Last Saturday, at the Dunes Learning Center Summer Camp Open House, I was able to do something I haven’t done since my Chicago Girl Scout days. Not only was I able to share a roasted marshmallow, a campfire and a good ghost story, but I was the one telling the story.

Winter is a special time in the dunes, offering ample opportunity for fun and learning! Dunes Learning Center naturalists lead field-based school programs in every season, so we asked them to share their top winter recreation recommendations, below.

It's important to listen with your heart as well as your head, cautions Eric Spruth of Sacred Transformations. His audience, sporting tie-dye and and mosquito bites, nods knowingly.

Swimming in the lake, goofy songs learned around a campfire, the chatter of birds as you walk through dew-damp grass on the way to breakfast. If you were lucky enough to attend summer camp as a child, you probably have cherished memories like these.

Students participating in Dunes Learning Center programs at their school, planted 200 trees across Hobart, Portage, and East Chicago in honor of Arbor Day last month. Thanks to the Million Trees Project.

Following a “family” holiday dinner last year, a group of Dunes Learning Center naturalists and outreach educators went on an amazing birding adventure—with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. Watching “The Big Year” inspired a friendly rivalry of their own.

We've had a fantastic winter exploring the dunes with students participating in our winter ecology programs, but spring is coming, along with Frog in the Bog! Learn more at duneslearningcenter.org/schoolyear #KidsNeedNature #EverykidinaPark #LearnYourPark

“I just want to say how much my kids enjoy participating in Mighty Acorns. I am positive that this program has inspired all of my kids in both 4th and 5th grade. My heart is full after spending time out in the natural world.” #kindsneednature #natureneedskids

"I've never been this far into the woods before!" said David, a 5th grader from Central Elementary who visited Imagination Glen with his class on their winter Mighty Acorns study trip. #kidsneednature #natureneedskids

“Years of research show conclusively that child-directed play... fosters the development of the whole child—children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills; contributes to school success; and is a necessary and important part of every child's life.”

On their winter #mightyacorns study trip, 3rd graders from Washington Elementary in East Chicago helped cut invasive plants in a restored prairie with @heinzetrust, learned about predator-prey relationships, and took a tour of Arcelor Mittal's global research facility! This trip would not ha…

Washington Irving students learned about the importance of #stewardship from Park Ranger Ted Winterfeld as they helped to remove oriental bittersweet, a common invasive species. #kidsneednature #everykidinapark #learnyourpark

Dunes Learning Center was proud to cohost the 2016 #bioblitzWorkshop with @indianadunesnps! Parks (and students) across the country will participate in a Bioblitz on May 20-21 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of our national parks. Educators spent the day practicing citizen science acti…

4th graders from Kyle Elementary in Portage explored the #winterwoods on their #mightyacorns study trip. They learned about our native #trees, cut invasive shrubs with @heinzetrust, and found animal tracks and woodpecker holes! Generous support from @arcelormittal makes these trips possible!…

A huge thanks to Pines Village for making us another bench out of approximately 400 pounds of plastic bottle caps!! These benches are great examples for our students of the creative ways to re-purpose "trash." Thanks to Pine Village, 400 pounds of plastic won't go in a landfill! #KidsNeedNat…

DLC naturalist Mari Aviles took this photo of a Barred Owl pellet along the Little Calumet River. Owls swallow their prey whole and then cough up the indigestible hair and bones. Students at DLC have the unforgettable experience of looking and listening for these birds on night hikes through…

Meet Nate the Nature Nut! He made his debut at Clark Middle School in St. John, where @DunesLearning outreach educators have been delivering environmental education programs on a monthly basis. Needless to say, he was a big hit! #kidsneednature

Crisman Elementary students arrived at their winter #mightyacorns study trip to find a frozen forest! They learned how weather affects the local plants and animals then they helped clean up an invasive species called bush honeysuckle. These educational stewardship programs are made possible …

#Treefrogs can't survive out in the cold winter weather, so they find a place to hide under leaf litter or in the cracks of logs. They can even survive being frozen solid! #Naturalists found this frozen #treefrog underneath some leaves while preparing to build a campfire. It'll be just fine …

Black-capped chickadees stay in the Dunes all year, from the hot and humid summer to the cold, harsh winter. At Dunes Learning Center, children are able to observe these common yet fascinating birds in all four seasons, learning about winter adaptations and ecological relationships. #kidsnee…

Year-round thousands of children are immersed in hands-on nature experiences that build confidence, provide connection and create the next generation of environmental citizens. Your support of these programs provides future generations with outdoor learning experiences that will last them a …

DLC naturalist Mari Aviles took this photo of a #snowyowl at the beach in #MichiganCity. While the number of Snowy Owl sighting haven't been nearly as high as last #winter, there have already been a handful of sightings in the dunes this year. #KidsNeedNature #projectsnowstorm

Kahler and St. Thomas More students design an experiment to practice for #scienceolympiad competition. Science Olympiad is a great program that helps to inspire the next generation of scientists. Teams attending 2 day clinics at our #indianadunesnationallakeshorecampus are prepared for their…

"I don't want to sit down, I want to explore nature, because that's what we came here to do!" -Jessa, 4th grader #MightyAcorns #kidsneednature #natureneedskids

South Haven Elementary students explored the winter woods for their second of three #mightyacorns study trips this year. They're excited to see what the forest looks like when they come back in the spring! #kidsneednature #natureneedskids #forest

Central Elementary students from Portage came out to Imagination Glen Park today for their winter #mightyacorns study trip. They explored forest, prairie, and wetland habitats while learning science. Can't wait to see them for their spring trip! #kidsneednature #natureneedskids

Montessori Children's Schoolhouse students shared their excitement after removing invasive species during their service learning experience. Their stewardship will help improve the forest habitat and make room for native species! #KidsNeedNature #NatureNeedsKids #LearnYourPark

Third graders start their day off with team building activities, working together to make a mushroom parachute!

We had a fun day training teachers from Hobart, Portage, East Chicago, and Chesterton on the new#mightyacorns curriculum. Can't wait to play these games with the kids on their winter and spring field trips! #kidsneednature

Liberty Elementary students spent a day with us learning about winter ecology! They thought about how some animals use shelters to stay out of the cold and conducted experiments on how well they could build their own animal shelter.

Naturalists practicing fire building techniques to share with students during their winter exploration!

A drawing and haiku by Trevor Kunst, a 5th grader at John Simatovich Elementary. Thanks to our partners @southshorearts, students are able to interpret and share nature through art and poetry! #KidsNeedNature

Dunes Learning Center naturalists prepare for winter programming with a refresher course in team-building exercises. From December to March students come to learn about winter ecology in the dunes.

Dunes Learning Center naturalists with friends and family planted 20 trees on campus! These trees will replace the trees recently affected by the invasive emerald ash borer. Special thanks to Drew from the Forest Service, Andrea from NIPSCO, and Ana from @kibiorg for coming out and teaching …

Yost Elementary students made hypotheses about the ecosystems they will be exploring on their Cowles Bog hike. #KidsNeedNature #EveryKidinaPark #LearnYourPark

HAST students #discovertheforest! Dunes Learning Center provides experiences like these to thousands of kids each year.

Dunes Learning Center is the only organization in the region to offer year-round, multi-day, educational nature experiences for children. Many of these kids have never been hiking before. It is a huge confidence boost to spend all day exploring the savannas and woodlands of Cowles Bog.