Warm thoughts in January:
Following my community organizer days in the domestic Peace Corps (VISTA), I taught in a one-room rural schoolhouse in Appalachia, with twenty two children, ages five to nineteen. These mountain children demonstrated the effectiveness of mixed-age learning.
Each day they brought forth an eagerness to learn, teach, and play with one another. I was touched by them and their parents. This experience inspired me to get my Masters in Education, to learn more about the learning process, with the goal of returning to East Kentucky.
I recently celebrated that teaching experience by "bartering" with one of Nature Camp's children, Sadie O'neill. She was interested in an old wooden butter churn, a multiple candle maker, and other antiques at my home. As her father, Scott, was restoring my 1801 home, Sadie spent many days and evenings painting the large folk art mural on the dining room wall, depicting a one room school in a mountain setting. She even included a log swing set that the father of one of my students helped me build. At NC's annual Staff Holiday Gathering, we had an "spotlight unveiling" of Sadie's remarkable painting. What a wonderful celebration it was -- both of Sadie's creation, and the coming together of the NC Staff, renewing acquaintances, and joyfully talking about plans for this summer and many more.
||I celebrate Sadie's folk art mural with you, as it represents so
much: a life changing experience; an unwavering knowledge
of what encouraged me to create effective learning environments,
like Nature Camps and Whispering Oaks Schoolhouse; and my continued
desire to continue my own professional learning, as I recently completed
my Masters in Marriage and Family
The coming summer of 2008 will be Nature Camps' thirty-fourth summer providing
enriching experiences for children and families!
With our ongoing land fund raising efforts and your continued support, Nature
Camps will secure the 226 acre property and continue for another thirty-four
Summary of NC Staff Holiday Gathering:
There was a point when we were all sitting in the room eating, and I just observed everyone talking, smiling, glowing with joy, and I had a "I am living in the moment" moment. Everything felt just as is should be. I felt at peace. I realized I would remember that moment forty years from now.
I also realized that the reason Nature Camps is so magical, the reason why the counselors are so passionate, the reason why children continue to return year after year, is because we educate the whole person. Everyone is given the freedom to muse, ponder, question, touch, smell. The inner spirit is fed. Thus, we feel more connected to ourselves and each other.
Nature Camp is family, and I think that is a common bond and feeling that we all have. No matter what, we share in that magic, and we will always have each other.
--- Brooke Pearson
P.S. Sliding down the banister was pretty awesome!
Finding the Right Camp:
What a delight it was to see Nature Camps, Inc. so well presented in the Jewish Times Camp Guide I this month. Camp parent Simone Ellin writes a great article about helping parents find the camp that is the right fit for their children. Note that four Nature Camps' campers are featured in Andy Cook's wonderful photos. Check out pages 12-14.