Run, Play, Garden: Camp Green Star Teaches Kids Urban Agriculture

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Run, Play, Garden: Camp Green Star Teaches Kids Urban Agriculture

By Mary Eberle | Photos By courtesy of Camp Green Star 0

Kids in the Madison area have a new way to play outdoors this summer. Camp Green Star, a newly launched summer camp for ages 7 to 13, teaches kids about sustainability and urban agriculture through fun, hands-on activities.

In the seven-acre outdoor classroom, teachers lead activities focused on gardening, raising chickens and composting. The garden serves as a learning lab where kids practice gardening skills, harvest healthy snacks and learn how bees pollinate the flowers that produce our food. The space surrounding the garden allows kids to play and explore the prairie. An indoor space is used for daily snacks and shelter.

Campers get the opportunity to observe sustainable gardening methods in action. The groundskeeper shows the kids a garden tractor that runs on waste vegetable oil. The kids water the garden with rainwater collected in a 2000-gallon tank and fertilize the garden with compost made on-site.

Lessons in making healthy food choices is easy with fresh snacks from the garden. Green peas, orange carrots, and red radishes make for a perfect study on the benefits of “eating the rainbow.” Kids also learn about healthier butter and ice cream by making them from scratch with fresh, organic ingredients.

Kids at Camp Green Star interact daily with the resident hens, including a friendly chicken named ZiggyBobo who is favorite to hold. After gaining confidence with her, kids try catching the elusive Americana chickens, who lay blue eggs. Camp Green Star encourages kids to develop their leadership skills—kids who have their own backyard flocks lead several of the lessons on raising chickens.

Last year, the camp's inaugural summer, was a big success. Several kids signed up for an additional week after completing their first. One initially-reluctant camper proclaimed at the week's end that he was going to attend until he was 28 years old. Another camper asked if she could stay the rest of her life. The kids left at the end of the week with a basic education in permaculture, gardening, making healthy food choices, and conserving energy—practical skills that can inspire them throughout their lives.

Camp Green Star is a secular (non-religious) camp held at the Madison Christian Community near Madison's west side. The camp is now enrolling 7 to 13 year old kids for one week long afternoon sessions. Go to for more information and to enroll your child.

Mary Eberle is the camp director and a teacher at Camp Green Star, where kids learn about gardening, raising chickens, and sustainability.  She founded First Step Renew, LLC, which offers urban homesteading classes and runs Camp Green Star. Mary gardens, cooks, and raises chickens in Madison, Wisconsin with her three nephews.  She has a Bachelors degree in biology, practiced patent law, and earned a Permaculture Design Certificate.

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