WEforum’s Curious Gardener Summer Camp 2022 at Mastro Montessori

April 2022

By Clara Logan, Director of Mastro Montessori Academy


Beyond the excellence in academics that the Montessori method is known for, Mastro Montessori of Shrewsbury strives to instill a love of the natural world in each of its students through environmental education.

In 2017 the school established The Garden of Honor in memory of Mastro Montessori father, Neil DeSena. WEforum founder and wife of Neil, Carolyn DeSena, wanted her husband’s 17 raised bed organic garden to become an extension of the classroom, providing hands-on learning experiences in curriculum areas including math, science, engineering, and art. She came up with the idea to create a summer garden camp to help the school sustain the Garden of Honor through the summer months and to introduce gardening and environmental instruction to children in the Two River community. Through the collaboration of Mastro Montessori and WEforum, The Curious Gardener Summer Camp was born and has been thriving for the past four years.

The Garden of Honor has become the centerpiece for Mastro’s Curious Gardener Summer Camp. The weeklong camp for 1st through 6th-grade students encourages a love of nature and gardening through hands-on activities that teach across the curriculum and content areas. These activities teach skills and integrate learning in multiple subject areas, which align with the age of the learners, such as environmental sustainability, nutrition, health, wellness, community service, and an introduction to the practical business skills of running a green market. Teacher and professional experts bring the garden to life and incorporate a variety of subject areas into the program to enhance and elevate the experience for each child.

Starting with our youngest Toddler Community, children ages fifteen months through three years enjoy harvesting herbs, fruits, and vegetables from the garden or one of the many potted plants throughout the campus. Primary age students, from three to six years old, love getting their hands dirty planting seedlings and pulling weeds. They also love taking their writing journals out to the garden on warm days, writing and drawing pictures of what they find there. Older students also enjoy getting their hands dirty along with delving into some of the complex benefits of growing a garden, as it applies to environmental science and commerce, amongst other subject areas. Additionally, Mastro features three indoor/outdoor aeroponic tower gardens to allow for year-round harvesting. One of the students’ favorite activities is making kale chips; after harvesting fresh kale from the tower gardens, the students bake them with seasonings and dig in!

In addition to the garden and aeroponic tower, Mastro is home to three thriving beehives! There are two outdoor hives and one indoor observation hive, housed in the elementary building. The observation hive provides an inside look at the inner workings of a beehive both for the campers in summer and Mastro students all year long. During the warmer weather, elementary students ages in bee suits and assist in checking the outdoor hives, and when the time comes, they can harvest honey. The students love seeing how centrifugal force extracts the honey from the honeycomb. Bees, vermiculture (worms), harvesting, composting and more are all a part of the summer garden camp curriculum.

Monmouth Medical Center has partnered with the summer camp for over three years and supports the WEforum programs by providing access to the camp for free for members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County.

“Our kids have loved the hands-on nature of the camp, like planting seeds in the garden, looking after a beehive, and enjoying the natural fruits and vegetables straight from the garden,” said Douglas Eagles, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club. “It brings concepts to life for our young people, and that is priceless.”

The Montessori method is a holistic approach to education; students of all ages are provided an individualized education based on their own social, academic, physical, and social development. So too is Mastro’s and The Curious Gardener’s approach to environmental education. Environmental education is an integrative discipline that children should be exposed to at an early age. Campers who attend the Curious Gardener’s Summer Camp and Mastro students become environmental stewards and innovators who will protect our planet for generations to come.

For information on the Mastro Montessori Academy Curious Gardener Summer Camp 2022 in partnership with WEforum and Monmouth Medical Center, please contact Kristin DeRose at info@mastromontessori.org or call (732) 219-5400.


Additional Information: Summer Camp Brochure 2022



Clara Borders is the Academy Director at Mastro Montessori Academy in Shrewsbury, NJ and is responsible for the overall functioning of the school with a commitment to ensuring that the academy continues to provide students with an authentic AMI Montessori education. Ms. Borders has her AMI Montessori Certification from The Montessori Institute in Denver, her undergraduate degree in Sociology, and her Master’s degree in Montessori Education. After being in the Montessori classroom for a few years, she began a small Montessori school in Missouri where she served as the Teaching Director for five years, then became the Assistant Director of a large Montessori school in Maryland serving nearly 200 students for over two years before joining Mastro. Throughout her career, Ms. Borders has gained a deep understanding of child development and the value and importance of Montessori education and continues to share her expertise with local Monmouth County families through Mastro Montessori Academy.


Photo Credit Boy: Rawpixel
Photo Credit Mom and Daughter: Antonio_Diaz

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.