Wild Things at Cedar Haven
by Jacoba Buist (Environmental Educator – ON)
What do a bowl full of minnows, a nest-box of house wren eggs, and a slice of a tree trunk have in common?
These are all Wild Things! Wild Things day camp gives kids an opportunity to engage with all sorts of wonderful “wild things” – like little fish, native birds and tall trees – in an up-close and personal way. — Through hands-on exploration and discovery (and something we like to call the “Nature Encounter”) kids can experience creation in deep and meaningful ways.
A Wild Things day includes different practices that encourage deep and meaningful experiences in nature: playing games, adventuring, quiet time, and sharing gratitude. But most important of all is the Nature Encounter, where we get to directly interact with a piece of the natural world.
Imagine peeking into a bird’s nest, fishing minnows out of a trap, discovering pond gunk through a microscope, observing bumble bees in a vial, or counting rings on a tree trunk…
The closer we get to nature, the more we are able to build relationships with the wild things around us. Instead of just seeing them as part of the landscape, these creatures become alive in our minds.
In his book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv asks,
“Can we teach children to look at a flower and see all the things it represents: beauty, the health of an ecosystem, and the potential for healing?”
At Wild Things we strive to do just that; to get kids close enough to nature that they begin to see it in a new way, and to encourage deeper and more meaningful relationships with all the wild things that we share our place with.
Interested in learning more about the rhythms and practices at Wild Things? A typical day looks something like this:
- Circle Time: We check in with one another and discuss the theme of the day (birds, amphibians, fish, etc.)
- Play Time: We learn about our theme through engaging games, crafts and experiments.
- Lunch Time: Very important – although the kids always seemed to want to rush through this one to get on to more adventures!
- Nature Encounter: The climax of the day- a time for us to see a wild thing really close up. A crucial moment to the Wild Things program.
- Adventure: The kids lead us in exploring the habitats of Cedar Haven! We catch bugs in the meadow or frogs in the pond, we use binoculars to find birds, we trudge through the mosquito-infested forest to find salamanders under fallen trees, or lose our shoes in the mud of the creek.
- Quiet Time: A space to cement the learning that has happened throughout the day through a story, drawing pictures, or writing in our Nature Journals.
- Gratitude Circle: We take time to be grateful for the things we learned, the adventures we went on, and the wild things we met.