Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

2014 Summer Camp Highlights!


View Photos from the 2014 Camp Season

Aahhh, summer….  The season of summer day camp; when Life Lab rings with the sound of children’s laughter, the sun shines down on the heads of kids playing games in the meadow, and every child lifts up a cup of a delicious green garden smoothie and gives thanks to the bees and the chickens.  I think the camp staff says this every single summer, and it is always true, “This summer was the best year yet for summer camp!”  

It’s been a summer of growth, for the garden plants as well as the number of kids served and the amount of volunteer support we received.  This summer we welcomed 120 kids total in our Garden Sprouts Camp for 4-6 year olds, 84 kids in our Wildlands and Watering Cans Camp for 7-10 year olds, and 14 kids in our one week Farm and Wilderness Camp for 11-14 year olds.  We also had a record number of high school youth volunteers and adult community volunteers, in addition to our counselor staff, helping to keep the kids safe, healthy, and having loads of fun.

Every Life Lab camper participates in hands-on exploration of the natural world, harvesting and preparing food from the farm, hiking, garden crafts, music, and storytelling on a daily basis.  Our activities are always fun, but the secret to creating a truly special camp environment, and summer memories that last a lifetime: Give love and appreciation, everyday to those around you, and to the place where those memories are being made.  All staff, volunteers, and campers, give appreciation and support to each other in a way that makes a lasting difference.  As one camp mother said on the last day of camp, “My daughter has opened up and gained more confidence in just the last two weeks than she has all year.”  

Summer is all about letting go of the worries and pressures of the school year and embracing the joy of life and simple things.  You can see it in the way that a group of Wildlands campers can’t wait to be the first on stage during snack time, to act out their farmer interview and the wildlife they saw on the farm; or in the way a group of Garden Sprouts campers proudly march through the garden with their milk-jug “watering cans”, diligently watering every semi-parched plant they find; or in the way the faces of the Farm and Wilderness kids break out into grins as they learn how to knead dough and make bread.  It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but as one seven year old told me on his last day of camp, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back next year!”

Cara-Alexandra Sundell
Garden Educator and Wildlands and Watering Cans Camp Director

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Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

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Just when I thought we’d seen it all ... this is an agrophotovoltaic school garden underneath massive solar panels at @Manzo.Ecology in Tucson. The elementary school students here gather and analyze data on how the shade from the panels helps the plants grow and how the plants help cool the panels and increase their efficiency. What?!?! It’s amazing and gives me hope. Oh, and also they have a desert tortoise in their courtyard. ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
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Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom