Rivercamp: Teaching kids to become environmental guardians in Orange County

California-based Rivercamp is a children’s environmental science camp providing kids the opportunity to connect with nature, splash around in the river, meet and greet some animal locals, and become environmental guardians.

Organised by Inland Empire Waterkeeper, Rivercamp is a hands-on science camp for children, aged between 5 and 12, which takes place at the Martha McLean Park in the City of Riverside, Orange County, California. The park is located at a section of the river, Santa Ana.

The Santa Ana River is an ancient river, sacred to indigenous Native Americans who once lived along its expanse. Hundreds of species of animals and plants characterise the Santa Ana River’s diversity of climates and vegetation zones. Yet this 110-mile waterway, which crosses four counties in California, has become heavily polluted over the years as a result of urbanisation.

Rivercamp is unique in many ways. One of which is, the area where summer camp takes place was where creeks and streams once were too full of trash and toxins for anyone to swim or play. Inland Empire Waterkeeper, a non-profit organisation, were instrumental in restoring these waters and protecting them from pollution, thanks to river clean up efforts.

The Santa Ana River, which is a riparian forest with great white egrets and blue heron, is home to an endangered species that lives nowhere else in the world.

Preservation of the River and its surrounding areas is crucial to those who live around the watershed areas.

Rivercamp provides children with lifelong skills on how to better care for their environment, whilst having fun in the outdoors and meeting some of the local wildlife.

Kids at Rivercamp get to participate in fun experiments like inspecting water under microscopes, collecting aquatic insects, and testing water quality.

The camp also teaches kids the importance of recycling and reusing. Inland Empire Waterkeeper will be hosting two camps this summer: 26-30 June and 10-14 July.

Approximately 69% of the cities/communities within the watershed area of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are considered “disadvantaged” or contain disadvantaged communities.

Rivercamp also offers the opportunity for “disadvantaged” children to be sponsored to attend the summer camp. For every child who pays to attend camp, Waterkeeper matches that with a donation to send a child from an “underserved” community to Rivercamp for free.

Megan Brousseau, Associate Director of Inland Empire Waterkeeper, says: “We release our kids with no tools on how to care for this earth. The river is an outdoor education space that is free to 10 schools within walking distance.

“Most of these communities have little access to parks or open space. Waterkeeper focuses work in these communities in order to establish safe outdoor recreation, hands-on environmental education, public engagement, and long-term preservation of the Santa Ana River and its tributaries.”

For more information about Rivercamp, visit Inland Empire Waterkeeper

Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable life & style, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com


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