Oh Nature, sweet sweet Nature!
If you don’t follow me on Facebook, or you do, and have already decided to block my wildly brilliant status updates (umm…ouch!) you may have missed when I talked about attending a Nature Summit this past weekend!
This particular ‘Nature Summit’ or ‘Hippy Conference’ as my husband so kindly referred to it, was a two and a half day conference at a retreat centre just outside of “The City”. It was geared towards early childhood educators, teaching them to bring children outdoors, and facilitate a love, appreciation and understanding of nature, and the natural world around them!
When I originally signed up for the course, I was still working as a professional Nanny, and had plans to continue some form of childcare after we moved to our new community.
I went to college with one of the girls on the organizing committee, and she really encouraged me to attend. I am so glad that I did!
I arrived bright and early Friday morning large Tim Hortons cup in hand!…. I failed to remember that there likely would be a large number of hippies, who wouldn’t appreciate my wasteful beverage container and I found myself explaining that I live so far from the nearest Tim Hortons, that I don’t make this a habit!… and I promised profusely to recycle it! They still judged!
At registration I was given a large reusable shopping bag, containing my name tag for the weekend (and Lord help us if you weren’t wearing it!) our schedule, some other paperwork, and a shiny new green (my favorite colour!) travel mug…. only 10 minutes too late!
The keynote speaker that morning was a woman who liked to be called Dr. Hoo…. not to be mistaken for Dr. Who! This woman has spent almost her entire adult life studying owls! She made many great points, that seem obvious but I think get overlooked. Things such as Start small, be the guide on the side (allow the children to explore on their own), engage the senses, get your hands dirty, don’t be afraid to fail, make new friends, take time to reflect. and have fun!
Friday and Saturday had 2 workshops each, which you chose from 5 possible sessions! (in total there were 20 to choose from!)
The ones I took were called Growing Up Green, Looking for the Little Things, Fishing, and Edible Science!
All of the sessions were focused on activities that you could do with children and gave us all hands on experience, I took many notes and even though I don’t have any place to implement them now, I am sure they will come in very handy down the road.
Each evening there were a few activities, that included ‘Fox Walking’, where you position your bare feet on the ground outside toes first, and slowly roll your foot down and a Blind Drum Stalk, while blindfolded, and still barefoot you used yours senses and followed the sound, while avoiding obstacles like trees, holes, buildings, tents, and each other! It was a neat experience, but it did make me feel uncomfortable to give up sight in that way!
In the evening we gathered around the campfire and sang songs, of course getting together a bunch of adults who spend their days with children the 1st half included many child friendly classics! After about an hour of that, a few more people grabbed their instruments and started jamming, we sang many more popular songs! It was one of those magical moments that can only come from listening to/participating in live music around a fire!
Saturday morning the Keynote address was made by Severn Cullis-Suzuki, daughter of David Suzuki!!!! She (unlike her father who was publicly criticized for making a HUGE carbon footprint while traveling around promoting saving the environment) stayed in her community in Northern British Columbia, and teleconferenced in to give her speech! She was very passionate, and inspiring. She has 2 young children and gave examples of how she is giving them experiences outdoors. She also talked about her childhood, exploring beaches, and wilderness, even traveling to the Amazon Rain Forrest and living in a small village there. At 9 yrs old she founded a children’s environmental group and really made a difference in her community!
The rest of the weekend included lessons on Risky Play (I will be doing another whole post on this in the future, as I found it completely mind blowing!) and some fun activities like zip lining and archery! (I am a fantastic shot by the way!.. no really I am… here, hold this apple)
At the end of this Nature Summit, I feel like a lot of what was taught as the benefits of children being outdoors more, were reflected in my own feelings and attitudes. I feel more confident in nature, and I am excited to spend more time outside myself! A phrase that was repeated often was: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!”. That really stuck with me. I also feel more aware of what’s around me, and I am not afraid of getting dirty! Although true Canadian fall weather has started to set in, and it can be chilly, there is no harm in going for a short walk sans shoes and socks, to really experience the outdoors near me!
I have taken away with me many ideas that I think will influence my nephew, my own future children, and any other kids that are in my care! I hope to inspire a love of the outdoors and nature with them… and I will always try to remember my reusable travel mug!
Now I’m not going to admit to how many days it’s been since my last shower…. but I can’t stand the smell of myself any longer, so on that note, I hope you took away something from this post, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask, I feel like I’m overflowing with information that I just can’t put everything here!
-The Country Bumpkin