Roots of Inquiry: Roger Raccoon Club

by Carl Strang

One of the children’s programs I help conduct each year is a camp for 9-12-year-olds called the Roger Raccoon Club. This is one of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s efforts to give suburban kids the opportunity to experience nature through free-form play and exploration. We provide instruction in basic safety, and offer ideas, but then maximize the free time and turn the kids loose. Though inquiry is not part of the curriculum, naturally it comes up. For instance, we teach the safe capture, handling and release of small animals.

RRC09 3b

The children spend an impressive amount of their own time, then, on the hunt.

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Their explorations may give them experiences of looking into water,

RRC09 22b

immersing themselves in water,

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and climbing trees.

RRC09 18b

Creative manipulation of plants may produce a necklace

RRC09 12b

or a magic wand.

RRC09 29b

Following a dry streambed to see where it goes can lead to the discovery of a Silurian cephalopod.

RRC09 37b

Fascination with fire led one boy to see what would happen if he scorched leaves.

RRC09 31b

He reported that some smelled, surprisingly, like apple cider, while others didn’t. My only participation in the process was to suggest that odors are chemicals and heat can produce chemical changes. Where any of these experiences will lead is impossible to say, but I believe it is important that all children have them.

7 Comments

  1. August 6, 2009 at 6:05 am

    […] see eagerness in Roger Raccoon Club  members as they get their opportunity to fish on the second afternoon of the […]

  2. August 17, 2009 at 6:24 am

    […] give the species its name (males lack them, and are pale). She sits on the arm of one of the 2006 Roger Raccoon Club  kids, who brought her to me for identification. Until two weeks ago, she was the only one I had […]

  3. August 5, 2010 at 6:01 am

    […] of the highlights of the Roger Raccoon Club campout at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is the creek […]

  4. July 1, 2011 at 6:07 am

    […] was the first day of the Roger Raccoon Club camp. One popular activity among these 9-to-12-year-olds is trying to catch pond animals with […]

  5. August 5, 2011 at 6:09 am

    […] week there have been fewer posts, as I have been occupied with the Roger Raccoon Club. This is not, as you might guess, a camp about natural history, though inevitably there are moments […]

  6. April 16, 2012 at 6:17 am

    […] Sooner or later, opportunities come to answer some of them. Back in 2006, on the first day of the Roger Raccoon Club camp at Willowbrook Forest Preserve, some of the kids noticed an impressive insect. It was perched […]

  7. July 2, 2012 at 5:54 am

    […] week was the first session of this year’s Roger Raccoon Club. One of the highlights always is the creek hike, which takes place during the overnight campout. We […]


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