Nature camp in Békáspuszta

Nature camp in Békáspuszta

The last camp of the summer 2023 is organized in an unusual, but hopefully tradition-building way, together with the Fauna and Flora Foundation, with the generous support of Dr. Katalin Karikó, in Békáspuszta between 13-18 August. Based on an open call for applications, not only our Foundation’s supporters, but also talented and interested students from the 5th-8th grades of the Mohács district will participate in the camp. On the first day (Sunday), the focus was on getting to know each other, setting house rules, and bonding with nature and each other. We got to know each other, the place, and the expectations for the week: in addition to nature education, group art-making is an important part of the camp, the final product of which will be presented at the camp’s closing event.

Monday was the real start of the camp, with a series of professional programmes replacing the informal games and socialising. Guided by hunters from Bóly Zrt., we explored the forest near Kölked, set up wildlife cameras and got to know the typical flora and fauna of the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon we visited the agricultural museum next to our accommodation and our camp leader Dorka Gaál held a nature journaling session, where the children could learn in nature and observe and record interesting and imaginative things. Some painted pine cones with the most meticulous observation of every detail, others drew leaves with artistic precision.

On Tuesday, we set off early for the Sumony Bird Migration Research Station near Szigetvár, where we not only got a lecture on the bird of the year 2023, but also got to know the secrets of ringing and even let the ringed birds go. We spent the whole morning learning about the mostly reed birds and accompanying the ringers to the nets where they collected the captured birds every hour. We finished our morning with a short walk around the Sumony fish ponds. In the afternoon, we had a project activity on birds. The children had to work in groups and prepare a presentation of the birds of their choice and present it to their peers. And from what they had heard during the day, a Kahoot! quiz was prepared.

On Wednesday, we went to the Hunting Lodge in Martonfa, where Gábor Agyaki gave a hunting demonstration, and we could also get acquainted with the hunting horn, the culture and traditions of hunters. One of the most exciting was when he performed various tasks with the basically very friendly and playful hunting dogs; besides finding and retrieving the shot game, he also jumped the dog on his colleague disguised as an attacker. The most interesting was when the command to lie down (in their case, drop) lasted not just for a moment, but until he “untied” it.
In the afternoon, we went to the DDNP’s fishing demonstration site at the Boki Danube, where our speaker was conservation warden Zoltán Omacht. He presented the history, culture and techniques of fishing, fishing communities, the poaching gear confiscated in the past decades, and also talked about the conservation guard service; their tasks and the diversity of their activities. We ended the afternoon with a locally cooked fish soup, but the day didn’t end there, because in the evening, when it was dark enough, we went out into the countryside with the Bóly Zrt. hunter to listen to the much talked about deer bellowing. I thought it was a fitting end to the day.

Thursday morning was spent doing sports: canoeing in the Béda-Karapancsa Gorge with the DDNP. While paddling we learned a lot of interesting facts about the local fauna and flora, especially about the bird life. After the two-hour programme, we were visited by Miklós bácsi, who surprised the team with a short but meaningful visit. We processed the images from the wildlife cameras that were set up on Monday; we identified the animals that were photographed, and then we followed up with Kahoot! quizzes on hunting and fishing-water habitats, which brought us back to what we had learned during the week. The rest of the afternoon was spent in three groups preparing for the final event on Friday, when the children were finally able to test the skills of the Fauna and Flora Foundation curators as game masters rather than pupils. The three groups came up with three different games closely linked to what they had learnt during the week: there was a quiz, a board game and a memory game!

Friday started off with a special feeling: one eye rejoicing, the other crying as we all realised that although we had spent a magical week together, it was our last day. In the morning we finalised our games, checked that everything was working well and waited for our guests to arrive. At around 10:30, Erika Csányi, President of the Board of Trustees of the Csányi Foundation, Founder of the Fauna and Flora Foundation, and members of the Board of Trustees of the FFA: Dr. Gyula Sándor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Miklós Heltai and Dr. József Szőts, and Aniko arrived. After a short introduction and greeting, we watched a short film about the week, which the children had not seen before, and after a playful knowledge test, we had lunch together. Throughout the morning, the children continued to impress the outstanding curators. Their farewell was followed by our own. A little tearful, a little laughing, we sat around for the last time this year. The children were presented with their camp souvenir cards, and with a group hug, our camp officially ended.

Thank you to the Fauna and Flora Foundation, the Csányi Foundation, Dr. Katalin Karikó for making this camp possible, and of course to the children for letting us get to know them and for making this camp magical!

Annamária Éles, Dorottya Gaál, Hanna Szép, László Gázsik

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