Archive for September, 2012

Be a Part of the Grand Coalition

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Outdoor Play for ALL!

Here at Sanborn Western Camps, we are “cutting edge” when it comes to youth development, programming, and our mission-centric goals.  We also attempt to be cutting edge when it comes to innovative, new technologies.  Attempt is the right word.

We are pretty good with Facebook, decent on Twitter, and are mastering (and enjoying) the finer points of Pinterest and Instagram.  Though you will find us on Google+ and LinkedIn, the posts there might not be exactly cutting edge.  They will be VERY P.E. (Pre-Evacuation).

That is the challenge of technology for those of us who deeply believe in unplugging…for days, and often months at a time.  Even though we can’t keep up with all the methods of delivery, we try to keep on top of the message, and Google Alerts is the perfect platform.

Over the last 3-4 years we have had a Google Alert that is looking for “children in nature.”  At first, there were always articles and posts that began or contained, “in the nature of children.”  But today, when we checked, there were 5 different articles from all over the world that expressed the importance of getting children outside.

From Vancouver, David Suzuki writes, “Families play a key role in getting kids outside.”  In a survey, “youth were 20 percent more likely to take part in outdoor programming or explore nature on their own if they spent time outside from an early age.”  For him, unstructured play in the outdoors allows children and teens to connect with their families and the natural world in a way that increases stewardship and global health and stability.

On the other side of the pond, Mike Collins shares that “making nature part of children’s everyday experience is a simple and effective way of plugging them into the world around them.”  He sees both families and schools as integral parts of keeping children connected to the natural world.

Then there are the events: at the Houston Arboretum there is an experiential, nature-based family Halloween event; at the Redlands Conservancy in CA, the kick-off to their fall hiking series is a “Kids’ Day Outdoors” to get families outside together; in Lincolnshire, UK, a “Prey-Se” Nature Day on a local farm hopes they are “developing awareness and encouraging our younger generations to appreciate the importance of such places;” and, at High Trails Outdoor Education Center, this Saturday is our No Child Left Inside Family Fun Day.  All of these activities and events, many sponsored by local grassroots organizations and run

Thanks to Richard Louv, and the efforts of the Children and Nature Network, the benefits of getting children (and adults) into the natural world are being recognized—and celebrated—around the globe.

So take some IRL time with the natural world this weekend…it’s a trending topic that is sure to have your friends pinning your weekend photos and nature activities for weeks to come!

Nature Activity: Nature Scavenger Hunt

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

This looks SCARY!!!

At High Trails Outdoor Education Center, students experience the natural world through role play and hands-on activities. One of our students’ favorite activities comes during their first Discovery Group: Setting the Mood.

The Nature Scavenger Hunt is facilitated by the high school counselors, many of whom have attended our HTOEC Leadership Day. The goal is to help the students begin to see interrelationships in the natural world, as well as to help them slow down and help them truly “see” (and understand) the natural world all around them.

Here is what the students will be looking for:

HTOEC Nature Scavenger Hunt
Something red in nature
Something scary
The oldest thing you can find
The youngest thing you can find
Something you can feel but cannot see
Something with a smooth texture
Something with a rough texture
Something beautiful
Something amazing
Two seeds
A piece of litter
Evidence of an animal
Three different kinds of grass
Something that makes a noise
Something humans could not live without
Something natural that has no purpose

Once the group has found all the items, the high school counselors will facilitate a short wrap-up discussion to allow the students to share their discoveries. Some of the questions the counselors may ask are: What do all the objects have in common? How are they interrelated? Would a dog be able to find something red? Would a bat be able to hear the same things we found which made a noise? What else could a bat hear? What things would animals be able to find better than we can?

These questions help the student begin to recognize that our senses help us experience the natural world in rare and unique ways—and that our sixth sense, our sense of wonder, allows us to understand, appreciate and celebrate our connection to nature.

What do YOU look for when you are out in the natural world?

Retro-Education: Engage the Sense of Wonder, Ignite the Passion to Learn

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Discovering Fossils...and Wonder

On a recent trip to North Carolina, I was delighted to see the first day of school for the 15 students of the new Water’s Edge Charter School located in the old two-room Corolla schoolhouse on the grounds of the Whalehead Club in Corolla, NC.  The school house has sat unused for the last 50 years, while students in Corolla and other parts of the Northern Outer Banks were bused into neighboring Currituck County schools on the mainland.  This meant some students were sitting on a bus for almost three hours a day.

On their first day of school, the students were catching dragonflies (and sometimes each other) and learning about insect behaviors and their importance in the food chain.  Observing the class at a distance, you could tell some students were deeply interested in the scientific facts…while others just wanted to chase a few more dragonflies.  But all were engaged, and all were excited.  Most exhilarating of all, even though they lived in the area, they had never really “seen” a dragonfly.

As we move into our 2012 High Trails Outdoor Education season, our staff finds it so exciting to be able to open those same doors of wonder to our own local and regional students.  When students learn through experience that ants taste lemony and Ponderosa Pines smell like butterscotch (or vanilla or cream soda), the next natural question they ask is “why?”  The teacher then becomes an educational facilitator, adding layers of value and interest to the active, engaged mind of a student who is motivated to learn for learning’s sake.

Nature is a compelling teacher, and a lifetime of wonder and curiosity about the world is the reward.

We can’t wait for our students to arrive!