/ Modified dec 24, 2012 1:59 p.m.

Youth Wilderness Camp for Winter Break

Saguaro National Park allows kids to learn in nature's classroom

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Winter's school break in Tucson presents an opportunity for students to continue learning — outside the classroom.

Saguaro National Park will hold a Wilderness Exploration Camp Thursday through Saturday. Students who attend get to explore the park, said Chip Littlefield, a park ranger at Saguaro National Park.

“We have 24,000 acres, as far as you can hike, as far as you can amble," Littlefield said. "But not only do we explore, we also set up tents, we set up tarps for shelter, the kids learn the ability to cook on back-country stoves."

The students go home at the end of each day, and it's not all about hiking and camping, said John Duncan, a former middle school teacher who volunteers at Saguaro park and works with the Wilderness Exploration program.

”There are times when we do some artwork, there are times when we track tortoises, there are times when we measure Saguaros," Duncan said. "There’s other things that we do incorporate."

The learning experience changes every time the camp is held, said Littlefield.

“We don’t actually address it from a curriculum point of view, but when there’s something neat to explore, all the educators have the knowledge that we can talk about the excitement of finding a dead deer carcass for example," he said.

Space is limited, so for those who can't make the winter break, the park is taking reservations for a similar camp that will be held during schools’ rodeo break in late February.

For questions about either session, contact Chip Littlefield at 520 733-5157 or chip_littlefield@nps.gov.

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