Free Summer Camps: Watershed Camp for Kids & Art and Nature Camp for Kids

Do you remember summer camp as a child? The joy of being outdoors. The awe of exploring nature. The camaraderie of friends. Summer camp brought time-tested goodness to your life. And the Illinois River Watershed Partnership strives to do the same.                                                      

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership is offering two, free summer camps for youth ages 8-12: the “Watershed Camp for Kids,” and the “Art and Nature Camp for Kids.”

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Campers in these supervised programs are challenged to learn and explore nature, while getting up close and personal through observation, experimentation and creative play.

The goal is to inspire youth to develop awareness and appreciation for their watershed. It’s a hands-on summer experience they’ll never forget!

These are day camps – from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. – so your child doesn’t have to worry about the overnight butterflies. Yet they’ll feel like they are worlds away at the newly established Watershed Sanctuary at the Lake in Cave Springs in Benton County. Situated on 30 acres of pristine land, the sanctuary is robust with natural beauty and home to rare plant and animal life.

The “Watershed Camp for Kids” is returning for its third consecutive year. Hundreds of youth in Northwest Arkansas and Northeastern  Oklahoma have attended since the camp began in 2010.  Campers can enjoy the magic of summertime through a variety of supervised activities, including Watershed Mania games; geo-caching; bug kicking; water-quality monitoring and fishing, kayaking and canoeing lessons.

“The Watershed Camp gives kids the opportunity to learn about their local watershed, wetlands and wildlife through active learning,” said Dr. Delia Haak, executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. “They’ll discover how the watershed is tied to area ecosystems, while building a strong connection to and appreciation of our amazing environment.” 

Parents are invited to register their child for one of the following dates: June 26, 27 and 28 and July 24, 25 and 26. Enrollment in on a first-come, first-serve basis, and registration is required. CLICK HERE to register.

Campers should wear clothes and shoes suitable for outdoor exploration. Check-in is at the Illinois River Watershed Partnership office at 219 S. Main Street in Cave Springs.

The “Art and Nature Camp for Kids” is brand new, and will be led by award-winning artist John Lasater, who lives along the Illinois River in Siloam Springs. Lasater will treat campers to Plein Air art lessons – an open-air style of painting that focuses on natural landscapes. Artwork from the camp will be eligible for the 2013 Illinois River Salon Art Exhibition.

Artwork awarded in the exhibition will be on display Oct. 3-4, during the Illinois River Watershed Partnerships’ “Restoration of Our Rivers” annual conference at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

“Forms of art help us to experience nature at a deeper, more personal level,” Haak said. “Through art, children develop a greater awareness and appreciation of our rich natural heritage and watershed.”

The one-day camp is held on the following dates: June 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 and July 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and registration is required. CLICK HERE to register.

 For more information email: or call (479) 238-4671.

The Illinois River Watershed Partnership is a not-for-profit organization, working to protect the Illinois River and its tributaries throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma. Their focus is on improving the integrity of the Illinois River through public education and community outreach, water quality monitoring, and the implementation of conservation and restoration practices throughout the watershed.