Camp Schmidt, A Rite Of Passage In PG County

By Lina Younes

As I was reading the Saturday paper, I came across an article that made me very sad. The outdoor environmental education center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, commonly known as Camp Schmidt will likely close this summer. This school year may be the last time that fifth graders from across the county will participate in the environmental education activities at Camp Schmidt.

For many in the county, the two day visit to Camp Schmidt has been considered a rite of passage. As part of Maryland’s curriculum, PG County students have been required to spend two days at the camp. For my daughters’ elementary school, the overnight trip was usually scheduled in the spring. So, for three years in a row in the late 90s, I gladly volunteered to chaperone the event. I remember walking in the woods, collecting samples from the stream, and participating in other outdoor activities. My children still cherish their experience at Camp Schmidt. Hope others will continue to enjoy similar experiences in the future.

In general, in Maryland we are quite fortunate to have nature and science learning centers for kids and adults alike. I remember going with my children on several occasions to the Howard B. Owens Science Center to learn about composting and other environmental activities. Even if these field trips do not always lead to a career in the sciences, I’m sure that the experience makes children better environmental protectors now and for generations to come.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as Acting Associate Director for Environmental Education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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