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by Ashley Gesner, Lloyd Center Education/Outreach Specialist

With careful planning and consideration, the decision had been made. Of course, there were nerves at first, the pandemic created a new situation and there was a level of uncertainty. However, there was also excitement! Our summer programs are loved among staff, but how could we run it the same way; what would need to change? Seven weeks later, just like a typical summer, the time flew by and all the week long programs have been completed. We did it! Another successful summer at the Lloyd Center!

From the outside, the summer programs looked a little different. Our patio and green spaces had been transformed into an outdoor classroom and students were separated by the appropriate distance. This however, this did not stop them socially, they still had lots of fun, and explored their surroundings. Students wore masks, and there were extra-long lines at the hand-washing station. Even before entering the outdoor classroom, students received a health screening and temperature check at our new check-in station. These procedures were all a part of the Lloyd Center’s new health and safety policy. With our new cleaning practices at hand, we were equipped with the right tools to keep the students safe while having fun learning. All these things allowed us to do what we love – teach!

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Although the appearance may have changed, our summer programs did not. Once again, our 82-acres of oak/hickory forest, with freshwater wetlands, saltmarsh, and estuary, were awakened by the joyous sounds of students. Students explored, discovered and cheered the moments of learning while at the same time, making connections with the environment around them. Our summer programs engaged students in nature and science-themed lessons, adventures, and hands-on activities. With a little silliness mixed in, students became creative with free time play.

The Center offered two programs based on grade level. Young Naturalist is designed for students aged six to eight, and our variety of Coastal Studies programs are geared to students aged eight to twelve. Even though our health and safety policy limited the number of students per pod, our summer programs were well attended, with 35 students registered among the two programs, with many students participating in multiple weeks.

Now, more than ever, we were very fortunate to be able to provide the opportunity of outdoor environmental education – to give students an outlet to learn, grow, and become active members of our environment.

Another successful summer at the Lloyd Center – due to the outpouring and endless support from community members who believe in the Center, the importance of our programs, and our dedicated team of educators – we are truly grateful and look forward to incorporating what we gained this summer into future programs.