Archive for December, 2010

Reconnect With Your Sense of Wonder

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Sanborn Western Camps Nature Assessment System

With the Children and Nature Network’s release of their Annual Report, those of us at camp are energized by the direction and momentum of the entire Children in Nature movement.  Because of our dedicated work, we are seeing an explosion of information, activities, legislation, and nation-wide research that is shifting the cultural paradigm back to carefree, nature and play based childhood experiences.

Camp is just one opportunity to get kids outdoors, but it is a powerful one because it cements the lessons learned in the natural world with a sense of independence and self-efficacy.  We have always believed that our counselors should be “nature counselors”—and our staff training reflects that belief.

One tool we utilize with our staff is our Nature Assessment System—a mnemonic which helps teach staff and children to not only utilize ALL of their senses in the outdoors, but also helps them develop their sixth sense: the sense of Wonder.

As we enter into this season of wonder, excitement, magic, travel, and adventure we hope you will all take a moment to be IN the moment outside with your friends and family.  We hope you will take the time to savor the outdoor experience and reconnect with the sense of wonder and promise that has helped shape and define you.  And, more than anything, we hope you will share that wonder of the natural world with a child.

So ask lots of questions—like Why?, keep your eyes Open, remember a few Nature nuggets, have some Deep thoughts, consider the Environment, and remember to Relax and enjoy the moment.

Additional Note:

If you are a passionate advocate for the Children in Nature movement—please consider visiting the Children and Nature Network to learn more about starting your own family nature club, joining the Natural Teachers or Natural Leaders network, or by becoming a founding member of their Friends of Children in Nature.

Over the years, Colorado Outdoor Education Center and Sanborn Western Camps have been blessed with generous donations from friends, parents, staff and alums to The Sandy and Laura Sanborn Scholarship Fund.   In 2010, this fund provided 100 scholarships to campers and 85 scholarships to outdoor education students to help create that essential connection with the natural world which meant so much to Laura and Sandy Sanborn back in 1948—and is even more important today.

Wordless Wednesday Wisdom

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey-

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” -Edward Abbey-

Ariella and the Wild Animals

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Hanging up the "Carrot Chain"

Two of our favorite winter and holiday season children’s books are Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett and The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes. Using the beautiful weather and our multiple readings over the last week as inspiration, the boys and I went out this weekend to create/decorate an “animal tree” to help the animals celebrate the holidays with some special treats. Little did I know it would become a rather “special treat” and a memorable story of outdoor adventure for all of us.

We sat on the ground and hung apple slices on string loops, made a rather unique “carrot chain”, and spent most of the afternoon slathered with peanut butter from the peanut butter birdfeeders we made. After my sons rolled some “peanut butter balls” under the car (“Rolling peanut butter balls under the car is a good choice if we were actually looking to adopt a small fuzzy animal as an in-vehicle mascot—but it is a bad choice when we are trying to sell the car”) and playing a long game of “keep the pinecone away from the dog”—we carried all of our completed treasures out to our chosen animal tree.

In Annie and the Wild Animals, Annie is looking for a new pet (her cat, Taffy, has disappeared)—and hopes that by leaving homemade corn cakes at the edge of the wood, an appropriately fuzzy pet will arrive and cure her loneliness. In The Christmas Cat, an abandoned cat is rescued by a nameless, highly compassionate man who arrives in the woods bearing gifts of food for all

The Birds are REALLY Excited

of the woodland creatures.

As we decorated the animal tree, our conversation turned toward the similarities of the two books and we came up with these take-aways:
• Cats are THE pet to have (“Mom, please! We really NEED a cat!”)
• Woodland animals really like people food (“just like Sula!”-our dog)
• Animals like surprises, too
• Being lonely isn’t very fun

Yet, just like the cosmic irony that kept attracting every giant creature of the woods to Annie’s corn cakes, I discovered the very next morning that—no matter what the books say—when you get up and go outside, amazing things happen.

Early the next day, by the light of Orion’s belt and nothing else, my people-food-eating dog and I set out for a run—and this is where I realized some of our take-aways were slightly off:
• Dogs are THE pet to have…especially when there are giant animals in your yard
• Woodland animals really DO like people food—A LOT

Animal Tree in Progress

• Animals DON’T really like surprises
• Being alone in the dark might actually be better than being alone in the dark with a lot of other really large wild creatures which are big enough to make your people-food-eating dog bark in a way that makes you think YOU are about to BE “people-food.”

So the animal tree was a success, AND I incorporated some wind-sprints into my early morning routine. After sharing my tale of crashing elk (or something) in our yard, my son said, “Wow! Now we need to get MORE animals to come! We need to get some salmon for the bears, some meat for the coyotes, more carrots for the rabbits, some

hay for the deer, more seeds for the mice, and ……”

….maybe another dog.

-Post by Ariella Rogge