Getting to the roots of it all...
Why Forest Camp?
Why not?! We all feel great and sleep better with a good dose of fresh air and outdoor play! Since the 50’s Forest Kindergarten has been growing around the world, mostly in European countries, but slowly trickling over to North America as we expand our views on how education can look and our pedagogical practices follow. The research surrounding bringing children outside to learn on the land with their hands and bodies and experiencing connections in nature with peers has been studied at great length. Connection with the land doesn’t happen through just one or two visits to a particular location but instead through repeated and frequent visits to the same place in nature with extended amounts of time for children to release inhibitions, let their minds wander, and fully engage with the landscape and natural materials around them.
As technology and the busyness of life take a stronger hold on our younger generations, our need to get outside and un-busy our children is essential. Thinking back to your own childhood, remember the smell of the soil in spring, the taste of the tree that had sap oozing out, the feeling of grit under your nails and most importantly, that place that you went to in your mind that was safe and different from anywhere else in the adult world. In his book ‘The Last Child in the Woods’ Richard Louv states “In nature, a child finds freedom, fantasy, and privacy; a place distant from the adult world, a separate place.” Learning with the Land Program aims to give children the space and time to make connections, build confidence, and enjoy the freedom of being a kid.
Our goal of establishing the Learning with the Land Program is to allow children to access the land frequently, fostering a connection with nature, their peers and most importantly themselves. Through risky play, they learn to trust their instincts, know their boundaries, and vocalize their needs. Children build confidence using tools such as saws, axes, knives, and hammers and learn to use them as tools with a purpose. Other important areas of risky play include but are not limited to, tree climbing, stick play, campfires, exploring near water, hiking, running in forests, playing on exposed and sometimes slippery rock, and fort building. Supervisors' roles are to communicate with children, support their decision-making, and mitigate unnecessary risks involved. Believe it or not, the more frequently children are exposed to these natural hazards, the safer they become! Let’s get outside, climb some trees and get messy!