This summer, Appleton Farms in Ipswich will debut an exciting addition to their array of family- and kid-friendly programming: the Appleton Farm Camp, consisting of six week-long sessions that will offer children aged five to thirteen the chance to “learn about the connection between the food they eat and the farm where that food comes from,” says Appleton Farms’ Program Manager, Beth Zschau. Several other Trustees of Reservations properties, including Hingham’s Weir River Farm and the Crane Estate in Ipswich, have offered summer camps with great success, so “the camp was a natural extension of our programs at Appleton,” Zschau adds.
Appleton’s thousand acres offer a myriad of habitats for children to explore, including forests, vernal pools, and farmlands, which come with the promise of animal interaction that will draw many children to the program, according to Zschau. “The kids will spend plenty of time with our goats, chickens, bunnies, dairy cows, and other animals—we expect that to be a very popular part of the camp,” she explains. 25 acres of crops, a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, and an on-site cheesemaker all promise to be camp favorites. While children will explore the property throughout the week, the camp’s home base will be the Carriage Barn at the heart of the farm, adjacent to the Stone Paddock, a one-acre space that will give kids the chance to roam safely under supervision. “The Carriage Barn is the perfect spot,” says Zschau. “The central location gives campers the chance to experience the daily rhythms of a working farm.”
Campers of all ages will begin the day together “with a quick meeting and a game,” says Zschau. “Then we’ll split off into age groups with more tailored activities. The “Little Peeps” group, aged 5-6, will “spend time in the barnyard with the animals, do some crafts, and tell stories,” Zschau explains. Older groups, including the “Farmhands,” aged 7-9, and “Foragers,” aged 10-13, will mix play and learning with “activities that connect to sustainability,” adds Zschau. “The older children will learn about reducing their carbon footprint and take on fun sustainability challenges.” “Little Peeps” will spend a half day at camp, from 9:00 a.m. to noon, while “Farmhands” and “Foragers” will continue to the afternoon, when campers will have the chance to choose elective activities including a “Farm Olympics” obstacle course, cooking sessions with “Crazy Kitchen Concoctions,” and “Creative Crafting, Farm-Style” for artistically-inclined campers. This summer, Zschau expects “about fifty campers per week-long session,” she explains. “This summer will be a chance to gauge interest and work out some of the kinks—we hope to expand to 8 weeks next summer.”
A farm camp of this scale has yet to exist on the North Shore, and the Trustees have already received overwhelming support from the community. “We have so many kids, parents, and regular Appleton visitors saying, ‘Finally!’ There’s been a lot of excitement throughout the community, and parents began signing up the moment we opened registration,” Zschau says. “We’re so happy to be able to offer something of value to our visitors.”