Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Nature Camp














There are a few things happening behind the scenes at our little homestead, most of which I can't share yet, but one of the things I can share is the small summer nature camp I am hosting this summer. I have been wanting to do this for a while, but various things have always gotten in the way, so when a friend, who was interested in the nature camp, asked if I would watch her two girls one day a week for the month of July, I said yes.

The girls are joining Reece and I on Thursday's for the month, and we are doing a little nature camp. I am using it as a trial, seeing how well it works, and if all goes well, I will open it up next summer to a few more kids. Since this is hosted at our home, I don't have plans for it to be huge, I am thinking no more than four kids plus Reece.

So just what did we get up to last Thursday, on our first day of camp. The kids enjoyed a little bit of free play when they arrived, as I finished baking a loaf of banana bread for their morning snack. Once the banana bread was cooling, I headed outside and took a little walk around the garden. I didn't ask them to join me, but knew they would. Questions were asked about what was growing, and could they try it. So we picked food, and herbs and had a little tasting session. Flowers, of course, were also picked, and arranged by little hands in vases to go home. I then brought the kids inside and set them up with some blocks and one at a time they joined me at the sewing machine where they each sewed their own nature journal, with a little help from me. They enjoyed their snack, and then we were off to adventure in the woods. While we walked the kids had fun making nature bracelets, and were overjoyed to find a very large patch of wild strawberries. They picked and ate, enjoying those little jewels of sweetness. As we walked through the woods we talked about some of the flowers they noticed, learned what poison ivy looks like, harvested dandelion greens for our smoothie, checked milkweed leaves for monarch eggs, collected bits of nature to bring home, and wandered along the trails with smiles on our faces. I asked them to keep their eyes open for something they might like to draw in their new nature journals, and when we got home they started drawing, while I whipped up some smoothies. A little more free play, and then lunch on the back deck. While we ate lunch I had rocks in the oven, heating up, and once the lunch dishes were done and put away we gathered some crayons and sat on the back deck drawing on the hot rocks. If you haven't done this before, I highly recommend it. I myself found it very meditative, and if the calm, quiet and focus of the three kiddos was any indication, they also found it meditative. Of course this activity requires close supervision, and we did have a little causality, but a quick soak in some ice water, a bit of my magic homemade, herbal healing salve, and a band-aid fixed it up pretty well. As the rocks cooled, the kids played, and I made popcorn. They snacked on popcorn, and shared some with the chickens, who were quite pleased about that. Together, we then wandered the yard, picking little pieces of nature. They didn't know why, I just told them to look for leaves or flowers that they liked. We gathered on the back deck, arranged our bits of nature and then transferred them to sun paper, and made sun prints. Reece had done this before, but it was new for the girls, and they loved it. As the sun prints dried on the line, the kids played a little more, and then it was time to go home. I think the fact that they didn't want to go home was a good sign.

I can't even begin to tell you how much fun I had. It was a wonderful day, filled with wonder and awe, and a little bit of magic. I fell into bed that evening tired and happy. I am so looking forward to camp this week, and have some pretty awesome things planned. I think I just might be enjoying summer nature camp as much as the kids.

52 comments:

  1. If I were closer I would be begging to attend you summer camp. You are amazing Kim and are always doing the coolest things. I love the idea of drawing on hot rocks and it just went on my list
    to do for the week.
    Have fun.

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    1. And I would love to have you attend camp Tracey :)

      Aw, thank you Tracey. I just like to keep things interesting and to have lots of fun with Reece. I think you will love the hot rock drawing, it certainly was fun for us. Enjoy!

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  2. Oh so fun!!! I have images of doing this here one day too. For now I think it'll be fun to do just with my two little girls. I love the idea of the rock coloring. And we have been wanting to try sun prints for awhile now. You come up with the best ideas Kim! <3

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    1. Thanks Jen. We had a ton of fun, and I hope if you and your girls give any of the activities a go that you have fun too!

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  3. So many wonderful ideas here, and I can just feel the mood of the morning. I can really imagine you shining in this work, and it makes me so happy for you and the children you draw into this space of yours!

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    1. Gosh, thank you my friend. You have no idea how that makes me feel coming from you. I had such a lovely day with these kiddos, and I honestly can't wait to do it again this week. It also feels pretty darn special to know your friend wants you to spend time with their kiddos. Makes my heart so very happy.

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  4. I think that's a great idea for the kids and I think no more than a total of five is perfect however maybe one more for an even number if you wanted to do pairing off adventures, just a thought. Summer is for children and us adults that have a childlike heart.

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    1. You know Karen, I was thinking about that today, and I think you are right, 6 might be a better number. Thanks!

      And yes, agree with you on who summer is for :)

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  5. How very very wonderful! That rock painting sounds amazing. I might have to do that as a special mommy & little miss activity this week! And sun prints. You just reminded me that I have the paper stashed away somewhere. I can't imagine any kid not feeling completely inspired after a day like that. :-) I look forward to hearing more.

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    1. Thanks Yanic! I think you will enjoy it, I certainly did, and the kids were so quiet and focused while we did it. Have fun with it.

      I am pretty sure they had a great day, and I know Reece did. Can't wait to do it again this week :)

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  6. It sounds like a wonderful camp, Kim! This is such a great idea for homeschoolers. I wish we had people here doing this; the only homeschool summer camps I know of are put together by people who are part of certain religious groups together and they aren't open to others. I think your projects sound really fun. We like sun paper a lot here too. :)

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! The funny thing is, these kiddos go to school :) They are off for the summer, and my friend, their mom, was looking for something different for them to do. She knew about my plans for a nature camp, and was disappointed I wasn't doing it this summer, and so we chatted and made it happen for her girls and Reece :)

      I hope to do more things like this on our little homestead, I have many ideas whirling around in my head :)

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  7. Aww, that sounds so wonderful ! I am very intrigued by the first 2 pictures!

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    1. Thanks Carlin. The first photo is one of the girls at the sewing machine, sewing up her nature journal. And the second photo is the three nature journals. They each made their own on the sewing machine, with help from me, and we will use them over the five weeks to draw things we find on our nature walks.

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    2. ok, i see now! and you explained it so clearly :) very cool idea!

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    3. Thanks! I think Reece wants to make your girls one, so they might be getting one in the mail soon :)

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  8. That all looks so much fun! Glad you got to enjoy it too...wish I could sign up! I think an adult version would be a hit too... :)

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    1. I wish you could sign up too my friend :)

      Aha...you know there just might be something happening for adults on our homestead in the future. I will share more in a future letter. xo

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  9. Sounds like my kinda day :-) Enjoy the rest of July, I'm looking forward to next week's update x

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    1. Thanks, we will. I wasn't planning to share each nature camp day, but it seems like everyone has enjoyed this post, so maybe I will. xo

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  10. oh how fun! I think about doing something similar in the summers sometimes since I am off of work for a couple months. something small, 3-5 kids, a mix of art and gardening and nature.... so fun to see you do it and read about the amazing day you had with the kids! we've done the heated rocks with melted wax before and I love it- I had some vintage slate roofing tiles too and we used some of those as well. what a fun project. I'm so glad to hear it all went well! and smoothies, popcorn, and banana bread? I want to come snack at Miss Kim's summer camp! ;)

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    1. It was a lot of fun Amanda. I could totally see you doing something like this, it was a nice mixture of play, crafting, time in the garden, and exploring in the woods, with a little bit of free play thrown in here and there...so awesome!

      That is a great idea with the slate tiles. I think we might have some in the garage, might have to try that one out too!

      You are welcome anytime my friend. xo

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  11. So cool! Looks like you had a great time with some amazing projects! Looking forward to hearing more about these possible plans.

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    1. Thanks, it was a lot of fun. Yes, as soon as the plans have been set in stone I will definitely share :)

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  12. The most interesting thing to me was that you never called them to come do something. Just did it yourself and let them become interested in what you were doing. What a lovely idea Kim!

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    1. Thanks KC! Honestly, it is much easier to capture their attention this way, than to try and call them from whatever they are doing. This way they have a choice...continue what they are doing, which would have been fine, or let curiosity take over and come and check out what I am doing.

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  13. I love this. What fun! My daughter is at a little nature day camp this week. And may be starting a new "forest school" homeschool co-op one day a week in the fall. All of this is so beautiful. Too bad we're too far away to attend :). Best wishes with this, it sounds amazing!

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    1. Thank you! Hope your daughter enjoys her nature camp. And how exciting about the forest school day, always a good time when you gather with others in the woods :)

      Oh how wonderful it would be to have you guys close enough to join us...maybe one day :)

      Thanks!

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    2. Yes, having a group to do it with sometimes makes it more enjoyable and it motivates me to get out more...

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    3. Ah, yes, sometimes we need that little bit of motivation to get us out there. Always helps to have people waiting for you :)

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  14. What a fantastic day. Thanks for sharing the links.
    Thumbs up for more nature camp posts!!

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  15. All these beautiful, fun activities!! I wish I could have come to your nature camp!!

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    1. I wish you could too Summer :)

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  16. wish my kids were still young enough to enrol into your camp!!! You have the best ideas... Have a great day Kim.

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    1. Aw, thanks Erica. Hope you guys are having a great time!

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  17. Could you share how you made the journals? My little one saw the picture and now wants to make one of her own! (And try the other activities you posted about. She thinks it all looks "super fun!" And can't understand why we can't come visit your homestead to have fun there!)

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    1. Hehe, that is too funny. Tell her I think it would be great if she could come to nature camp :)

      So, I used a sheet of paper 8 1/2 by 11, in portrait format. I folded the bottom third up, to create a little pocket they could put nature treasures in. We then sewed along the perimeter of the entire sheet of paper, just to give it a nice finish and secure the pockets. We folded this in half. This is the outside cover. I then cut paper to fit the book, folded the paper in half, and sewed down the center of the paper and the cover, joining the two of them together, and creating the binding for the book. And that's it!

      I hope that makes sense, if not let me know and I can always send you a few photos through email of the process :)

      Have fun!

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    2. Thank you!! That sounds like I could figure out how to make it. Also THANK YOU so much for the postcard you sent!! It made my day when I received it! I am working on something to send off to you soon! :-)

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    3. Cool, have fun!

      You are most welcome, so happy to hear it arrived :)

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  18. Wow, Kim, that all sounds so wonderful. What a great nature camp you have going and it's all things that don't take a ton of supplies - just nature. Love it!

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    1. Thanks Tamara! Nature is pretty awesome :)

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  19. This is really wonderful, Kim!
    What a great way to bring others in on your nature explorations and activities!
    Happy they enjoyed the nature bracelets! xx

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    1. Thanks Dawn! We are having a lot of fun, and I love sharing the great outdoors with others :)

      They loved the nature bracelets, so happy I saw it. Thank you!

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  20. Oh, Kim, this is just one more reason I wish we lived near you! My girls would absolutely love to be part of your nature camp (we *must* make those nature bracelets at some point this summer)!

    We'll be trying the rock project too. Do you have certain crayons that you recommend or will any do?

    Also, you are right to call it "magic healing salve". The containers that you made for us are loved by all and definitely very handy to have in the closet!

    I just love that you are sharing your love of nature in this fashion! What a great experience for the kids and for you! Enjoy! xo

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    1. You must Shel, I know they would love them. I just picked up a pack of crayola and they worked like a charm.

      So happy you guys are enjoying the salves, I love sharing them :)

      Thanks Shel, it feels really wonderful to share this with other kiddos, and I am really enjoying it. xo

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  21. Ooh I've never heard of doing hot rocks, I'm not sure Elma could keep her fingers clear but Kitty would love it, that's definitely one for the next time we need something to perk up the day!

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    1. It was a ton of fun Carie, and I bet Kitty would love it. Have fun when you give it a try :)

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  22. That looks wonderful, Kim! And moreover if you had so much fun... Reece has got a lot of chance :)

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    1. Thanks Sandra. Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow :)

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  23. Sounds great, I can't wait for next week now either! We've never tried the crayons on hot rocks idea, so thank you, we'll give that one a go.

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    1. Thanks Sally. Your girls will love the hot rocks and crayons, and I bet you will too!

      Post coming up on Tuesday with last weeks camp adventures :)

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