Upham Woods offers winter, summer programs

February 1, 2019

Winter is fully here in Wisconsin Dells, but at Upham Woods preparations are already underway for summer even as the camp operates snowy activities.

On Jan. 24 the management of the camp held activities for both summer and winter, as children came to participate in cross country skiing while representatives from area 4H and schools participated in a STEM training and an informational session for summer camps.

Located on the Wisconsin River, Upham Woods is operated by the University of Wisconsin and spans 318 acres of land in Wisconsin Dells, including the 218 acre Blackhawk Island.

Programs are offered year-round, with cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and other activities in the winter, and canoeing, fishing, swimming, and more offered in warmer weather.

“We host lots of local youth during the winter,” said Dr. Justin Houghman, director at Upham Woods. “There’s a sports camp five Thursdays in a row with each session a different winter activity like cross country skiing.”

“We want to encourage these kids to participate in winter recreation,” Houghman said. “It’s fun… it’s healthy living, and it gets (them) comfortable outside.”

While the children took part in a skiing adventure on freshly fallen snow, representatives from Juneau County, Dodge County, Outagamie County, Jefferson County, and other 4H groups, along with volunteers from Calumet County and representatives from middle schools throughout the state, spent the day engaging in focus groups, STEM training, and Digital Observation Tool Skills training.

“It’s a wide variety of folks, but they all use Upham Woods for programming,” said Max Meyers, program director at Upham Woods. “We share our goals for the year, receive feedback… and get ready for summer programs.”

According to Houghman, that program doesn’t change much year to year as the staff try to perfect what they already offer. Included in those offerings are lessons on local and cultural history, such as hikes on Blackhawk Island where students learn about how people logged, farmed, and used the island as a trade route with stagecoach trails, as well as taking advantage of the “natural classroom” that is the Wisconsin River and its surrounding forested area, which provides reptiles, amphibians, raptors, and nature to explore and learn from.

“We do a lot of classic camp stuff, cabins, canoe, archery, campfires, fishing, a challenge course, and swimming,” said Houghman. “Everyone, (whether) kids or camp counselors or staff, has fun.”

Summer camp in 2019 is now open for registration, with two four-day programs and two seven-day programs available. The four-day programs cost $225, and last from July 21-24 and Aug. 7-10. The seven-day programs cost $395 and go from July 7-13 and July 14-20.

The camp is also looking for camp counselors for the summer sessions, with Houghman saying that they “would love more local applicants” for positions such as counselors and naturalists.

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