Even though we’re deep into winter, it’s almost time to register for summer camp programs at the Evanston Ecology Center.

Registration begins Friday, Feb. 3. Senior Environmental Educator Claire Alden says many of the programs fill up quickly and parents need to make their plans and act on them now.

Anden says programs for the youngest children tend to fill up fastest. “We had a record number of children signed up for our camps in 2011, and we expect just as many, if not more,” in 2012.”

The Ecology Center’s camps combine exploring and learning with fun, engaging opportunities for camp members and help build interest in scientific subjects.

The programs are divided into seven different age groups, ranging from press school to grade nine. 

Wildflower Camp for children aged three to four is designed to develop small and large motor skills, creativity and imagination while exploring basic elements of science and the joys of nature.

It is divided into four two-week sessions, meets Monday through Thursday, and covers themes ranging from learning what it’s like to be different animals to discovering how plants and animals adapt to different types of water environments.

For children entering kindergarten, Kinglet Camp combines games, arts and crafts, “travel days,” beach days and special guests to help campers discover the natural beauty and diversity of America.

Each of the four two-week sessions examines the history and beauty of an iconic American natural site, including Yellowstone National Park, the Sonoran Desert, Arctic Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands.

One of the Ecology Center’s most popular camps is EcoExplorer Day Camp for 10- and 11-year-olds.  Each of the two four-week sessions includes field trips, beach days, theme days, and an overnight experience.

During the third week of each session, campers experience an adventure-filled 3-day, 2-night camping trip to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin.

A special four-week long Ecology Counselor in Training Camp for children aged 12 to 14 teaches leadership, problem solving, and teamwork, combined with actual experience working with younger campers.

Registration forms are available online from the Evanston Environmental Association. Parents may receive a “resident’s discount” by showing proof of residency, and an additional discount by joining the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and signing up for a family membership.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 20, parents may register and pay for camps by visitng the ecology center at 2024 McCormick Blvd. or calling the center at 847-448-8256 or by visiting the Civic Center or any Evanston community center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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