The Great Outdoors: Local summer programs offer activities in nature

Photo courtesy of Quinta Mazatlán

Seeking to prevent the imminent and infamous “I’m bored” complaint, nature parks in the Rio Grande Valley are offering summer programs for children.

The Edinburg Science Wetlands & World Birding Center will be hosting Tots Nature Camps starting May 29. The three-day camp offers children ages 18 months to 4 years old the opportunity to learn about nature and explore the outdoors with a guardian. Participation is $10 for members and $14 for non-members. The deadline for registration is May 22.

For older children who are artistically inclined, the center will offer the Naturally Creative Camp for students between the ages of 5 to 7. Starting July 16, the three-day program will teach participants how to have fun in nature – children will learn how to build forts, paint with mud and other activities that are designed to get them critically thinking and their hands dirty. The fee for the camp is $28 for members and $32 for non-members. The deadline for registration is July 9.

Another program that the center offers is Nature Photo Camp, which will be led by professional photographer, Ruth Hoyt. The five-day camp is open to children 9 to 13 years old starting on July 22. Here, participants will learn basic camera skills and learn how to tell a story through photography. The cost of attendance is $150, and the deadline for registration is July 15.

The center is also offering Aquanauts Nature Camp, a four-day program starting on July 30. The camp encourages students to explore the wetlands of the nature estate, and is open to children 8- to 12-years-old. Here, attendees will learn about what there is to know about water and aquatic life through hands-on activities. Participants will also have the opportunity to take a field trip to South Padre Island to learn about the coastal habitat there. The fee for the camp is $70 for Scenic Wetlands members and $78 for non-members. Registration is required by July 23.

Veronica Guzman, environmental education coordinator of the center, said that the priority in designing the programs was to get students to spend more time outdoors.

“Basically, what we want to do is get kids outside and in nature,” Guzman said. “Get them engaged in outdoor activities — to have fun and learning about the wildlife around us at the same time.”

Quinta Mazatlán will also be offering events for children to participate in during the summer. Enrichment programs for all ages throughout the summer include Nature Discovery Camps. Registration is $30 for McAllen residents and $40 for non-McAllen residents at mcallenparks.net or at 600 Sunset Drive.

Photo Fun Fridays offers an opportunity to learn nature photography. No pre-registration is required. Cost is $3 per person and $2 for ages 12 and under.

“It gives the children the opportunity to explore creativity,” said Kassandra Rodriguez, marketing and tourism supervisor at Quinta Mazatlán.

2019 Summer Nights at Quinta Mazatlán, held from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursdays from June 6 to Aug. 29, features guest speakers, theme nights, the annual Bubble Concert, a magic show and more. Cost is $3 per adult and $2 for children age 3 and older.

On Tuesdays, the center hosts Flashlight Nights, where students of all ages are invited to learn about night creatures such as scorpions, spiders and snakes. Starting at 7:30 p.m., the event is by reservation only. There is a $3 fee.

Additionally, Quinta Mazatlán will host Nature Tots, a weekly event that engages preschool children with hands-on, nature- inspired lessons through songs, movement and exploration. The event takes place every Saturday at 10 a.m., and is open to children 3- to 5-years-old for $3 a person.