Garrett College program, based on TV show, has them cleaning up manure, among other lessons
The Cumberland Times-News Sun Aug 07, 2011, 11:52 PM EDT
— GRANTSVILLE — For most kids, summer camp means swimming pools, bonfires and toasted marshmallows, but not for about a dozen Garrett County children.
Participants in Garrett College’s “Dirty Jobs” adventure camp have learned about plumbing and landscaping and glass-blowing. They’ve even toured a landfill.
Mike Rowe would be proud.
“We watched a couple of clips from the TV show,” said Elizabeth Ray, camp director, who modeled the program after The Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe,” in which the host tries his hand at a variety of messy tasks.
“We saw an episode about pig farming and composting. Oh, and there was one about a monkey ranch. The kids thought that was really crazy.”
On Thursday, the group visited the BlueBell Alpaca Farm near Grantsville.
Bob Gilman, who owns the farm with his wife, Jo, got the group busy right away.
“Everybody grab a handful of feed,” Gilman said, as alpacas gathered around, gently nudging the children. “That’s your job — to feed them.”
Then Gilman got down and dirty, showing the campers how to scoop poop and sweep out the barn.
“Go on, guys, I want to see that place spotless,” Gilman teased, as the children took turns scooping and sweeping. “You’re saving me a lot of work.”
“It stinks!” one camper said.
“Yes, it stinks,” Gilman said. “That’s what a barnyard will do.”
Exposing campers to “dirty jobs” was just one of the themes that Ray dreamed up for adventure camps this summer.
Garrett College, which piloted a single weeklong camp last summer, offered eight camps this year, including “Food for Thought,” a program about growing and preparing food; “Going Green,” which took children to a recycling plant; and “Weird Science,” which included plenty of experiments.
“We made rockets and made stuff explode,” Ray said, adding that “Weird Science” seemed to be the most popular camp. “We made lava lamps out of vegetable oil and Alka Seltzer and water. They really liked that week.”
The camps, for children ages 6 to 10, cost $90 per week, and next week’s “Science and Technology” camp is the last one this summer. Ray, an early childhood education major at West Virginia University, hopes the college will offer them again next summer.
“We’ve done a lot of really fun stuff,” said Ray, adding that visiting the landfill wasn’t her favorite activity. “It was gross. It was really stinky.”
As for the alpacas, Gilman said it takes about two hours a day to feed and clean up after the 50 animals on the farm. Full-time farmhand Candace Swauger doesn’t mind getting dirty.
“It makes the day go by quick,” said Swauger, who showed children how to use a badminton racket to pound dust from fleeced alpaca wool.
“Then you have to nit-pick all this stuff out of here,” Swauger said, pulling thorns and grass from the wool.
Seven-year-old Emilia Germain said she thought the alpacas were “pretty neat.”
“Except when they spit on you,” Emilia said. “Otherwise, I think they’re pretty nice … I would like to get an alpaca, but we have nine cats, two dogs and two crabs.”
Contact Kristin Harty Barkley at firstname.lastname@example.org
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