Photo © Ian Coristine/
 You are here:  Back Issues      Archive

TILTKids Camp at Zenda

My sister, Smith, and I have been coming to the Thousand Islands since we were little, following the tradition of spending summers with family and friends on the St. Lawrence River. We vacation to Clayton to escape from the hot and busy city of Philadelphia and to enjoy the cool waters and breathtaking scenery of the Thousand Islands. Swimming, fishing and bonfires on the River have always been the highlights of my year, something to look forward to when school and sports seem endless. I have always been involved in helping to preserve the natural beauty of the area but soon felt limited in what I could do to make an impact in the community. 

Last year Smith interned at the Thousand Islands Land Trust (TILT). She would come home with the greatest stories of taking hikes on the trails, visiting the Preserves and learning about the region. After hearing about all of the valuable work she was doing, I couldn’t help but feel a little envious. I knew that by becoming part of the land trust I would be able to show my appreciation and love for the area through work I already enjoyed doing.

A large part of our roles as interns is helping Corinne Mockler, TILT’s Coordinator of Education and Outreach, with her popular KidsTreks which are part of the annual TILTreks & Talks series. A new addition, which we also helped plan, was the TILTKids Camp which happened at Zenda Farm Preserve during the last weekend of July. This year’s two-day camp encouraged kids to take a closer look at the plants, animals and insects that call Zenda Farm home, and then to learn how to document them in a variety of ways. Workshops were stationed around the preserve, and led by local experts to educate campers about a wide range of interests.

On Saturday, the kids rotated among six different workshop stations: Matt Regan, a grad-student from SUNY ESF, taught kids about “Seedbank Science” with plants taken from nearby French Creek; Vici and Steve Diehl led us in “Discovering Dragons, Damsels, Moths and Butterflies” (we even got the chance to put a LIVE dragonfly on our noses!); “What Makes a Forest” with Ecologist Anne Johnson and Forester Don Brown took the campers on a short hike in the Zenda woods, where they made many discoveries; Rolly Churchill from the Thousand Islands Emergency Rescue Squad (TIERS) taught “Basic Nature First Aid,” where we learned how to be prepared in the wild should you or someone else get injured; In the “Look Down! Songs from the Grass” workshop, Kim Farrell from the Onondaga Audubon Society showed us why various species rely on the fields of Zenda Farm Preserve for feeding and nesting; and with “Life in a Puddle,” Dr. John Farrell from the Thousand Islands Biological Station (TIBS) invited us to look closer at (and really get “hands on” with) the vital wetland habitats necessary for a thriving ecosystem.

On Sunday, the campers learned how to document their finds from the previous day. One station, titled "Pick a Veggie Take a Pic," local photographer, Sarah Ellen Smith showed the kids how photo opportunities surround them (even in the garden), and how best to take a “macro” photograph; The next station, "A Bug's Life... Through the Lens" with Vici & Steve Diehl, taught us how to successfully look for and capture bugs...through photography; In "Speedy Stories About Nature," author Hope Marston led campers in an exercise to quickly construct a story about their favorite things in nature; For the last station, artist Christin Bentley helped kids in "Creating Clay Treasure Boxes" imprinted with nature, to store nature in! 


Each workshop was intriguing and captivating - It was an effort to pull the campers away from each station each time we had to switch! Reinman’s donated great items for the campers’ goodie bags, while Subway of Clayton provided lunch on Saturday and The Scoop brought ice cream sandwiches on Sunday.

During the weekend, many of the parents and grandparents who accompanied their kids came to us with praise for the variety of workshops. The kids had a great time exploring Zenda and the parents were pleased with the quality of the event.

One of the moms shared her thoughts following TILTKids Camp: “Becoming TILT members was the best thing we did this summer - your events have been fabulous! Next year we will support at a higher level, now that we know more about the organization”


I enjoyed planning and being a part of the first ever TILTKids Camp. I look forward to staying involved with the Thousand Islands Land Trust for many summers to come!

TILTKids Membership

KidsTreks are free and open to the public while TILTKids Camp is available exclusively for TILTKids members. This new level of membership includes not only access to the camp, but an educational newsletter and website designed just for kids! If you’re interested in joining the Thousand Islands Land Trust as a TILTKids member, please contact the TILT office at 315-686-5345 or More information about TILTKids can be found at our website:




By Henney Hambrose, Thousand Islands Land Trust Intern 

Henney Hambrose is entering Grade 11, her junior year at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadephia, PA. She is a member of her school's crew team and enjoys photography, running, sailing and any activity that gets her out in nature. This is her first summer interning at the Thousand Islands Land Trust (along with her younger sister, Smith who joined the TILT team last year).

  • Forester Don Brown asks how many campers to hug a tree?

    Forester Don Brown asks how many campers to hug a tree?

  • Speed writing about nature

    Speed writing about nature

  • Hunting for meadow land bird's nests

    Hunting for meadow land bird's nests

  • The nets from Reinman's came in handy for catching this toad

    The nets from Reinman's came in handy for catching this toad

  • A happy camper demonstrates a rustic sling in Nature First-Aid

    A happy camper demonstrates a rustic sling in Nature First-Aid

  • TILTKids Campers strike a pose

    TILTKids Campers strike a pose


Posted in: Places, Nature, Event
Please feel free to leave comments about this article using the form below. Comments are moderated and we do not accept comments that contain links. As per our privacy policy, your email address will not be shared and is inaccessible even to us. For general comments, please email the editor.


Mary Jane Nash
Comment by: Mary Jane Nash ( )
Left at: 10:27 AM Thursday, August 15, 2013
Thank you so much for this wonderful and informative article. I am happy to know about TILTKIDS Camp and the opportunity it brings to kids to learn and appreciate the beautiful nature surrounding the Thousand Islands.
Olivia Lancaster
Comment by: Olivia Lancaster ( )
Left at: 1:10 PM Thursday, August 15, 2013
What a great way to teach future generations about the Thousand Island region. KidsTreks, TILTrek, and TILTkidscamp will instill knowledge, and love for the River for generations to come.
Wonderful article!!
Comment by: Hans
Left at: 8:50 AM Friday, August 16, 2013