Our first 10 week session has finished and we feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude: to the people who've supported this project in spirit, through volunteering, financially or other resources. To the Canyon Lister Elementary School for being incredibly welcoming, warm and enthusiastic. To the parents for signing up--knowing you'd be stuffing backpacks with spare clothes and fiddling with mitts and boots, and then what to do with muddy wet kids in your car at the end of the session?!
20 days in the forest with the children and we have beautiful memories for life. This week we 'discovered' some new benches (thank you CLES Gr.7's!!) and enjoyed sitting and taking in the scenery from a new perspective.
This week we also asked the question, 'What if we were playing and encountered a big animal? Our forest is small, fenced and surrounded by farm/fields, and we send an adult down to 'sweep' the forest before we go in. So an encounter would be highly unlikely. Still, the children might be out camping or hiking with their families one day and knowledge/practice is useful. Our game went like this: someone pretended to be a bear just ambling around, and the kids were busy 'playing.' When the bear was noticed, everyone moved together in a big clump to 'make ourselves look big,' with arms up in the air. We talked loudly but calmly to the 'bear,' and started walking slowly backwards away from the 'animal.' We'll keep practicing and role playing!
Mary-Jean (our volunteer pictured here) looked like a fall leaf in her beautiful sweater! The children were picking berries and making snowberry soup. A few of us noticed piles of half-eaten snowberries on stumps, and we wondered who was eating just the seeds, and leaving the white parts?
Creating birchbark bookmarks (say that 10 times fast!)
The children arrived on Thursday ready to run, run, run. We've mentioned it before, but children and adults regulate their body temperatures differently. A hand on the head of any of these children, and you could feel the heat emanating out. Jackets when on and off, on and off, on and off today according to activity level and whether it was raining. We are finding our way with this, as facilitators. When we're standing around in our down coats, and the kids have stripped off their layers, it can be nerve wracking to wonder if it's too much freedom. We trust they are learning independence and decision making as we discuss what to wear. No one wants to freeze.
A favourite digging spot.
They might be hatching a plan. It might have to do with how one child can hear her 'super hero tree friends calling for help!'
On Thursday parents came down to the Tipi for a farewell send-off, and we shared tea and muffins. The children were stoked to share their 'sit spots' with their parents, and to take them around the forest. As everyone hugged and waved goodbye, we felt a bit teary--and happy to realize that a great community is growing!