The Outdoor Education Center attracts fifth-, sixth-, seventh- or eighth-graders as well as some ninth-graders.
“Every once in awhile, we’ll have a college group. They are coming from Montreal, New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, Quebec City and also a lot of the local towns — Peru, Saranac, AuSable Forks, Keene, Morrisonville and Lake Placid,” DeGroat said.
The center’s tagline is “making learning natural.”
“Our mission statement is to create awe in the presence of nature,” he said.
“Winter programming is basically the same as all our other programming, it’s just colder and with more snow,” DeGroat said. “That’s when we’ll do ice fishing. We’ll do cross-country skiing. We’ll do winter survival where we teach kids how to make survival structures out of snow. Yesterday, we made a quincy (snow shelter). The snow is not bad for making ice blocks right now. So, you could make an igloo if you had a lot of time. We do ice climbing instead of rock climbing in the winter. We spend more evenings inside than outside in the winter months, especially during these temperatures.”
Winter is really a very busy time at Camp Pok-O, the widely used diminutive.
“We also do a Winter Break Camp for local students during their winter break. So in February (from Feb. 18 to 22), we will have 30 kids from all over Plattsburgh, Peru and Beekmantown coming here, and that’s a day camp,” DeGroat said.
Pok-O is in the midst of its Cabin Fever Lecture Series, a community event.
“Tonight is our second in a four-part series,” DeGroat said. “We have Steve Hall from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge coming to discuss bears and people in the Adirondacks. Last week, we did a lecture on the history of maple sugaring in the North Country, which was paired up with a maple-syrup seminar that we’ve been putting on ... We’re teaching local people how to get involved with maple sugaring. We feel it’s a very valuable resource that is going untapped literally in New York. We were able to partner with the Wild Center and the Northeast New York Maple Producers Association.”