caverns State Park is offering a week-long camp this summer to encourage students to get out and explore.
The camp, which is called Mission: Exploration-A Science Experience, is being offered for youngsters who will be going into the 7th and 8th grades.
Alabaster Caverns Park Manager Mike Caywood said the goal of the summer camp is "to get kids interested in science and get them interested in the things around us."
"Anymore kids are more interested in cell phones and computers than getting outside and exploring the world we live in," Caywood said. "This camp will show them there are lots of things they can do outside to interest them."
This will be the first year for the park to hold the camp.
Caywood said the new program is made possible through a partnership with the University of Central Oklahoma, which has facilities at the Selman Living Laboratory that is located 8 miles west of Alabaster Caverns.
"That's where the camp will be based out of," Caywood said. "But we'll be making trips to other locations. We'll go to the Salt Plains one day and dig crystals, and we'll go to Boiling Springs one day, and we'll come here to Alabaster Caverns and do some caving."
In addition to the field trips, he said students will participate in classes led by professionals from a variety of field of studies.
"We just want to share the expertise of our presenters with the kids and maybe they can learn about some skills they didn't know before," Caywood said.
For example, he said that Karla Beatty, an education coordinator with the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, will be presenting a program on Project WET, which "explores the different facets of how we use water and how to conserve water. It's basically a sustainability program."
Also Melynda Hickman with the Wildlife Department will come lead the students on a bird walk and bat viewing, Caywood said.
"We'll also have storm tracking with Marty Logan (News 9 storm spotter) coming out with his storm tracker vehicle to talk about weather," he said.
Other classes include astronomy, macro-invertebrates, geology, cave formation and safety, animal adaptation, and native plants.
Caywood said the camp covers a wide range of science topics "to kind of give the students an idea of the diverse world around them and the entire ecosystem they're living in. Also we ought to catch some of everybody's interest that way."
And after classes, he said there will be different entertainment activities for the students including a trip to the Mooreland swimming pool and a stargazing party.
"We don't just want it to be a think tank, so we have different things for the kids to have fun also," Caywood said.
Students interested in attending the camp must complete an application form as the camp is limited to 20 students, 10 boys and 10 girls.
As part of the application, Caywood said the students must write an essay of 500 words or less explaining why they want to participate in the camp.
For more information about the camp or to request an application form, contact Caywood at the Alabaster Caverns Park office by phone at (580) 621-3381 or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Completed applications are due, postmarked by May 17.
"The camp will start the evening of June 10 and we will be dismissing the kids on June 14, so it's 4 nights and 5 days," Caywood said.
There is a tuition fee for the camp, which is due upon a child's acceptance to the camp, Caywood said. The fee will cover all the child's expenses including meals, learning materials and a camp T-shirt.