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August 2, 2012
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Young campers in pursuit of perfect bug

Eyes narrowed and net aloft, Sam Stafford, 6, crept in for the catch as his nine fellow campers prowled the rest of the meadow at the Bijou Community Park on Tuesday.

The bug hunt was part of the Tahoe Institiute of Natural Science's four-day Junior Entomologists camp that took campers ages 6 to 8 years old thoughout the South Shore in pursuit of insects and bug knowledge.

The children arrived at the park at 9 a.m. and, after a series of morning games, the campers headed into the grasshopper-filed field armed with nets, magnifying glasses and steely-eyed determination.

It's a camp that Kirk Hardie, director of science education at TINS, hopes will help develop natural stewardship in the chidren. There aren't enough nature camps in the Lake Tahoe Basin in which campers can both spend time in and learn about the outdoors, he said.

The educational aspect was part of what attrached Cheryl Orr to the camp. She enrolled her son Evan, 7, in the program and, after a day in Van Sickle Bi-State park, he came home talking about bugs she'd never heard of, Orr said.

"I want to take advantage of the outdoor opportunities, especially ones where you can learn something," she said.

Sam said his favorite part was spending the time outside, but he was also in pursuit of one particular bug.

"I like to be outside and I'm waiting to find a bug with a pincher," Sam said.

For many of the other campers, the hunt was fun, but they liked the release the best, Hardie said. And the size and shape of the bug didn't matter as much as the thrill of the catch.

"I'm learning a lot, too. They get excited with even the tiniest of bugs. It seems like they get a lot from being outside and learning from Kirk," said Miki Wapple, a seasonal staff member with TINS.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Aug 2, 2012 07:15PM Published Aug 2, 2012 06:45PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.