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Bowers Farm Summer Camp: 4 Weeks of Farming Fun

As we close out our 4th year of Bowers Farm Summer Camp, our hearts swell with joy at the memories created over the past 4 weeks. Our camp hosted a total of 144 enthusiastic free range farm kids this summer, from 3K through 5th grade, each stepping into a realm of learning, laughter, and love for the farm and the environment.

A Journey of Inclusivity and Accomplishment

A camper hugging one of the staff

One of the most heartwarming aspects of this year's camp was our ability to provide accommodations for 6 campers with disabilities. Witnessing their full participation and engagement in all camp activities was not just inspiring; it was a testament to the power of inclusivity and support. Every child deserves a chance to explore, learn, and have fun, and at Bowers Farm, we strive to make that a reality for everyone. This is made possible by our scholarship fund. We're able to hire additional staff to serve as the appropriate accommodations for our campers with disabilities. These 'buddies' serve in a 1 on 1 capacity and allow all campers to be with their peers in their age appropriate groups. The power of inclusion is seen not only in our campers with disabilities but all the campers in their group, many of whom, for the first time, are getting to be around a child with a disability. Learning about farming isn't the only thing these children are learning.

More to come about our scholarship fund and ways you can get involved later this summer!

From Feathers to Fur: Exploring the Farm's Diversity

Throughout the week, our campers learn about many of the different animals on our farm. They learned about our chickens and our pigs on Monday of each week. We talked about the tools that these animals have and how they help them live and find food. For instance we talked about how a chicken's feet are similar to a rake and a pigs nose is similar to a shovel. On Tuesday, our campers had the joy of meeting our flerd, our flock of sheep and herd of cows that we graze together. It was so cool to see them meet Lambie, one of our bottle lambs who is now 4 1/2 years old. Wednesday is a little bit of a change of pace as we share our garden with the campers. We are a livestock farm, but we use Wednesday to share with

Campers playing a matching game
Check out those "Farmer" name tags

everyone about all the amazing farmers who grow crops. One of the coolest things is to show our campers what the plant looks like of some of their favorite vegetables. This year each week of camp, we got to show them a visitor who was making a home in our garden. Week 1 we discovered a bird had made a nest in our cucumber vines. Week 2 there were 2 eggs, by week 3 there were 4 eggs, and by week 4 two had hatched. The awe and amazement of kiddos getting to see up close a birds nest was remarkable. Imagine 12 squirmy 4 and 5 year olds standing still, waiting patiently and quietly to see this new discovery - it was incredible. On the fourth and final day of our camp week we talk about the ecosystem of the farm. One of my favorite things is that when the campers arrive Thursday morning, "Farmer" has been added to their name tags. They've worked hard throughout the week and learned so much and have earned the title. They are then all sent as farmers, to help care for the ecosystems around them!

No Farming Experience Necessary

One thing that is a joy for us is the diversity of background that all the campers come from. We have campers who come to camp that have grown up around farm animals and some have never stepped foot on a farm. Regardless of their background, we all have more we can learn from one another. It's fun to learn from our campers who may have animals we don't have, and it's of course great to share about all the animals we do have. Brandon and I try to always stand in the space that we are not the experts but rather are always in a place of student and have so much to learn.

Children learning about the grain bin or silo

A Call to Farming

Farm Camp has grown to be more than we ever could have imagined and we are already brainstorming on what camp will look like next year and how we can grow our reach. Our deepest hope and prayer for farm camp is to give all children a touch point to the world of agriculture and what it takes to put food on their plate. If people are never able to visit a farm, why in the world would we ever expect for them to respect the profession or advocate for agricultural land to stay in production? Probably second on our hope list is that a child comes to camp and discovers a desire to be a farmer when they grow up. It almost brings me to tears when I hear campers saying, "I want to be a farmer!"

If you've been around Bowers Farm for any length of time you know this is not a world I grew up around, but one I think is deeply important to share with everyone, especially kiddos. The pace at which farmland is leaving production and being turned into housing developments, the rising of the average age of farmers who will soon retire, the increase of manufactured food that we're surrounded by - in a lot of ways the future of ag doesn't seem hopeful. Now we never want to be seen as alarmist, but instead I hope Farm Camp is part of being the change we want to see. Frederick Buechner is quoted as saying, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet," and I think for me, that place is Farm Camp.



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