Mississippi River Water Journey Camps

Mississippi River Water Journey Camps took place Summer 2016. This project led by Jonee Kulman Brigham, creator of Earth Systems Journey, was completed with a wonderful team at the University of Minnesota. Here’s a video with highlights, followed by a summary. And for more information go to the project website.

“Water Journey Camps” get children outdoors exploring the natural environment, doing service plantings, and teaching the public how to conserve water and improve water quality to help protect natural areas. Two different one-week summer camps: “Water Journey: Drink” and “Water Journey: Rain,” are held twice each (a total of four camps) at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The camps serve youth ages 6-8 and 9-11 and are part of the University of Minnesota Recreation & Wellness Summer Youth Program.


Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. The initial investment will establish the camp design, content, materials, an approaches so that it is set up to repeat within the structure and fee system of the youth camp program. The first camps will be in summer 2016.


The camps use an engaging arts/science adventure approach, called Earth Systems Journey, designed to bridge a gap between environmental education focused on conservation behavior and environmental education focused on downstream impacts of conservation. By revealing the water infrastructure that connects daily use of water with what happens at the other end of the pipes, conservation lessons can be made more relevant to students’ experience. The camps are designed to address four areas that research indicates enhance stewardship behavior. (1) Children need more opportunities for outdoor experiential environmental education to form bonds with nature. (2) People must see the connection between their actions in the human-built environment and the associated impacts in the natural environment. (3) Children need opportunities to contribute through service activities and using their learning to help others in order to enhance their stewardship competence and identity. (4) Children and the public they will help educate need to have local, place-based examples of how their actions affect the natural areas in their community to increase the immediacy and relevance of stewardship.


The project is led by Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota with a team of collaborators and supporters.

For more information about the camp program or your registration: University of Minnesota Recreation & Wellness Summer Youth Program

For more information about the planning and design of the camps: Beth Mercer-Taylor or Jonee Kulman Brigham