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Kids get their hands dirty at Elachee day camp
Campers used stamps like these to make impressions in clay as part of the Inspired by Nature day camp taught by Pat Mears Monday at the Elachee Nature Science Center. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
Nature was captured in miniature Monday at Elachee Nature Science Center’s Inspired by Nature day camp. Diminutive bear tracks, turtles and beavers walked all over the pottery as campers decorated their clay discs using 3-D stamps.

"I think this is going to be the coolest thing ever," said Evan Moore, 5, as he began his art design, sifting his hand through a box of stamps.

The pottery activity was part of the day camps that take place this week at the Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville. The camp was open to kids from preschool through fifth grade.

Day camp activities are not just inspired by nature, but also drawn from local sources. Instructor Pat Mears, for whom pottery has been a hobby for 30 years, said Georgia red clay was used for the pottery, which would be fired in a kiln to give it a rich terra cotta color before being handed back to the kids.

In addition, Mears said Native American pottery shards from around the area were used as imprinting tools.

Participants were able to draw from a collection of stamps — such as deer tracks, arrow pieces, leaf outlines and other shapes — with which to imprint and decorate their pottery discs.

This week, about 40 participants will explore the great outdoors at the 1,200-acre nature preserve through activities such as hiking, nature exhibits and playing in the creek. Assistant camp director Matt Walters said the camp’s theme was inspired by scenic surroundings.

"Elachee is one of the largest greenspaces outside metro Atlanta," he said.

Walters said there are still spaces available at most of Elachee’s four weeks of summer camps.

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