Local students are learning the importance of good water quality during this week's "Journey to the Bottom of the Creek" youth day camp.
Blue Thumb, the Grand River Dam Authority and the Oklahoma State University's Extension Program are presenting the educational foray into the state's natural water sources.
Jeri Fleming, communications director for Blue Thumb, said it's vital that everyone knows how humans influence water quality.
"I think we're becoming more aware of the impact that we have on our water, and it's really important that we start with kids, so as they grow, they have a better understanding of how they're impacting the water," she said. "Hopefully they'll have a greater respect for the things that live in the creek, plus a better understanding of how we all live in a watershed and how we all impact streams and rivers, no matter where we are."
Fleming said society has grown disconnected with the outdoors, and many people don't think about how their decisions affect other communities.
"If everybody in every community that drains into the Gulf of Mexico has that same feeling, then you end up with a huge problem in the Gulf," she said. "So what you do in your own community really does make a difference."
On the first day of camp, kids discussed different sources of water and how they can do their part to conserve it.
"I've learned a way to not use all the water in your house and not use so many gallons," said camper Taven Neal. "That way we can have good water to drink, and we won't waste any. It's just cool to learn about what's all in and under the water."
Even though the camp was open to the public, campers had to prove they wanted to be there by submitting a two-paragraph paper on why clean water is important.
"We wanted them to feel vested in it, and we got some really cute responses," Fleming said. "You could really tell that the kids had written them. It makes them think about it a little bit more and get them ready for camp."
This time of year, there are dozens of camps kids can visit across the country, but there are very few like The Journey to the Bottom of the Creek.
"It's an opportunity for kids to go to a camp and actually learn," said Fleming. "Not that other camps aren't important, but it's something that is kind of unique experience for kids, because these aren't done all over the place."
Parent Shellie Willoughby said it wasn't hard to convince her son, Andrew, to attend the camp.
"He was looking for things to learn this summer, because he's into science," said Willoughby. "So it give him an opportunity to expand on something and learn hands-on about the different bugs that go into the creek. Little boys love being in the creek and in the mud, but this is expanding and exploring on that."
By the end of the camp, attendees will have discovered the water cycle, how water gets polluted, what is living under the waves, and how erosion works. They'll also seine for bugs at the Town Branch Creek, and finish off their week by taking a guided float trip on the Illinois River.
"These are the ones that'll be looking after the river when I'm gone," said Ed Fite, GRDA vice president.