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Sss’nice to meet you at ‘conssservation’ camp

By Bill Samuel

Jenny Pearce and Sean Espinola, of Sciensational Sssnakes, answer questions about snakes and other reptiles. Bill Samuel photo

Of all the creatures on Earth there is none more misunderstood then the snake.
The day-campers at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area had the chance to test that theory last week when special guest Jenny Pearce brought her Sciensational Sssnakes presentation for a visit.
With her friends Splash (the Northern Water Snake), Angus (Eastern Milk Snake) and a variety of other snake and reptile species ingeniousness to Ontario, Pearce and her assistant Sean Espinola explained why people fear and misunderstand snakes.
“I have had snakes since I was little and I love them,” said Pearce. “People would say they were slimy or aggressive and that’s all wrong. So the key is education.”

The Garter Snake, Milk snake, a handful of Corn Snakes as well as a Blanding’s Turtle and a young Snapping Turtle were the stars of the presentation.
“Reptiles are an important part of the environment,”

Zach Miller greets a garter snake. Bill Samuel photo

said Pearce. “Except for the Painted Turtle, all reptiles in Ontario are at risk.”
Quinte Conservation has been running summer day camps in Picton and Belleville for more than 10 years. Day campers learn about nature hands-on.
“We give the kids activities that are hands-on,” said Maya Navrot, Quinte Conservation, Education Coordinator. “Netting in the pond is very popular and for a lot of kids, this is the first time they have had a hands-on experience with nature.”
At the end of the presentation, all the snakes were brought out for visiting with the campers. There were two rules: first there was no intimidating somebody else with a snake and no running with a snake. The kids showed no shyness in handling their new-found friends as the snakes explored in shirts, over shoulders and climbing up into one campers hat.

A Blandings Turtle looks at its audience. Bill Samuel photo

Pearce noted many of Ontario’s native species are now endangered in the wild, and rarely seen. “Sciensational Sssnakes maintains the most complete collection of Ontario reptile and amphibian species in the province, which allows unparallelled opportunities to learn about these animals and the challenges we face to make sure they survive in the future.”
There are four weeks of camp in August at Macaulay Mountain Conservation Area near Picton.  Special guests include the Paddling Puppeteers and Conservation Officer Colin and his trusty canine partner Tanner.
“Registration is going very quickly this year with a number of weeks already booked full.” says Navrot, “There are still spots available in August but parents should book soon to avoid disappointment”.  The four weeks of camp in August are:
* Survive the Wild (August 2 – 6)
* Animal All Stars (August 9 – 13)
* Nature’s Mysteries (August 16 – 20)
* Winged Wonders Camp (August 23 – 27)
Registration is limited to 22 children per week, with three leaders. Parents and guardians may check program details and register their children on-line at  Those without access to the Internet may register in person at Quinte Conservation’s main office at 2061 Old Highway 2, or call Maya for more information at 613-968-3434. Also visit

Filed Under: Local News


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  1. Christina Stratton says:

    ‘Snake’ you for an informative article about my favourite (or not so favourite) creature! I sssssincerely enjoyed it and….well….feel a little guilty for the ‘ugly’ faces I make whenever I sssssee a snake.

    I’ll be sure to sssssmile next time I sssssee one.


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