Learning at twilight

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By Kirsten Laskey

The learning doesn’t have to stop just because the school year is completed. For instance, throughout this week, the schoolyard at Mountain Elementary School has been bustling with learning activity.

About 120 girls from Girl Scout service units 22 and 23 have been exploring water Monday through today during the Twilight Camp with the help of about 50 volunteers.

From blowing bubbles through tin soup cans to peering into a microscope to observe tiny life thriving in a drop of water from Ashley Pond, Girl Scouts learned just how many aspects there are to this natural element.

The Twilight Camp, which has been held for 16 years, has always featured a scientific theme, camp director Stephanie Mitchell said. Past themes included the sky and earth, and next year will feature ecology.

“It’s really good for girls to be exposed to science, especially in Los Alamos, because it’s a science community,” she said. “(It’s) good exposure. (The camp shows) that science can be fun.”

Participants are not only learning, but junior scouts are able to earn a water wonders badge while Brownies can earn a “water, water, everywhere try-it” badge, Mitchell said.

Unit leader Samantha Stutz said the camp started out as a Girl Scout gold award, which is the highest award in the organization. She added it was originally held at Ponderosa Campground. In 2000, the camp started moving around to different schools.

Stutz said the camp is a fun activity for Girl Scouts entering first through sixth grade.

“(They) get to do fun activities and meet new people,” she said.

Girl Scouts rotate to seven different stations, each feature a different hands-on activity that addresses water.

With different activities featured, everyone seems to have their own personal favorite. “I like the bubbles,” Ellie Oldham, 5, said.

Cassie Wadsack-Stewart, 6, agreed. “I’m enjoying the bubbles,” she said.

Amaya Martin, 8, favored other activities. “I’m pretty much enjoying lunch,” she said. However, “I liked the dry-ice experiment, too,” Martin added.

As Katy Stockton, 10, tested how many water droplets could stay on a penny during an activity about surface tension, she said the camp “makes you excited to learn things.”

She explained sometimes learning in a classroom can be kind of boring, but the camp made it fun.

In addition to the different stations, Madison Foley, 10, said the scouts learned new songs and skits.

Katie Haynes, 13, said she liked “everything ... I liked the water taste testing. It was cool.”

Bandelier National Monument Park Ranger Chris Judson, who volunteered at the camp, said the camp is an effective learning tool because it offers multiple ways to learn so participants “have a way to shine in all different circumstances.”