The Science Zone’s WYld Experiences outdoor adventure camp showcases the state’s natural beauty
Submitted by Enbridge Inc.
Science is cool anywhere, but nothing beats science outside of the classroom.
“We know by and large that kids just aren’t getting outside enough,” says Colleen Burridge, AmeriCorps director at The Science Zone, which promotes informal science education across the state of Wyoming.
“It’s more than just pushing their comfort level of being in the outdoors—we’re teaching them life lessons of pushing past limits of what they originally thought they could do.”
The Science Zone’s WYld Experiences outdoor adventure education program was established in 2020, when the Science Zone took its planned summer programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand from parents stuck, which was to “just get kids outside.”
The program has flourished since, covering everything from rock climbing to backpacking to kayaking.
“The kids love it. We load kids up on Monday mornings, take them to the Big Horns, the Wind Rivers or the Snowy Range for five days, and then bring them back all smelly and dirty on Friday afternoon,” says Burridge, who’s also the WYld Experiences program lead.
“We truly try to make this an accessible experience for all kids. If they don’t have an appropriate sleeping bag or tent or other supplies, we help them get outfitted with what they need. We also provide scholarships so that finances are not a barrier for participation,” adds Burridge.
Safety is the organization’s highest priority, notes Burridge. Numerous staff members are certified in wilderness first aid, and experienced guiding services are hired for activities like rock climbing.
The Science Zone, based in Casper, WY, runs an interactive science center focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) programming and exhibits. The organization enjoys a longstanding partnership with AmeriCorps, which supports the educational mission of The Science Zone and helps to staff programs and lower cost barriers for families.
Enbridge is committed to creating vibrant and sustainable communities near our operations, and we continued our support of The Science Zone this year with a $5,000 Fueling Futures grant to support the adventure camp programming—specifically targeted at purchase of equipment, such as a high-capacity mountain bike and cargo trailer for transportation purposes.
“I’ve been working with kids for almost 40 years, and one of the things that I still hear from many former students is how much they loved the times they got to learn outside,” says Burridge. “Whether it was taking students to Yellowstone or taking students up Casper Mountain, those continue to be some of their most memorable experiences.”
Enbridge is proud to have a history of supporting the Science Zone. During the pandemic, the museum set up an online classroom to ensure kids weren’t without science for long and could still enjoy it in the comfort of their home.
When it comes to camp options, there truly is something for every kid at The Science Zone. In addition to its WYld Experiences programming, the organization offers a wide variety of camps for ages 5 through 15.
“Kids are all at different stages of being comfortable both in nature and away from home,” says Burridge. “We learned early on that it can be a big ask of an 11- or 12-year-old to keep track of their belongings and be okay with being away from home for that long.”
Those who might not be ready for a five-day trek away from home might find something like the single overnight camping trips up to Casper Mountain more up their alley. Of course, Burridge and her colleagues’ hope is that kids will eventually sign up for the four-night trip.
“If we get them to learn how to identify types of bugs and grass, that’s great,” she remarks. “But what we really want, as we look to this future generation of young people, is to provide opportunities for them to fall in love with the state of Wyoming and what gives it its beauty.
“In doing so, we believe we are also playing an important role in cultivating a desire to protect the special place that we call home.”
At Enbridge, our name spells out our mission: a bridge to a sustainable energy future. That bridge safely connects millions of people around the world to the energy they rely on every day, fueling quality of life. Whether it’s natural gas, oil or renewable power, the energy we deliver through networks spanning North America and our growing European offshore wind portfolio helps to heat homes, feed families, fuel vehicles and power industry. We’re investing in modern energy infrastructure to sustain access to secure, affordable energy. We’re also building on two decades of experience in renewable energy to advance new low-carbon energy technologies including hydrogen, renewable natural gas and carbon capture and storage. We’re committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the energy we deliver, and to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
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