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DECATUR -- Five-year-old Sophia Ashe didn't have to do much to prepare for camp at Rock Springs Nature Center.

“I went to bed and woke up,” she said. “I didn't have to do anything but brush my hair and put my boots on.”

The Parsons School kindergartner attended the Pajama Party Mini Camp at the center Wednesday afternoon along with other campers and their families. Mini camp head counselor Jenny Garver designed a curriculum incorporating the winter weather with the animals' survival. “And the pajamas play in with that,” she said.

The children, ages 1 to 5, participated in crafts, songs and activities about some of the wild animals living in the area. During snack time, they ate a popular breakfast cereal.

“A lot of animals like Cheerios anyway,” Garver said.

According to Jeff Tish, program services manager for the Macon County Conservation District, the mini camp is popular with the children.

“The kids learn about the animals and what they are doing this time of year in order to survive the winter,” he said.

Tish explained why animals hibernate or fly south for the winter. Although the temperature may be cold, that doesn't hurt the animals.

“It is because their food sources are not as available,” Tish said.

The children learned not all animals eat the same type of food. Many animals will eat meat.

“So they might eat a rabbit, mouse or a squirrel,” Garver said to the children.

“Or a meatball,” said 5-year-old, Brody Britton.

The children were given the opportunity to compare a stuffed animal and the real fur of the same animal.

“The stuffed animal's fur was kind of hard and the real fur was soft,” Sophia said.

George Hansbrough has brought his great-granddaughter to the Rock Springs Nature Center's mini camps in the past.

“They do a lot of different things with the kids,” he said.

Although the pajama party children stayed indoors during Wednesday's camp, the counselors and the children have taken hikes through the woods during previous events. The groups will study trees, animals and tracks.

“Sometimes she knows them better than I do,” Hansbrough said of his great-granddaughter.

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"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.