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Children Learn About Farm & Nature at Snipes Farm Summer Camp in Lower Bucks

For 15 Years, the Community Farm Has Brought the Gift of Adventure, Learning and Friendship to Hundreds of Children 

Morrisville, PA

September 2023

An older woman smiles as she holds a chicken wrapped in a bath towel.
Snipes Farm Camp Director Melanie Douty Snipes holds a young egg-laying hen requiring special care.

On Monday, August 14, the rising sun welcomed a strangely quiet scene at Snipes Farm & Education Center, a vibrant swash of green tucked into a cityscape of highways in Lower Bucks County. 

For the previous eight weeks, this community farm had burst into life every Monday with the buzzing energy, and shouts and laughter of scores of children and counselors arriving to gather under two giant shade trees for the start of another week of camp. Sitting in a large circle, they sang camp songs and prepared for another day of fun, learning, and friendship. 

But on this Monday, only the distant rumble of farm machinery could be heard and the crackle of gravel as the occasional car traveled past the farm’s Big Red Barn. 

The 15th year of the Snipes Farm Day Camp in Lower Bucks County had come to an end.

Recalling that moment released a torrent of emotion and memories a few weeks later for Camp Director Melanie Douty Snipes. 

“Camp is such a blessing at this farm. In the world we make together here, there’s so much joy, and friendship, and growing and learning,” Melanie said, sporting a forest green camp T-shirt, her everyday uniform. “For 15 years, we have been figuring out how to use every nook and cranny of this farm for adventure and education.” 

Indeed, the farm has been transformed in myriad ways since 2008, when the nonprofit Snipes Farm & Education Center was founded, revitalizing a 7th generation farm and nursery with a new mission: sharing bountiful harvests of organic fruits and vegetables with the surrounding community and teaching people how to live in respectful harmony with nature. 

And not only for people who can afford to pay. 


Giving back to the community is at the very heart of the nonprofit’s mission. 

For the past 15 years, Snipes Farm & Education Center (SFEC) has provided camp scholarships to area families. It has worked with the Bucks County Homeless Shelter and more recently with the Sprout U. of the Arts in Trenton to bring children ages 5-15 to the camp on scholarship. 

This past year, 67 of the 274 summer campers (one quarter of the total) attended the camp on scholarship. They came from the homeless shelter, Sprout U. and the Interfaith Food Alliance. SFEC is grateful for the generosity of individuals, civic organizations, congregations, foundations and businesses, including local bank branches, who make this possible. 

SFEC is also committed to hunger relief, with 70 percent of the organic produce it grows distributed every year to low-income seniors and other people in need through the farm’s hunger-relief partners. 

A kid drags his feet through the water as he swings across a creek at the end of his arms. Water goes everywhere all around him. Another child picks a blackberry from among many in the child's hand. The last of 3 pictures show two children feeding a lettu

“We’ve always wanted to make sure children on scholarship were part of the community, not just kids who can afford it,” Melanie explained. “We’re not a complete community unless we’re all there.”

Every child who sets foot on this farm enters a world rich in growing fields and meadows, gentle farm animals, a bubbling creek, and the deep wooded shade of the Nature Trail.

At the Snipes Farm Summer Camp, children spend much of their time in small “bunk” groups. The youngest group, ages 5-6, are called the Green Beans. Next in age are the Rutabagas (7-8), the Sweet Potatoes (9-10) and, finally, the Zucchinis (11-12). The age range in the camp leadership group is 13-15 years old.


Each group shares a sheltered home base or “bunk” where they learn, grow and form friendships under the care of a counselor and a counselor-in-training. And each bunk has its own “bunk critter.” The Green Beans took care of a Beta fish this past summer. The other groups shared their bunks with 2 turtles, 2 guinea pigs, hermit crabs and the “Bearded Dragon,” a lizard named Otis.

Camp begins with informal games and play as campers arrive. At approximately 9 am, everyone joins the All-Camp Morning Circle under the shade of two giant trees behind the Big Red Barn. There the day’s activities are introduced, and camp songs are sung.

Next comes Community Care, another word for chores that aren’t really “chores” assuch because they frequently involve giving food and water to the gentle farm animals: two goats, two ducks, four bunnies, a flock of chickens and a bevy of quail. Weeding thegarden and sweeping the cider barn might not be quite as much fun – but it’s all part of caring for the Snipes farm community.

Then comes the mid-morning snack, and folks, we are not talking about soda and candy.



Campers enjoy healthy snacks made with fruits and vegetables grown on the farm. Made by “Chef Angel” this past summer, the snack might be a farm-blueberry muffin, a blackberry smoothie, or a garden salad.

Following chores, children and counselors engage in a variety of lessons and activities including art, cooking, and exploring nature. This which might involve a visit to the Italian-Bee hives where many of the farm’s winged pollinatorslive or perhaps an exploration of the “critters” teeming in the soil beneath their feet.

Then comes lunch and a choice of activities in the afternoon. Rousing competitive games like Capture the Flag or Ga Ga (a kickball game held in a low-walled, wooden enclosure) are always popular.

But on hot summer days, there’s nothing like picking ripe blackberries off the bush, exploring critter habitats in theshade of the Nature Trail or jumping into the cool water of the creek.

“The creek is probably the kids’ favorite place to go, especially on a hot day,” Melanie said. “They love to find naturalclay to make things. They love to find salamanders and crayfish. And of course, they stay cool. That’s the number one thing on a hot day.”

Melanie is looking forward to the October bonfire reunion with camp families and is already making plans for the 2024 summer camp season.

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