The campers had completed irrigating the flowers and had been returning their brightly colored watering cans to the kiddie-pool-sized water barrel when a rabbit bounded into view, zigged throughout the delicate earth and made a beeline for the shrubs.

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“There’s a bunny,” a number of children cried, earlier than giving chase. The bunny was not touched. It was a bit startled, however given full freedom to hop off. Counsellor Nomi Walsh, or “Worm” as she is thought at camp, instantly beginning asking the group questions on what the bunny regarded like and the place did the children assume it was going.

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Campers including Willow Schelter, 7, second from left, and Marcus Perez, 8, third from left, help to water the garden at Evergreen Adventure Camp at the Brick Works on Monday. Lessons on nature in the city is one of the key themes of the camp.
Campers together with Willow Schelter, 7, second from left, and Marcus Perez, 8, third from left, assist to water the backyard at Evergreen Journey Camp on the Brick Works on Monday. Classes on nature within the metropolis is likely one of the key themes of the camp.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)
Boots in the mudroom are always at the ready for the young campers.
Boots within the mudroom are all the time on the prepared for the younger campers.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)
From left, Marcus Perez, 8, Ruby Sims, 7, and Willow Schelter, 7, enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at Evergreen Adventure Camp.
From left, Marcus Perez, 8, Ruby Sims, 7, and Willow Schelter, 7, benefit from the sights and sounds of nature at Evergreen Journey Camp.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)
The kids use their feet in a fun game to pick teams.
The youngsters use their toes in a enjoyable recreation to choose groups.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)

“The rabbit was hiding in one of many bushes after which it climbed up and it was gray, white and the tail was black and white,” mentioned Marcus Perez, 8, recalling the motion for the Star instantly after the Monday morning encounter at Evergreen Brick Works, on Bayview Ave. The bunny was additionally brown in components, he defined.

“And it began operating into the bushes over there and up into the tree. So whenever you come near it, it begins operating away from you,” Marcus mentioned.

Marcus, or “Timberwolf” as he’s referred to as at camp, is in his third yr at Evergreen Journey Camp. Everyone, from children to counsellors picks nature names. Marcus loves wolves so Timberwolf was an apparent match.

The weeklong camp has been operating for 9 years, is open for teenagers as younger as 6 and youth as much as 15 and is held each weekday from 8:30 a.m. to five:30 p.m. About 120 campers attend every week, together with girls and boys sponsored by means of the Star’s Recent Air Fund.

“Ideally they wouldn’t have chased the bunny, nevertheless it’s good that they noticed it,” mentioned counsellor Walsh, who deliberate to analysis the rabbit throughout lunch hour, hopefully discovering some books with images so she might share extra along with her pack.

The times are filled with actions designed to get children away from their laptop screens and inflexible schedules and engaged with the pure world. Marcus’s group watered vegetation, performed a model of tag that concerned camouflaging within the bushes, had a snack, made time to rehydrate, utilized sunscreen and discovered to construct and safely gentle a campfire, all earlier than 10:30 a.m.

Cam Collyer, govt director of packages, mentioned they attempt to present children a way of journey, a connection to nature and to throw them off their schedules, immersing them in naturally and inherently wild or fluid experiences. The bunny breaking apart the morning actions, he agreed, was a great instance of issues going offside in a really optimistic course.

“We’re proper within the metropolis. We’re proper of their residence terrain. They’re discovering issues they will really return to,” mentioned Collyer, or “Moss.”

Mixing children from all corners of Toronto, of all backgrounds and ranges of revenue, creates a social range that’s reflective of the particular metropolis and gives a extra significant studying expertise for all concerned, he mentioned.

“It’s a very bodily program too, so children are lifting, holding and making, working with their palms. This system provides totally different children an opportunity to shine.”

One of many morning classes was learn how to safely gentle a campfire, led by Georgia Koumantaros, or “Sumac.” Everyone was instructed on constructing a fireplace, stacking kindling like a tiny log cabin, how fireplace wants oxygen, learn how to keep away from getting smoke in your eyes and ensuring you don’t get burned. The entire children obtained to gentle a picket match, tossing it in direction of the pile of wooden inside a deep pit, ringed by giant flat stones.

Among the many campers had been Ruby Sims and Willow Schelter, “Cardinal” and “Panda” respectively, each 7. The women had helped begin fires earlier than and agreed that efficiently lighting a match required urgent actually arduous.

“I pressed actually arduous my first time, nevertheless it didn’t actually work, so I did it once more and it was actually good,” mentioned Willow, who after her second swipe tossed her lit match excessive and a bit wild into the hearth pit.

Ruby’s first match ignited and he or she managed to throw it instantly on prime of the kindling, the place it caught. “I discovered you needed to push actually, actually arduous. However if you end up dropping it it’s a must to be fast,” she mentioned.

This was their second summer time at camp and their first yr being mates.

Each paid eager consideration to the dialogue round fireplace security, with Willow explaining quietly that if smoke will get in your eyes you should flip and calmly stroll away.

Ruby caught up her hand and responded to a query from her counsellor, explaining to the group why you shouldn’t sit on the sting of a hearth pit or get too near the flames.

“It might be actually sizzling,” she mentioned.

The Star’s Recent Air Fund has been elevating cash to ship children to summer time camp since 1901. The fund goals to boost $650,000 to ship 25,000 children to a variety of camps this summer time.

Emily Mathieu is a Toronto-based reporter masking reasonably priced and precarious housing. Observe her on Twitter: @emathieustar



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