“If you can hear my voice, give me moose ears,” Anna Grimes said over a noisy group of campers — she had to get their attention somehow.
It’s understandable the kids were excited. After all, it’s not every day they get to play with fake blood.
Grimes is an instructor at the University of North Texas’ Elm Fork Education Center, and this week she’s been one of the instructors for “It’s Snot Camp,” one of the many weeklong camps Elm Fork offers during its Explorers Summer Camp program, which lasts through July 19.
The camps are organized by age group, with Snot Camp being attended by third through fifth graders. The camp is aimed at exploring topics conventionally deemed inappropriate, but that many kids are curious about. Snot, farts and anything banned from dinner table conversation are fair game for exploring.
On Friday, the last day of the camp, the kids used fake blood, glue and tissues to form their own scabs — and that was just one of the items on an agenda that included searching each other’s scalps for dandruff and dyeing their teeth to see plaque.
Grimes said educating younger children on such topics comes down to “relating it back to scenarios they can understand.”
Before the campers made their own scabs, Grimes showed them a video on how real scabs form and had them share stories of scabs they had gotten themselves. “It kind of leads off kids teaching each other,” she said.
Elm Fork assistant director Brian Wheeler said Snot Camp keeps kids’ natural curiosity in mind and “answers some of the questions that people don’t always want to talk about.
“We don’t avoid talking to them in the appropriate language,” Wheeler said.
Elm Fork has hosted camps since it opened more than 20 years ago and has seen the program grow from hosting just two camps to the 20 camps over five weeks that it does now. Wheeler says the program’s primary goal is to keep kids curious for as long as possible.
“I do believe that the majority of the kids do retain a lot of the information,” Wheeler said. “More importantly for us would just be to keep them asking questions and know that there’s ways to get answers. ... Playing with science can and should be fun.”