The NEW Outdoor Adventures Program

By Garrett IMG_6382Genereux, Outdoor Adventures Coordinator

Summer is getting closer and closer every day, and this means that we are getting closer and closer to the start of Outdoor Adventures programming here at River Bend. The Outdoor Adventures Program (OAP) is a new and exciting area of programming that seeks to engage people in the outdoors through outdoor recreation activities. The OAP is a resource for beginners and experts alike. We will be offering programs in camping, climbing, slacklining, archery, fly fishing, and canoeing. The OAP will also be renting out gear related to those activities.

Our programs are designed for participants with a range of experience. If you or your family has never tried a specific activity then we will do our best to make sure that you have an exciting and enjoyable first experience. Even if you have some understanding of an activity, you are still going to have an awesome time with us.camping

Our camping program takes place here at the nature center. Learn how to set up a tent and talk about some basic camp craft. After setting up camp, cook a delicious meal that is easy to make while camping. Of course we’ll roast s’mores over a relaxing campfire before we hit the sack. In the morning we will have an awesome breakfast before we break camp. The food, tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads are provided.

Our climbing program is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to try outdoor rock climbing in a safe and fun environment. Staff will provide basic climbing instruction and will belay you as you reach for the top! Our climbing programs take place at Barn Bluff Park in Red Wing, MN. The climbs are typically about 40 feet in length and on a top-rope setup. Participants will mYoung Man Rock Climbingeet us there in the parking lot and we will get you on the rock! Climbing shoes, harness, and helmet will be provided. We will also be offering climbing programs that are for adults only.

Slacklining is a relatively new sport that involves walking on a length of webbing that is stretched between two fixed objects. For our programs experience does not matter! Come join us and we’ll give you tips and tricks of how to walk on a slackline. It is a great way to work on balance and core strength. There will be plenty of time to practice and have a blast on the lines.

Come try the challenge of shooting a bow and arrow with the archery program. Staff will give instruction on shooting technique and safety. The bows we will be usarcherying are compound bows suitable for all sizes and strengths of archers. We will leave plenty of time to practice! Who knows, maybe you will become the next Legolas or Katniss! All necessary equipment is provided.

First the beautiful casting motion, then the effortless landing of the fly perfectly on the water. Ever wonder how people do it? Come to our fly fishing programs! We will start by going over some fly casting techniques and practice on dry land. If time allowsfly-fishing, we will head down to the river and see if we can lure any fish into biting. Fly rods, reels, and flies, are provided.

This is going to be an awesome, action-packed summer! I hope to see you out for one of our programs. We are going to have a great time!

For program dates, times, registration and more information, please check out the Outdoor Adventures Program website at


Summer Camp Highlights

Puddle Jumpers campers

Puddle Jumpers campers pose in the forest with their leaders for their official camp photo.

By Miriam Turnbull, Intern Naturalist

The summer at River Bend is flying by!  We are halfway through our camp season, and looking forward to more fun as the summer continues.  Here are some highlights from camps so far:

June 19-22

Goslings (ages 3-4) – Peekin’ and Sneakin’

Some of our youngest campers used special tools to find plants and animals in various habitats around the Nature Center. One camper caught a HUGE tadpole at Turtle Pond – almost 5 inches long!  First thought to be a bullfrog, it was later identified as a green frog tadpole.  The week ended with an exciting safari on the golf cart.

Puddle Jumpers (ages 5-6) – Scales, Feathers, and Fur

This week, campers learned about different types of animals, such as mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.  We looked around River Bend to find different examples of these animals and learn about their behaviors and habitats. At the end of the week, campers had lots of fun building their own animal habitats in Kids in the Wild natural play area.

Water Tigers (ages 7-9) – Wetland Explorers

Clues and treasure maps were used to find and explore River Bend’s wetlands.  Campers visited Turtle Pond, Prairie Pond, and Hidden Ponds, and had the chance to net and observe various wetland plants and animals.

Teen Camp

Teen Camp campers celebrate the sunset over Lake Superior.

June 25-30

Teen Camp (ages 13-16) – Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Campers this week were able to enjoy a campsite right across the road from Lake Superior.  Other highlights were seeing waterfalls, Lake of the Clouds, and going on a mine tour.

July 10-13

Tadpoles (ages 1-2)

Toddlers and their adults explored different locations, including the prairie and the forest.  Tadpoles had lots of fun getting muddy at Kids in the Wild.

Nature Explorers 1

Nature Explorers work together to dam up the stream flowing into the river.

Nature Explorers 1: On the Prowl (ages 6-9)

Nature Explorers had the chance to plan their own adventures for this week.  Much time was spent making dams and digging in the mud at Kids in the Wild, digging in the sandstone, and exploring side pools and streams of the river.

Junior Naturalists

Campers work on their birch bark boats that they sailed in the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park.

Junior Naturalists – Itasca State Park (ages 10-12)

Junior naturalists journeyed up to northern Minnesota and set up camp near the headwaters of the Mississippi.  One highlight of the week was building natural boats and launching them at the headwaters.

July 17-20

Goslings (ages 3-4) – Animal Adventures

This week, Goslings learned about different kinds of animals at River Bend.  Exciting activities included seeing deer, scattering birdseed, and looking at tiny tadpoles in Turtle Pond.

Puddle Jumpers (ages 5-6) – Creepers and Crawlers

Puddle jumpers learned about different kinds of bugs that live in the forest, prairie, and pond.  Campers had lots of fun looking under logs, netting insects in the prairie, and dipping in Turtle Pond and the river.

Water Tigers (ages 7-9) – Mammal Mysteries

Campers learned about the special characteristics of mammals, and solved clues to learn more about the mammal of the day.  The Mammal detectives were also lucky enough to see lots of mammals while they were exploring, including a doe and two fawns.

Summer Camp

Campers use nets to scoop out plants and animals from the pond and use the bins to view their catch.

This week at River Bend is Nature Explorers 2: Animals Now and Then.  Campers will be learning about animals that lived many, many years ago at River Bend, along with their present-day descendents.

River Bend has more camps coming up soon, and many still have space available! There is a second session of each of the Goslings, Puddle Jumpers, and Water Tigers camps.  Also available are Nature Explorers 3: Park Puzzles (ages 8-10) and Nature Explorers 4: Wild About Water (ages 8-12).  For more information about upcoming camps, check out our website-, or give us a call at 507-332-7151.

Miriam Turnbull is an intern naturalist for the River Bend Nature Center, a member supported non-profit dedicated to helping people discover, enjoy, understand and preserve the incredible natural world that surrounds us. Contact us at or 507-332-7151.