Friday, April 20, 2018

Spots still available for summer 2018!

Mississippi River Water Journey Camps will be held for their third year this June, Register Soon!

Update: 5/11

Water Journey: Rain
Where does the rain go? Get ready to explore as you follow water's path from the sky to the land and down the storm drain, through a wetland, and all the way to the Mississippi River! Get your hands dirty planning to protect water at a wetland. All week you'll take photos and make art about your discoveries on your field trips, and share your work in an online gallery using story maps! No prior experience or equipment is needed.

Openings in younger age group as of 5/11-confirm at registration site:
June 18-22, Ages 6-8,   Fee $299
June 18-22, Ages 9-11, Fee $299 CLOSED 

Water Journey: Drink
Where does water in our drinking fountain come from? Where does it go? Get ready for a grand adventure as you follow water in and out of pipes, and through treatment plants all the way to the Mississippi River! Get your hands dirty planting to protect water at a wetland. All week you'll take photos and make art about your discoveries on your field trips, and share your work in an online gallery using story maps! No prior experience or equipment is needed.

Openings in older age group as of 5/11-confirm at registration site:
June 25-29, Ages 6-8,   Fee $299 WAIT LIST
June 25-29, Ages 9-11, Fee $299
Link to Registration Site:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Story of Water Journey Camps goes to San Diego!

Part of the Water Journey Camps was the creation of GIS Story Maps that feature camper's photography, words, and artwork. GIS Story Maps combine interactive maps and map making with multi-media story telling. To see the GIS Story Maps from the last two camps, go to the pages labeled Rain Story Map and Drink Story Map. Staff and campers used the maps throughout the week to plan and reflect on the journey. At the final exhibit reception, campers operated the interactive screen to show their families the story maps they helped create, and to tell them the story of the journey.

Researcher and camp model developer, Jonee Kulman Brigham, presented on the use of GIS Story Maps in the Mississippi River Water Journey Camps at the ESRI Education User Conference in San Diego, CA on July 8th, 2017. This is a conference for educators engaging youth with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to share methods and ideas. Presentation at this conference was made possible by camps partner U-Spatial.

Jonee highlighted several ways the use of GIS Story maps enhanced the camps and served as part of the design of the experience.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sustainability Education News Blog Post

 A Sustainability Education News blog post by Andreas Fenner, who also participated on the Water Journey Camps team, provides a lively summary of what just happened in June across the two weeks of camps.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rain Week: Day 5

One of the campers planting Joe Pye Weed

Photo courtesy of Jaraide Dossavi

The final day of Rain Week took place in the Sarita Wetland once again, however, this time the campers had a mission to plant native Minnesota plants. There were a variety of plants: Great Blue Lobelia, Joe Pye Weed, Swamp Milkweed, Showy Goldenrod, and Bottlebrush Sage. While planting, a few animals were spotted: geese, ducks, turtles, dragonflies, and a ladybug.
Also, there were some hardy roots to break through, which was a challenge, but it’s great to know that the campers played a role in making the wetland a better place.
Sidewalk chalk aimed at informing the public

Photo courtesy of Andreas Fenner

After the planting, the campers went to the storm drain that started their water journey and drew the Mississippi River, fish, and other wildlife with chalk. A few curious pedestrians stopped by and the campers zealously informed them about the importance of water protection. In the closing moments of Rain Week the campers received their Water Journey necklaces. We hope to see everyone next year!

The AM campers!

Photo courtesy of Jaraide Dossavi

The PM campers!

Photo courtesy of Nishtha Singla
Written by Andreas Fenner

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain Week: Day 4

photo courtesy of Jaraide Dossavi

A dreary and stormy morning delayed the campers from planting native plants in the Sarita Wetland, so instead they headed inside for water testing. A few different things were tested: dissolved oxygen levels, pH, as well as turbidity. The campers saw different results depending on where they got their water from, the most notable difference being before and after traveling through the wetland. When the water leaves Sarita, it has a slightly lowered turbidity and a more neutral pH than when it came in. This testing taught campers that water quality can change throughout its journey, especially after the positive filtering effects of a wetland.

Photo courtesy of Jaraide Dossavi

Additionally, the campers participated in a map art activity. Using watercolors, they painted the pipes that led to the Sarita wetland also including animal and plant life on top, which are crucial elements in helping the Sarita do its job.
As a memento to the journeys of water, as well as the experiences of camp, the campers crafted necklaces with a vial containing water from the beginning (the downspout) of its journey to the end (Crosby State Park), all tied together with their beaded initials.
Two necklace mementos that contain a piece of the Mississippi for campers to carry with them wherever they go

Photo courtesy of Kit Mercer-Taylor

Written by Andreas Fenner

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rain Week: Day 3

A few campers standing in front of the outfall
— where the storm drains meet the Mississippi

Day three of Rain Week started on the Mississippi River, where the campers were able to see the outfall, also known as the point where storm drains meet the river. Each camper took turns ceremonially using the watering can to pour rain water into outfall. Karen Katz, from the National Parks Service, educated us on the Mississippi watershed. Afterwards, Karen met the rest of us at Crosby Farm Park, which has its shores on the Mississippi, for lunch. The campers learned about the flood plains that surrounded us and the effects rising water has on the ecosystem, such as otters making dens out of Cottonwood tree roots.

Campers taking a relaxing break down by the shore

We took a short hike through the woods to the river, not only to look for otters, but to also enjoy the sunshine on the beach! The campers were very excited to see how many skips they could get from throwing smooth rocks, as well as pointing out the falcons, eagles, and herons (with the assistance of Karen) that flew above the trees. Before we boarded the bus back to home-base, Karen led the campers through an oath, which signaled their transition from ordinary campers to junior rangers, complete with a shiny badge!

Written by Andreas Fenner

A very old tree found on our walk to the water.
Equal to five kids worth!!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rain Week: Day 2

Map of locations used for campers scavenger hunt .

Oyster Mushroom
Photo courtesy of Jonee Brigham
Today campers were sent on a scavenger hunt to answer a variety of questions pertaining to different sites on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. Splitting up into groups, campers visited the Mycology Club Site to find the three edible type of mushrooms growing in the forest: Oysters, Shiitake, Lion’s Mane. Across the field to the Native American Medicine Garden, campers learned the importance of Akita Manni Yo (ah-kee-dah mahn-nee yo) which is a Lakota phrase that translates to “observe as you go”. Campers were urged to observe in the garden with their eyes, touch, and even taste buds (there was fresh lettuce growing)! Moving onto the Display and Trial Gardens, campers searched for edible plants and successfully found Stevia -a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant.

Campers posing with a wild onion stalk.
Photo courtesy of Jonee Brigham
Campers get a look at the overflow drain

Photo courtesy of Jonee Brigham
After a peaceful lunch in the shade at Cornercopia, the student organic farm, where we were able to taste some of the onions growing and met Farmer Alexa who explained what goes on at an organic farm as well as giving a tour of the fruit tree garden. Campers made their way to the Buford Avenue storm drain where they met Lauren Wimler, a civil engineer from the University of Minnesota. She talked about the many pipes underground that carry storm water, and led us down a path to a manhole that we were able to peer in, thanks to U of M plumbers Troy and Sean. Following the pipes above ground, we found ourselves at the Sarita Wetlands, where the water is let out. Even though the water did not look the cleanest, it was still fascinating to see the journey water takes from cloud to wetland. We can’t wait until tomorrow when we visit downstream!