Bowers School Farm offers summer programs

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 29, 2017

 The Bowers School Farm summer camps provide children with the opportunity to get hands-on with farming and interact with a variety of farm animals.

The Bowers School Farm summer camps provide children with the opportunity to get hands-on with farming and interact with a variety of farm animals.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS — The Bowers School Farm, in Bloomfield Hills, is inviting local children to take part in its summer camp programs, aimed at educating kids about animals and agriculture in a fun and engaging way.

The camps will take kids around the farm and teach them about animals and animal care, growing and harvesting plants, and how a farm works through a variety of hands-on projects and activities.

Animal Camp will run July 10-15, and Animal and Nature Camp will run July 17-21. Each runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and is designed for children ages 6-11. Sessions of Barnyard Buddies — geared toward 3- to 5-year-olds — are two-day programs that will run June 26-27, July 10-11, July 17-18 and Aug. 14-15.

The cost is $75 for each Barnyard Buddies program and $300 each for the two sessions aimed at older students.

“We’re going to be running two one-week sessions, one of which will be animal themed and one of which will be animal and nature themed,” explained Summer Camp Co-Director Michelle Golembieski. “All the activities the kids will do will be very hands-on and geared toward education. We’ll be talking about a lot of the different aspects of agriculture.”

The farm has been owned by the school district since 1966, but it has operated as a farm for more than a century.

Golembieski went into detail about the camps for the older children.

“Each day they will spend time in our diversified vegetable garden, and then they’ll come inside and make a snack from what they harvested,” she said. “Plus, we’ll talk about healthy eating and local food. They’ll also interact with the animals and get to join activities, like loading up the pack for our llama and then taking it for a hike and a picnic.”

Cardin described the Barnyard Buddies camps as similar to those for the older children, but as being more of an introductory course, given their young ages.

“This is our second year for Barnyard Buddies, and we have four themes for each of our four weeks,” she said. “There’s ‘Five Sense Farm Fun,’ which is a hands-on farming theme where the kids will experience the farm using all five senses, learning how things feel or smell. ‘Little Sprouts’ will focus more on gardening and seeing how growing food works. ‘Farm on Foot’ will feature more exploration of the farm and give them the chance to see parts of the farm they might not see otherwise, like the pond or the woods. ‘Barnyard Fun’ is an umbrella and will cover a little bit of everything while learning about how the farm works.”

The farm administrators said the key is making the kids feel like part of the farm and having them join in on everything they are watching. The questions the kids ask during the camps can shape the way they learn.

“We’re doing work, but disguising it as fun,” laughed the farm’s education leader, Allen Jaros. “It also gets them to eat healthy foods they might have avoided or never tried otherwise.”

Given the rarity of farming and agriculture in modern education, the camp administrators described the programs as a unique way to show students topics they otherwise might not have access to.

“It all serves as an introduction to farm animals and the products we grow here in a friendly, hands-on atmosphere,” remarked Cardin. “Anytime you can get them to a place that’s different than their everyday experience can have such an impact on kids. This can be a unique experience for these kids, because this is the only school district in the state that operates a farm like this.”

Golembieski said the potential benefits of the camp are numerous.

“The farm offers a real authentic opportunity to engage in a world that seems to be fading away,” she said. “We spend each day outside, rain or shine, and care for the animals and teach the kids responsibility.”

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