How fast does a bear run? How long can a turtle hold its breath? Which came first, the chicken or the dinosaur?
These questions and more were explored last week by 16 local youngsters as part of the Highlands Ranch Metro District’s annual nature camp. Each day of the five-day camp at Fly’n B Park was themed, filled with hands-on exploration and education.
The group opened the week with “Animal Awesomeness Day,” in which they studied the traits of various animals native to Colorado and then compared their own abilities to those animals, whether it was speed, strength or the ability to hold one’s breath for a really long time like a turtle.
The following day, the group was treated to a special visit from Doug DeCounter of Dinosaur Ridge in Morrison. DeCounter shared a variety of dinosaur bones and casts with the kids, while educating them on the local history of the prehistoric creatures.
“A little-known fact that many people don’t know is that the first triceratops remains were discovered right here in Denver in 1891,” DeCounter said. “Most of the dinosaur was found near 13th and Federal, near where the Broncos now play, but since the skull was found in Wyoming, Wyoming gets the credit.”
DeCounter put in perspective just how big some of the dinosaurs were as he had the kids stretch out a measuring tape 100 feet.
“I knew they were big, but I didn’t know they were that big,” said Trey Burns, 10, who called the camp the highlight of his summer.
Burns’ favorite day of the week was the July 10 fishing day. With seven years of experience under his belt with a reel and rod, he said his favorite person to go fishing with was his grandfather. He said he wished that there were more fish in the pond and that there were more laws in place so that people don’t disturb the wildlife.
The campers also got a visit from Douglas County Search and Rescue on July 11 — as team members led a course in wilderness survival — and a presentation from Wild Wings Environmental Education that featured live owls on July 12.
The camp, an annual affair, is held twice each summer for children ages 7-10.