For Emma Paulson, science and math have always been her strongest subjects in school. From problem-solving to gathering an impressive collection of rocks and crystals, she knew she had found her passion.
So when she found out that she would be attending a program at Dunes Learning Center, she was ecstatic.
“I was so excited when I found out about the trip,” Paulson said. “When I saw that we would be learning about the history of ecology of the dunes, it made me even more happy!”
Paulson, along with her fellow fourth-grade classmates, was set to attend a three-day, two-night program at the camp. The program, entitled Frog in the Bog, would take the students out of classroom and into the national park.
Much like Paulson’s group, classes in grades four through six who participate in Frog in the Bog have a similar experience. Students are taken on a series of guided hikes through the national park and learn about diverse ecosystems and history through guided tours of the surrounding area.
“During one of our hikes we got to go off and sit on our own for a few minutes,” said Paulson. “It was so quiet and I could really take my time and look at every lead, plant and rock. That is one of my favorite memories.”
Paulson, now in seventh grade, attributes her love of science to the program and specifically the memory.
“Whenever I’m in science class, I like to make connection to what we’re talking about to what I learned during the program,” Paulson said. “I’m really interested in science now, and I think it’s because I had a positive experience at the camp.”
Paulson’s mother, Karen Paulson, praised Dunes Learning Center for their work.
“Both my daughters attended the same program at the camp,” Paulson said. “It’s amazing how much of an impact they have on students’ lives. You could tell how much the program influenced Emma. It was all she talked about for weeks.”
Other students who have participated in programs at Dunes Learning Center have similar experiences to Paulson.
“A lot of our students end up coming back,” Marketing and Development Director Heather Hahn Sullivan said. “Some of our current naturalist interns were campers here when they were younger! It’s great getting to see the impact we make on their lives.”
Frog in the Bog is one of Dunes Learning Center’s most popular school-year programs. In April, the camp received funding to adapt one of the programs, entitled A Walk Through Time, into a day-long program, giving more students the unique learning opportunity Paulson experienced.
Dunes Learning Center is the nonprofit education partner of the Indiana Dunes National Park. They offer environmental education programs that inspire lasting curiosity and stewardship with nature. For more information on Frog in the Bog and other programs, visit http://duneslearningcenter.orgor call 219-395-9555.