Our day camp will be a regular one day a week program, ran during term time for a mixed age group of 0-17 year olds. Built on the ethos of Nature Play we get the children out and about every week, in all weather. We teach them to be aware of nature, the seasons, animals and insects. We help them grab their natural awe for nature and understand that we are part of it and that we must care for it.
Our program is built on a Steiner inspired ethos mixed with Coyote Mentoring techniques. More can be read about these methods via our ‘Mentoring Style’ page.
The mixed age really helps develop the different aspects of our children as the young have bigger kids to look up to, and the older children have younger ones to look after and lead. Our mentors guide the group through a strong rhythm each week, and each participant will be expected to carry their own water bottle, lunch and any spare jacket or clothes they may need.
This is only a small amount to carry, but the little ones are so proud to be given this responsibility, they cherish it. We will also each find our very own personal walking stick. This stick is not only useful for walking but also for games and activities and helps stop the class picking up a new stick every week from the wild, reducing our impact on the environment. These simple things help build a child’s resilience, provides responsibility and demonstrates that whilst this is fun, there is also work, but that work isn’t always bad. The older kids also benefit from this resilience building and can act as a good example to the younger ones who so want to be like them.
The children start each day with a morning circle where they greet each other and connect with the group and the space. After a quick check to ensure all is in order they are taken on a bushwalk through some dense forest, alongside a creek, over a bridge, through some mud and out in another part of the facility where there is a wonderful natural playground for them to swing and climb and run and jump to their hearts content.
After approaching base-camp for morning tea, we engage in our first activity, whether that be a multi-age game, or some earth arts and sometimes also separating the group into age groups to work on more specific skills. After this we return to base-camp to share lunch around the fire. A story is told and the little ones can retire to hammocks for nap time. For the older children or those who do not nap there is a second activity such as weaving, clay work, rope making and so forth…all good bush crafts with natural materials found on the site. After this we gather for a closing circle, the camp is packed away and the children are led on a shorter route back to where they started to meet their parents and be taken home.
Throughout this day our mentors sing and play with the children, but the children largely guide the flow of the day with their interests and emotions. What has changed today from last week? Is there a new animal to see today? Our team is trained to guide rather than instruct and help the natural curiosity of the children pique their own interest and let them discover nature for themselves.
Some activities will be too advanced for our younger children, and this is when the group may be split for an hour or so while the older ones are taken aside for some more detailed training, such as compass or tool use, firecraft etc. The younger ones may go for a walk, or do some appropriate arts, crafts or story time, before re-joining each other to share what they have been doing.
This rhythm and style of guiding and mentoring helps children become at home in the wilderness, it makes them comfortable and helps them understand. The walk and having to carry their own things gives them pride and helps build resilience and with this comfort, pride and resilience comes self-confidence and a fundamental respect for nature and all her creatures.