By Sally O’Byrne, Teacher Naturalist
In early August, Delaware Nature Society had a week long camp for 9 – 12 year olds called Kayak Fun and Games. We spent the first two days getting acquainted with each other and with our kayaks at Lums Pond and the Octoraro Reservoir. We practiced kayaking backwards and in circles and playing squirt gun tag. We got good enough to do a synchronized kayak ballet going around bridge supports, which unfortunately I did not video for YouTube fame.
On Wednesday, storms were threatening, but we made it to Dragon Run, near Delaware City to explore an impounded fresh water marsh. We blazed our way through the vegetation near the end and discovered a fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata), which I have never seen there in the past.
Fearful that the predicted storms would create flooded conditions on the Brandywine Creek the next day, we went to a private farm on the Chesapeake instead. We kayaked around the point at Veasey Cove to a cliff on the Elk River, where we discovered colored clay that could be hand dug. The kids created all sorts of creatures and became all sorts of creatures after painting themselves with the clay!
Coming back to the sandy beach in Veasey Cove, we found this amazing caterpillar, (which I am trying to ID – can’t find it in my book, so have sent off to an entomologist friend) as well as many bald eagles. We had two mature eagles in a tree and three flying overhead at the same time.
Our last day was spent on the tidal Christina River. We paddled against the tide for 1 & 1/2 hours and then spent far less time being carried back with the tidal flow. This part of the Christina is a secret treasure. As we kayaked through a wilderness with nesting barn swallows, turtles, wild rice and spatterdock, and with Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonflies flying around us, we heard the sounds of ice cream trucks and civilization beyond the trees. It was a nice reminder of what can be found in our own back yards.