Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sunshine in February

It has been a whole month since I posted last-- Oh no! So time flies when you're changing lives :-). These photos were taken two weekends ago, when a whole bunch of us grads got to complete the second part of our great Northwest outdoor ed Instructor Exchange. We got to visit Wilderness Awareness School, a place with rich heritage and legend and magic about it. We slept in tents in a meadow, and woke up to 3 inches of heavy snow laid upon our nylon roofs that Sunday morning. So much could be said about that weekend! But I'll just say that we feel so lucky to have been able to share ideas about how best to get kids out and enjoying nature and feeling empowered because of it.

Just now I've gotten in from meeting my new group of students for the week from the Kitsap Peninsula. My goal today was to be take the time to really get to know the kids, and set up the week really well. So we just hung out at the picnic tables and talked about what we think the whole point of being at IslandWood is. I gave them their shiny new field journals and they decorated and explored them. We talked about the importance of having the right gear and being prepared. And it was really chill and meaningful!

I have been striving for this kind of Day One for a while now; too often I feel that we rush these kids through their orientation day, and they don't get a sufficient chance to get to know this place and feel comfortable here. So I took my time. And I think it worked!! By the time we ventured out onto the trail the kids were so relaxed and joyful.

We brought pond exploration supplies to the shore of Mac's Pond, and ogled at ducks through binoculars and macroinvertebrates through magnifying glasses. We scampered back up the trail to play a game with another group that involved reviving dead trees into new trees with "Light, Air, Water, Soil!" And sadly, finally parted ways until dinner. The sun was bold and bright shining on the Dining Hall Meadow from the West, and a warm breeze wisked by us as we stood in our Affirmation Circle, and I wished we had a little more time to spend together outside this afternoon. As they ran off into their "Bird's Nest" lodge, my group's parent chaperone thanked me for a great day. She told me, "More than once one of the kids looked up at me and said, 'This is so much fun!'". Wow! I thought to myself. I can't wait to hang out with these kids tomorrow.