FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Northern Environmental Action Team is teaming up with local businesses on Thursday for Wildings Camp Day to raise money to allow sixty local kids to attend the camp.

Camp Wildlings is a child-led nature-based day camp that aims to promote curiosity, creativity, and environmental sustainability by exploring the Fish Creek Community Forest.

Susan McGarvey with NEAT says the camp allows kids to connect with nature differently than they’re used to.

“It’s not just going outside and playing, they’re immersed in it, and they’re playing. We don’t push nature. We’re not out there teaching them what different kinds of trees are or what berries. We do that sometimes, but that’s not our main focus,” McGarvey said.

She says the camp’s primary focus is to get kids into nature and appreciate it.

“We don’t use the word ‘no,’ we don’t say ‘be careful’ or ‘stop what you’re doing’ or any of those things to kids. If somebody is doing something wrong, we will stop them. Then they have to figure out the solution to that problem,” McGarvey explained.

She says this helps kids learn what their boundaries are and gives them a voice, which leads to them having higher levels of self-confidence, self-awareness, and appreciation for nature, themselves and those around them.

“Some of our kids are shy, quiet, don’t fit in, and have behavioural problems. And what we see by the end of camp is that they have a community around them that would fight for them, which is important because now they fit in,” McGarvey said.

She says that NEAT has noticed that the kids who likely need this camp most likely come from low-income families who can’t afford to send their kids to camp or who are partially in foster care.

“Those are the kids we know that we need to get into the forest because if it’s working for all these other kids, it will work for these kids, right. It will give them a voice and make them feel like they belong,” McGarvey said.

She says Camp Wildlings Day aims to raise enough money to put sixty kids through the program.

The Hair Bin Beauty Barber and Spa will donate ten per cent of their profits for the day and have a donation bin on site.

Olive Tree Meditteranean Grill will donate $1 from every meal purchased on-site and host a donation bin.

Home Hardware has been taking $1 or $2 donations for the past week ending April 7th.

Donation bins are also on-site at Carters Jewellers, Friendly Pets, Whole Wheat and Honey Cafe, Apollo Avenue Sunglasses & Watches, and the Fireweed Market.

NEAT will also be hosting an online auction on April 7th.

For more information, contact NEAT at 250-785-6328.