BLUE MOUNDS — A visit to the Cave of the Mounds — likely a favorite field trip for many schoolchildren — is an everyday activity for kids taking part in Camp Brigham there.
The daily cave experience is true of any of the eight week-long camps, which have themes such as “Wild Safari” and “Life in the Past.” However, the cave visits were particularly meaningful for last week’s geology-based camp, GeoJourney. It’s one of the more popular camps because it is at the core of the experience of Cave of the Mounds, said Kim Anderson, operations manager.
“The cave has many more surprises than you learn on a normal cave tour,” said Gabe Pitzen, 10, a GeoJourney camper who will be a fifth-grader at Chavez Elementary School. “I like that we get to go into the cave every day and there’s different activities every day.”
Margaux Bress, 12, who will be a seventh-grader at Hamilton Middle School, said she also enjoyed the trips into the cave and its constant 50-degree temperature.
“It’s actually not as cold as people say,” said Margaux, who attended the camp with her brother, Ian, 9.
Camp Brigham combines theme-based activities with traditional camp experiences. Children age 5 to 7 can attend for a half-day, and children 8 to 12 can attend for a half-day or full day. It costs $160 a week for the half-day camp and $240 for the full day.
New this year is a shuttle bus that stops in Madison, Verona and Mount Horeb for an extra $60 a week. Anderson said if there is interest, the number of stops will increase next year.
Claudia Anderson, 12, who will be a seventh-grader at Verona’s Savanna Oaks Middle School in Fitchburg, said she liked GeoJourney’s daily themes that included gemstones and geodes.
Activities at GeoJourney included sluicing, in which the kids placed a tray of rocks, minerals and fossils in water to separate them from the dirt and sand. They also used a hammer and chisel to uncover a fossil that was wrapped in a sand and glue mixture.
When the campers got a chance to play in mud, Soren Espe, 10, who will be a fifth-grader at Mount Horeb Intermediate Center, got the full experience by taking a belly flop in it.
Besides exploring the cave, the campers hike on the rest of the grounds at the National Natural Landmark.
“We try to be outside a lot because we have such a variety of ecosystems here,” Anderson said. “We want kids to leave here thinking this place and all nature needs to be protected.”