Winter has come to our Little Creek Nature play site, and it has brought some challenges and joy as enrollment grows. Twenty-seven children are now enrolled, and it is a blessing to get to know every one of them as they get to know each other as they play together. Winter Forest Camp week was a big success!
It has been a fairly wet winter, and we have had some cold spells, but the children have adjusted to wearing the needed extra layers with their parents' support. The children have been especially drawn to our puddle pond resulting from winter rains, and sandy spots created by fall floods. Many mud kitchen creations have been prepared near the puddle and fairy pies and castles have been built in the sand. The children and staff have enjoyed frequent nature walks and building no-trace fires in our pop up fire pit. Hot chocolate is a favorite treat on the coldest mornings, and the Nature Explorers toasted marshmallows and whittled roasting sticks one afternoon. The children have indulged me as I have shared my interest in bird watching with them. Some made bird feeders out of shortening and birdseed covered sticks, and others have compared birdsongs they hear at base camp with those made when pushing the buttons of a birdsong book I shared with them. The Nature Explorers diligently and enthusiastically explored and cleaned up litter at a new possible nature play area, enjoying sand and vine play together.
We have learned along with and as a result of caring for the children, adding several innovations to the base camp. In addition to our camping potty (that actually flushes), we added a solar shower bag for use in hand washing, and enlisted the help of a wagon to lug supplies in and out of the forest with the children's eager help. I cannot wait to watch as the children try the new waders we purchased so they could investigate the creek and puddle pond without having water seep into their boots. This special equipment became necessary to support the children's natural curiosity about water, curiosity that does not end just because the weather gets cold.
We have said goodbye to an intern, Laren, and Sandra, who moved to Spain. We have also said hello to TaQuoia and Jessica, co-teachers, and Joy, interim assistant and substitute teacher, as well as Meagan, a volunteer. We are enjoying the fellowship, conversations, problem-solving discussions, and idea exchange so essential and precious to collaborating as a team in support of the learning and development of each child.
As they have every day since we started this fall, every moment with the children and staff in the woods has continued to bring me a special warmth. As we slide into February together, I anticipate continued laughter, learning, challenges, and fun together!