For the 26 youngsters at Carbon County Environmental Education Center's Conservation Camp, fun was the word for the week, as they met up with old friends and made some new ones and learned a lot about their environment.

The overnight camp began Monday and continues through Friday at Camp Shehaqua at Hickory Run State Park.

The weeklong camp gives children the opportunity to connect with nature through hands-on activities.

After icebreaker activities on Monday, the camp swung into action with sports, Mad Scientist program and story telling time and that was only the first day at camp.

The second day featured more science with Ed Flyzik and Susie Staloski of Air Products and Chemicals, Hometown, who presented a program on liquid nitrogen. The program showed the campers how liquid nitrogen interacts with hot dogs, (freezes them), flowers, (makes them brittle) and how metal reacts to being dipped.

Through the program, children learned that nitrogen freezes at minus 320 degrees.

Wearing protective gloves, Flyzik dipped the hot dog into the nitrogen and when he pulled it out, it was frozen. He said that hot dogs are mostly water. Flyzik said that liquid nitrogen helps with keeping food products fresh from harvesting to market. They concluded the program by making Oreo ice cream in a big metal bowel before the campers eyes and serving it to them.

"I learned that liquid nitrogen is super cold," said Jada Strump, 12, of Abington, Md. "It's minus 320 degrees."

"I learned that if you are not careful, you could hurt yourself," said Alana Troxell, 11, of Tamaqua.

Flyzik said that he presents programs for children through adults and gears each presentation to the age level of his audience.

"I try to keep it moving and keep it interesting," he said.

They concluded the program by making Oreo ice cream in a big metal bowel before the campers eyes and serving it to them.

Campers take part in bonfire, sports, crafts, with an emphasis on the environment.

Wednesday is always set aside to go rafting on the Lehigh River and then later today they will be making their own tie dye camp shirts. Whitewater Rafting Adventures runs the trip. Kids are assigned rafts with adults, and they run the summer float section of the Lehigh River.

They will also enjoy a butterfly program, reptile program and talent show later in the week.

This is the 25th year for the camp program that started in 1988 when Judy Wink was chief naturalist. Susan Gallagher, chief naturalist at Carbon County Environmental Education Center, has been with the program since its inception.

This year Jeannie Carl, naturalist, was head of the kitchen staff.

"I enjoyed it," she said. "Its been a great experience."

Each day the children are assigned chores within the camp, such as washing dishes and cleaning off tables.

Carbon County Environmental Education Center's Conservation Camp charges a fee for the camp, although it is partially underwritten by contributions from area businesses. Enrollment is limited to 25 children with residents of Carbon County having priority in selection.