Clark Brianna

Sarah Clark of Forsyth reacts as her daughter Brianna Clark, 1, gives a bobcat doll a vigorous hug as the stuffed animal is passed around while a naturalist talks about bobcats during the pajama party mini camp at Rock Springs Nature Center.

DECATUR—Five children ages ranging from 1 to 4 got to stay in their pajamas longer than usual on Tuesday as they sang songs, made crafts and pet animal fur.

The children adorned their fleece onesies as a part of a mini camp at Rock Springs Nature Center and learned about what happens to certain animals during the winter months.

“Animals wear pajamas, too, called fur,” said Jenny Garver, naturalist and coor-dinator of the mini camps.

While learning about which animals go through hibernation or stay awake during the winter, Garver passed around different furs for the children to feel, including a fox, coyote, bobcat, river otter, badger and deer.

Sarah Cummings, 4, of Moweaqua, compared the feel of the furs to her short-haired hunting dog Rosie, her favorite animal.

“They were just so soft,” she said while sporting pink Hello Kitty pajamas and slipper boots she got for Christmas.

The furs also had a positive effect on Suzanne Cummings, Sarah's grandmother, who used to bring furs from her conservation district to her students while teaching at Okaw Valley Elementary School in Bethany.

She said she enjoys attending the mini camps for the interplay between the chil-dren and the camp leaders, adding that they have participated in half a dozen of the mini camps in the last two years.

Brianna Clark, 1, of Forsyth paid special attention to a bobcat puppet, crawling off of her paw print seat on the carpet to get her hands on it.

In addition to petting furs and puppets of different regional animals, the children made a craft with construction paper of a badger sleeping in a hole in the ground. They used glue sticks to put the pieces together and had a jug of crayons available to doodle.

After making the badger-related craft, they were able to see a display with a taxidermy badger and feel a badger skull.

Two-year-old Lily Elsea, of Argenta pressed her hands and face against the dis-play glass to try to compare fingernail length with the badger.

“The children are explorers in their age; they are curious and fearless,” Garver said. “It is fun to see them understand something new, like a light bulb going off in their head.”

The children also got to interact with a living animal as naturalist Brenna Karcher brought a western hognose snake around for each child to see.

“They get to experience hands-on nature and get to see, feel and use their imagi-nation,” Garver said. “The best part of nature is that it's always changing, just like kids are.”

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