4-H2O took fifteen youth on an exploration of their watershed during the 2011 water quality summer camp hosted by the Plum Branch Yacht Club. Throughout this four-day camp, youth learned all about the importance of protecting their waterways through a variety of hands-on learning activities. On the first day, campers learned all about watersheds or the area of land that all the water on it and under it drains to the same point. They learned how forests protect their watershed and took a hike down to Steven’s Creek where they tested the water quality in the stream. The youth also learned about ways to have fun in their watershed by fishing in a local pond.
The second day, the youth went to Turkey Creek and learned how to test water quality by collecting Macro-invertebrates. The youth flipped over rocks and used their d-nets to collect as many aquatic macro-invertebrates as they could. Once they had their buckets full of aquatic insects, they went back to the pavilion at the Plum Branch Yacht Club to learn all about what they caught. The campers got to view their findings on TV through the use of a video microscope. Campers learned that certain macro-invertebrates, like mayfly larva, only survive in good water quality while others, like leeches, can survive in poor water quality or polluted waters. By counting the number of insects collected that preferred good, medium and poor water quality they were able to determine that the water quality in the part of the stream that they collected from was pretty good.
On the third day of camp, youth were able to explore Lake Thurmond by turning pontoon boats into floating classrooms. After a boating safety talk by SC DNR Officers Mr. Cutter and Mr. Bridges, the youth went out on the lake to test the water quality. The campers collected water samples and tested them for dissolved oxygen, nitrates, phosphates and pH. They also used deep water samplers to collect samples from the bottom of the lake and tested them for the same things. Once all the samples were collected and tests completed, the campers used plankton nets to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton which are microscopic plants and animals. After the plankton were collected, we headed back to the pavilion to look at our results.
The last day of camp, youth had the opportunity to canoe and kayak at Baker Creek State Park. After paddling the morning away, the youth tested the knowledge they gained throughout the week by playing 4-H2O Jeopardy.
During this camp we had a lot of help and assistance from several individuals and organizations. I would like to give a big Thanks to Plum Branch Yacht Club for hosting us, Mr. Wallace Wood for letting us use his pond, Mr. Rodney Cutter and Mr. Dan Bridges with SC DNR for teaching us boating safety, Mr. Tim Wines for donating use of his pontoon boat and the Little River Blueway for letting us use their kayaks to take the kids paddling. I would also like to thank McCormick Drive Inn, Subway, Plum Branch Yacht Club and Michelle’s Pizza for the donation of lunches that the campers all thoroughly enjoyed each day. Without all of the help and assistance from those listed and others this camp would not be possible.