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.