Week 2 Letter, 2017
It’s the end of our second week of camp, the theme of which was The Turtle’s Back.
We explored turtles and earth stories through many of our activities. We know that turtles move slowly and live a long time. Maybe there is something there for all of us to think about.
It was a good week for quotable quotes:
- “The good thing is I am no longer shy about singing.”
- A camper while climbing: “I was very afraid, but then a ladybug landed on me and gave me all the courage I needed.”
- On a hike and seeing a tree that had fallen into a stream, a camper exclaimed, “I just hope the fishes are OK.”
- “I’m a curious kid and I’m proud of it.”
- A young camper: “You want to see something really, really dear?”
- From a parent: “The last two days when my kids got in the car they started to fight, and I liked it. They couldn’t wait to tell me about their day.”
- During friendship bracelet making on bus 11: Camper 1: “Excuse me, we need the scissors; she is cutting it with her teeth and I’m afraid they are going to fall out.” Camper 2: “It doesn’t really matter, most of them are baby teeth!”
- An 8 year old boy during garden: “Fairies always tickle when they land on the back of my neck!”
- A camper going into the the Arts Building for the Songs Around the Campfire program on Thursday evening was overheard saying to her Mom: “Do you want me to tell you how to look for trolls?”
There are also kids who are just not very talkative:
- “How was camp today?” — “Good.”
- “Did anything special happen at camp today?” — “Not really.”
- “You were looking forward to the day hike. How was it?” — “OK.”
Other answers to your questions might be “Fine” or “Yeah.”
I think some children live so much in the present moment that what they did four hours ago is now gone, their brain and body are now somewhere else.
Our program and activity areas were real busy this week working with your campers. Here’s a glimpse into some of what they did.
In celebration of the Turtle’s Back week, younger campers acted as a wide array of animals (including the turtle of course!) during their time with Drama Jon. We also sang about pizza in three different languages, and tried to make each other laugh by being as silly as possible.
Outdoor Skillz: campers learned the proper uses and safety procedures for working with knives. They also began to carve their own bow drill fire-making kits.
Games: this week at games we explored elements of marine ecology specifically pertaining to turtles and their environments. Younger groups learned through parachute play while older groups discovered through more active means. It was a week of fun learning and energy expenditure!
Art: this week the younger kids made beautiful, turtle-shaped sun catchers with pressed ferns and wild flowers. Older kids pressed large leaves into clay and marveled at the beautiful lines left in the clay. They made little rock turtles to sit on their leaf and some even turned the whole leaf into a turtle. Peeling back the leaf was a magical moment, a lot of quiet “wow’s” were heard.
Cooking: we honored the traditions of this land by preparing a grain salad with ingredients native to the Americas. Campers made a Turtle Island Salad (Wild Rice Salad). All the greens and herbs were picked by campers in our garden.
Chickens: we collected and washed eggs and then delivered them to the kitchen, as well as fed the chickens and filled their water bins.
Nature: we dug out the non-compost-able items from the composting experiment from last week and observed the new sprouts that were growing. We collected tree “seeds”, from the forest to plant in the compost experiment and will watch to see if any of them sprout during camp. We still hunted on the fairy stream bridge, walked in the forest, observed trees, water striders, birds, and more.
Drama Janet: we talked to each other through our backs and also took turns being turtle and shell. Also completing our pair activities, we showed our partners any weird tricks we could do and then inhabited our favorite animals interacting with different kinds of turtles, We created our own versions of the tale of the Turtle’s Back, with one group creating a mutant troll Trolltle (troll/turtle). The younger groups explored the inside of the turtle’s shell by going into the underside of a silk parachute.
Garden: we gathered around the storytelling candle in the garden fire circle and heard the Tale of the Three Sisters – about how corn, beans, and squash help each other to grow in many different ways. Many groups harvested green peppers, lettuce, mustard greens, tot choi, basil, parsley, and cilantro to use in their cooking activity. Campers planted beans, greens mix, and peas, transplanted collards and tomatoes, and tackled building up our compost piles with big garden tools! Weeding fun was had by all! We watered the both the veggie sprouts and human sprouts with the garden hose!
Snoopy!: this week we learned a brand-new Turtle Round! We also sang some old songs in new ways – silly voices, animal (especially turtle) voices, and more.
Outragehisss Pets: We chilled with a chinchilla, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a blue tongued skink, a ball python, and the second largest rodent in the world.
Hobbies this week included archery, chickens, climbing, farm, magic, how to start your own garden, nature jewelry, skit-builders, tortellini from scratch, turtle back riders adventures, turtle terrariums, wild-food foraging, and making paddle boats.
The ice came back! The weather from mid-week on was hot, humid, and sticky. Instead of bemoaning that fact (it is summer, after all) we turn to the ice, 25 pound blocks of it. We hang these blocks from net bags up in trees. To get cool, campers stand underneath the melting ice and are immediately refreshed by glacially cold drops of water on their neck, face, wrists. Some ice blocks are not hung but are placed on the ground. A small amount of water-based paint is poured on top of the ice block and we watch as the colors flow down the inside channels of the ice. The result looks like a beautiful chunk of icy rainbow.
I found myself smiling when bringing groups back to our main campus after exploring the forest. We would see in the courtyard many ice blocks that were not there before, a camper sitting on each one. Each camper appearing calm, cool and relaxed, as if he or she does this every day!
Our third week’s theme is Bee a Little Boulder. I’m hoping to do something courageous. Maybe for your camper(s) this could be climbing a little higher on our climbing tree, tasting a food they’ve been leery of, or staying for an overnight trip. We’ll certainly be busy bee-ing, buzzing, and building, and perhaps we’ll even see a ‘boulder pageant’, where we can vote as to which glacial erratic is the most unique (it will most certainly end up a tie).
In games we will bee getting a little boulder through lots of water play and honey bee ecology all tied into one!
In art we will be exploring the life of bees through working with bee’s wax! Campers will make beautiful wax luminaries and candles.
We will do some bold cooking next week: campers will make green salad using salad greens from the garden (including some spicy ones, edible weeds and edible flowers). We will also explore the flavor of an unusual root vegetable, parsnip.
In some of our nature activities we’l be acting out and learning about the social life of bees… and then take a close look at flowers with our magnifying lenses.
In drama we will be very busy bees, working together in our groups and following orders from our Queen. We will discover the secret language of the bees.
In the garden next week we will magically turn our food scraps, leaves, and grass clippings into compost for the garden and learn how to make potting soil to start baby plants!
Snoopy! next week will be singing bee pun songs: I’m a BEE-liever, Don’t Stop BEE-lieving, the BEE-tles, and much more.
Next week also brings us into the heart of our busy camping and hiking trip season. Cedar pond canoeing overnights commence, with the older half of our groups each getting to spend two days camped out next to beautiful Lake Tiorati in Harriman Park, practicing their canoeing skills off of this wonderfully wooded peninsula. In addition to our cedar pond overnights four groups will have onsite overnights and two groups will venture out on backpacking trips. Four groups will go on day hikes, spending a day in the woods rather than at camp, group Q will spend a day building trails (which we’ll perhaps get to walk upon later in the summer!), and four groups will enjoy a day sailing on the sloop Clearwater along the Hudson River.
The barefoot zone returns during our 5th week of camp! During this activity we shed shoes, liberate our feet, declare foot freedom day, and allow our toes and soles to really feel the world! When your child’s group visits the barefoot zone they’ll step into or on such items as rice, beans, ice blocks, peat moss, tree bark, cactus (only kidding!), clay, bird seed, jello (different colors) and more.
Farm and Garden Days
August 11th – 25th, 9 am – 4 pm.
This two week program immediately follows our sixth and last week of The Nature Place. Our activities during this time focus on learning, playing, and working in the gardens and up at the farm. Campers will participate in the full life cycle of growing food – planting seeds, transplanting small plants, weeding, pruning, harvesting, and composting organic matter back into nourishing soil. We’ll make sun-teas, salads, salsa, and most deliciously, cob-oven baked pizza, the ingredients picked and processed by campers throughout the week. At the farm we’ll milk cows, groom horses, collect chicken eggs, and work in some of the larger fields harvesting onions, beets, carrots, and more.
If you’re interest, act now! Week one of Farm and Garden Days is full, week two will be soon.
Thank you for participating (albeit vicariously) in this wonderfully full second week of camp with us. There’s no where else I’d rather be.
Until next week,