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Local camp helps kids connect with nature

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Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - A group of campers learn about gardening at the Crest at Willow-Witt on Tuesday afternoon.

What started out as a COVID-19 child care provider quickly turned into a safe haven for kids to spend time out in nature.

The Crest at Willow-Witt is a weeklong outdoor camp that allows Rogue Valley children to play with animals, go on hikes, build forts and play games out in the wilderness.

“With all of us spending so much time inside during COVID, we all discovered how important it was for our well being and mental health to spend time outside,” said Environmental Education Coordinator Laurel Cheevers. “They had to be isolated for so long that it’s not only connections to kids, but to the world around them.”

Campers get to work and play in a variety of environments.

They have the opportunity to work in the garden and taste vegetables and herbs, while getting to take home bags of fresh produce to their parents twice a week.

The Willow-Witt Ranch has hundreds of acres of land for the campers to explore and several kinds of animals for them to interact with including goats, ducks and chickens.

“I think seeing the kids interact with animals for the first time — it’s not something they get in their everyday lives, so having that opportunity to bring them into nature and see wildlife is really fun,” said counselor Tatijanna Winn.

Cheever said it is exciting to see the kids interacting with each other and learning more about nature.

Savannah Blake/Mail Tribune - Jaques Ressigeac, 6, pulls up a pile of lettuce while helping tend to the garden at Willow-Witt Ranch on Tuesday afternoon.