Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

New activities your children can expect at Youth Summer Camp — Marian University’s EcoLab

We’ll be offering some of the favorites from summers past — fishing swimming, language lessons — as well as some new activities. EcoLab is a great start. Don’t let your kids miss this very special experience.

Keith and Brenda Turner have been working overtime to come up with new activities in 2019’s Youth Summer Camp. We’ll share some of them as July approaches … imagine how much fun your children while being educated.

Says Marian University:

Youth Summer Camp 2019

Session 1: Monday, July 22 — Friday, 26, 9:00 am — 4:00 pm
Session 2: Monday, July 29 — Friday, August 2, 9:00 am — 4:00 pm
Before- and after-care available

Indiana Interchurch Center, Dining Room
1100 W. 42nd St.

The Nina Mason Pulliam (NMP) EcoLab is a 55-acre outdoor environmental education laboratory located on the campus of Marian University. It provides opportunities for students to learn about lowland forest, prairie and wetland ecosystems, wildlife, native and non-native species, and water quality.

Environmental education programs have been developed with teachers’ needs in mind. Programs can range from a 1 hour expert-led hike, to a two hour program including a hike and service project to a four hour program including a hike, service project and Nina Mason Pulliam Nature Center experience. The get-your-hands-dirty service projects may vary among planting native plants, removing non-native plants or sowing seeds.The NMP Nature Center experience includes a lab activity and a variety of hands-on inquiry stations. We can also accommodate anything in-between and develop programs to address specific teacher-chosen themes.

Indy’s Child had an article about the oh so very cool EcoLab a couple years ago:

“New discovery: The Marian University EcoLab”

Luis Ruvelcaba, Indy’s Child, May 22 3016

Just when you think you’ve been everywhere in the city and there is nowhere else you can possibly take your children that they couldn’t walk through blindfolded while giving you an oddly sarcastic description of everything around them, we find a new-to-us place to explore! With summer coming, we’re all going to need the hidden gems we can find to entertain the kids.

So let me ask you this, have you been to Marian University’s Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab?

First – and total shocker to me – Marian University is located like thisclose to the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acres {howdy neighbor!}. Now I’ve known Marian because of the signs pointing in its direction whenever we’re visiting the IMA and have heard rumblings about its cycling team {as in bicycling, not recycling – they are also adjacent to the Major Taylor Velodrome after all!}.

But the EcoLab? It’s tucked away from view but once you find it you’ll see it’s full of surprises. It features an amazing outdoor hiking path complete with such kid-friendly grossness as skunk cabbage and extremely well-labeled poison ivy.

Why would you want that? Easy. Ask my wife to identify poison ivy. She can’t. In fact, there is a story in my daughter’s favorite Fancy Nancy book where Nancy CLAIMS to know the rhyme {“Leaves of three let it be!”} and still manages to get herself covered in the stuff. Kids like to think they know what to stay away from, but here you can show them the real-life stuff with no ambiguity. This is most certainly poison ivy, and you most certainly shouldn’t touch it. The EcoLab is a well-controlled environment to teach kids wilderness survival… or just common sense.


Skunk cabbage probably won’t come up much in your average trip through the woods, but it does smell terrible which my son thought was amazing. The nearby placards told us that it has pretty interesting medical benefits including those for respiratory issues. My asthmatic daughter could not be persuaded to eat it though… I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works anyway but I would have shown the picture at her wedding.

Our favorite part of the EcoLab was the bat boxes! High in the trees, these little homes are perfect for little bloodsuckers. Actually, as you will learn at the EcoLab, most bats do not suck blood. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but let’s just say Dracula really pulled one over on us.

So yea, this hidden gem is definitely worth exploring. Check out the greenery and get a closer look at Indiana’s native environment. It’s open from dusk to dawn and completely free. Park your car near the old Allison estate, and then climb down the stairs. Tell the turtles we sent you!


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