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The Rock and the Campers

July 17, 2012
By: Brenda, Director of Education and Volunteers, Audubon Zoo
Brenda Bee

I have written about my painted rock, “Brenda Bee” for the past two summers. This silly rock with the big blue googly eyes continues to do her job and do her job well. Three years ago I painted a river stone to look like a bee. My goal was to hide her every week of zoo camp to encourage the campers to spend more time out in the zoo and more time paying attention to every little detail of an exhibit or habitat. The camp group that found the bee was given an ice cream party. Campers took to the challenge immediately and would eagerly dash out to the zoo in search of the “bee” rock. I would always hide it in an area specific to the camp theme for the week and give clues every day. I spent a lot of time thinking about the perfect hiding spot and risked life and limb climbing Maya temples or fences to the Loup Garou to hide that rock. The little eagle eyed campers would spot it in a matter of hours.
This year I have been more creative and during Conservation Camp it took them three days to find it. Today I enlisted a bewildered electrician who happened to have a ladder on his cart to help me hide the bee in very difficult high spot in the African savanna. I think he is still confused why I had him hide a rock in the rafters. He just knows I was happy he could help. I am sure this one will be very difficult to find!
When I returned from my hiding mission a parent stopped me. She told me that her son was concerned that there were only two more weeks of camp left and that “he had to find that bee” for his group. I loved it. These kids really do love that rock and the challenge. It’s a hide-and-seek game with a purpose. The purpose is greater than any of the campers will ever know. They think it’s just so they can have an ice cream party. The real purpose is to get them outdoors in nature; to get them to use their observation skills; to get them moving; to get them healthy. That’s a lot for a rock. Luckily she’s up to the job.

Mailing address: Audubon Nature Institute 6500 Magazine St. New Orleans, LA 70118
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