Pronghorn Elementary School fifth grade student Sarah Ahlers scans the woods for signs of animal tracks while taking part in an animal science program at Mallo Camp near the South Dakota border Thursday morning.
To arrive at Mallo Camp, a tucked-away gem in the westernmost edges of the famed Black Hills and less than 2,000 feet away from the South Dakota state line, is to be invited to forget. Forget the distractions of the world when cellular service drops away. Forget the trappings of modernity and embrace a return to nature. Forget that for weeks a year, the camp is essentially one big science classroom.
This year marks the 40th year of Mallo Camp, the overnight science camp opportunity offered to all Campbell County School District fifth graders. The years don’t match the number of camps though; there are only 39 candles on this particular birthday cake. COVID-19 robbed last year’s fifth graders of this rite of passage, and it won’t be until the spring, when the district’s agreed to allow the now-sixth graders their Mallo Camp experience a year late, that it can truly earn that 40th candle.