Images from the Cranbrook History Centre’s Junior Paleontology camp, 2020. Courtesy Nathalie Lim Picard

Images from the Cranbrook History Centre’s Junior Paleontology camp, 2020. Courtesy Nathalie Lim Picard

History Centre’s Paleontology camp is back, and better than ever

Registration for new expanded jr. paleontology camp opens June 1 at the Cranbrook History Centre

The Cranbrook History Centre is taking its Junior Paleontology program to a new level this coming summer.

Since it’s outset in 2017, the Junior Paleontology has proven to be enormously popular with young fossil buffs and pre-history enthusiasts. But after taking feedback from parents, the History Centre has redesigned the program into something bigger and more comprehensive.

“We’ve extended it this year,” said Emily Russell, Museum Educator at the Cranbrook History Centre. “It used to be specifically like rock-breaking activities, with a few other things interjected. This year, it’s going to be more of a series, with a new topic each day.”

“What we saw last year was that parents were really excited about the activities, but they wanted more,” said Nathalie Lim Picard, Programming Co-ordinator at the Cranbrook History Centre. “The kids love rocks, they love fossils — their enthusiasm is so high. We wanted to provide for those parents who asked for even more paleontology, we wanted to find a way to get that into the kids’ summers. So we needed more staff to achieve this goal.”

The camps will be running in two four-week series — the first series on every Monday in July, and the second series on every Monday in August. Russell, who from a young age has been passionate about fossils and rocks, has been planning all the activities, expanding on what used to be a simple ‘come, break rocks, and take them home,’ to a whole world of experience with all these aspects, that all play an important part in how fossils are made, and how we need to respect the world in which we find them.”

Each series will cover one topic per day, with an emphasis on fun. These include:

Geology: Participants will learn about the rock cycle, and the difference between each type of rock, and what they can look for if they’re out hiking, for example, with their parents. They can take the knowledge gained from the camps and apply it to the real world.

Evolution and Extinction: Russell has a lot of plans for crafts and drawing projects, and ideas to get kids moving, to help them understand things like climate change, what happened to the dinosaurs — “More of a big picture idea.”

Fossils: Another category with a lots of hands-on — participants can see fossils from the History Centre’s own collection, and even make their own fossils.

Paleontology (study of the history of life on Earth as based on fossils): Participants will explore the science behind paleontology through games and activities, also incorporating the rock-breaking activities that have been so popular, and, as Russell says, start them on the path of collecting, and thinking about what they can do as paleontologists.

The first series of camps will take place July 5, 12, 19, and 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm. The second series takes place August 9, 16, 23 and 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm.

The camps are limited to 12 kids each day, ages six to 11, and will not be split into different age groups this year.

Registration for the Junior Paleontology program is going live on June 1, on the Cranbrook History Centre’s website — cranbrookhistorycentre.com.

“We know that we have a lot of kids in the region that are obsessed with rocks and fossils, and they just love getting out there and digging in the dirt,” Lim Picard said. “We also know that there aren’t many camps like this in the area. We want to be able to fill that niche, and provide to the community a really unique, educational but super-fun activity for young kids so they can get excited about learning in a hands-on, new way.”