Autumn in the Woods Was a Terrific Success!
The morning was spent creating a woodsy garden on the bare bank under the new sign. Parents, children, counselors, and friends talked about a design for the new garden. Wild violets and winter pansies were planted on the level space just in front of the stone wall. We dug up cinnamon and Christmas ferns, adding them along the top, sides, and bottom of the hillside. More wild violets and the adjacent ivy were planted on the sloping hillside. (An older fellow came back on Sunday to meet with the sign leprechauns. Together they planted more wild violets and laid down pine mulch.)
Everyone piled into the back of the NC pick-up truck to celebrate all of our hard work, slowly driving on the winding dirt roads to the horse stables at Camp Puh'tok. We met Claudia from Camp Puh'tok who was grooming the horses. We gave apples to Lewis and Clark (horses) and explored the old caboose. Then we headed back to Nature Camps for lunch and a relaxing time on the many swings.
Several more families came for the afternoon. Everyone headed down to the Ropes Courses. Parents and teens carried down sign posts, post hole diggers, and tamping bar. Counselors and parents spotted at the Lower Ropes Course. Other parents and teens dug and set the spotting sign posts and photographed children climbing on the seventeen circular elements.
Don presented parents with group problem solving initiatives at the Upper Ropes Course. See the photos, slide show, and parent reflections.
There was something special about children observing and listening to their parents solve the pretend scenarios -- both the actual physical and psychological accomplishments as well as what was shared afterwards when everyone talked about what they had just done.
Parents were eager to have their children take part in solving later group initiatives.
Reflections on Autumn in the Woods
I had a wonderful time in the woods admiring the leaves changing color, enjoying the coziness of a flannel shirt on a chilly day, and the warmth of fellow nature campers (big and little). I found the ropes course challenges we experienced to be interesting and very revealing. While at the ropes course "lava crossing challenge", I found myself hanging back, not getting involved as much as I might once have. It occurred to me that as a mother I am challenged each and every day to plan and organize others, (not an easy task for me to say the least). There are always problems to be solved, tasks to manage and new plans of action to put into place. As my children have grown, I find myself guiding them to solve their own problems that often have more than one solution. Sitting back and letting others solve the ropes course challenge and organize the approach was a welcome respite for me, relaxing, enjoyable, almost indulgent. I think I may have gotten a glimpse of my future.
I wanted to thank you for the invitation and experience we enjoyed that beautiful Sunday afternoon. As I thought back on the day I realized that it was the first time in all my years at NC that I spoke up in the "circle". There have been many times when I had words to share but no courage to voice my thoughts. The creative exercises you challenged us with and even more the cooperative response of the group spoke volumes to me about the quality care and education our children receive each and every summer session. The fact that I was surrounded by like minded parents just added to the overall sense of enjoyment and well being I went home with that night.
Thank you so much for providing the opportunity for us "grown ups" to be big kids on the ropes course. I loved the opportunity to respond to a challenge whose solution relied on integrating physical objects and interpersonal action. When I fell off one of the boards (on my first attempt at crossing "lava") and landed on the soft, damp earth, I laughed out loud. I was delighted to see my daughters so entertained by my antics (and those of others). Even more importantly, I was pleased that my daughters got to see me fall off (fail); laugh; and carry on.
Later, trying to traverse the ever widening cable chasm with my 6 year old daughter (whose size was quite mis-matched to mine), Laura and I grew increasingly amazed how far we progressed. I was pleased that it was I who fell off first-and then we both enjoyed her progressing to the end of the cable.
My favorite picture is the one of Laura's hands brimming with worms.
Christine M. Layton