Well that’s a wrap! Six weeks truly has never gone so fast. Our spring and fall programs are unique in the sense where we get the opportunity to spend one day a week together over a series of weeks. This method of learning allows for the students to see the forest change around them, giving everyone even more of an opportunity to learn about the environment they play, live and learn in. This spring we offered a Thursday and Saturday program; both run in different locations allowing for different opportunities. Like our locations, our students in each program are also quite different; by running a program during the week we nurture a number of homeschooling students. These students are often in the same program together year after year and watching their friendships and knowledge grow over the years is as beautiful as the forest we get to do it all in.
That is not to discredit our Saturday group at all! As amazing as it is to watch the same students come to grow with each other, it is just as amazing to see a group of strangers grow over the weeks and develop everlasting friendships. That is the joys of Saturdays.
So let’s run it down, we spent 6 weeks together… What did we do?
Thursday Spring Program 2022
Blue Mountain Birch Cove Wilderness area is the most beautiful forest (though I may be biased on saying so); watching the way this forest changes week by week – year around – is truly incredible.
Throughout the spring program here at Blue Mountain Birch Cove Wilderness area the students get the opportunity to be a part of the forest waking up after a long winter. This location is truly designed for the full forest school experience. Being a wilderness area means we don’t have access to much other than what the forest already offers. Hiking in and out of camp each day and being surrounded by nothing but nature for 6 hours.
This is the location that Wildchild NS was built off of and the areas of the forest have developed many nicknames over the years. The kids definitely enjoy trying to make it to all of these places before the program is over.
Let’s start with the favourite: Frog Pond / The Waterfall
Also known as Hobson Lake
Nothing quite beats a day spent by the water: making boats, catching frogs, testing the water and hanging in hammocks.
Though I’m sure some of us wish we could spend everyday at Frog Pond, the place we make the most memories would be Base Camp! Our camp is a short (~10 min) hike in from the road. Here is where we build tables, forts and swings out of the forest. This group enjoyed learning to use tools through knot tying, whittling and magnifying glass writing/burning. By offering a brief lesson on the importance of tools in nature and their different functions, then providing each child with the opportunity to use these things in a controlled environment is a great way to enstool the confidence in them to trust their bodies when engaged in different risky activities.
Finally, the forest wouldn’t be fully introduced without sharing about Fairy Mountain and The Wall of Doom. Both locations are short walks from our camp, making them great hikes on days we just need to get out of camp for a little bit. Fairy Mountain is where we go to warm up on cold days, as it is located on a large rock face, allowing us to duck out of the tree canopy from time to time. This is where we’ve often found snakes basking in the sun in the past. But fairy mountain is most known for its infamous climbing tree. Years ago a beautiful white pine tree on fairy mountain was dubbed THE climbing tree of forest school and they are all eager to climb it each year.
Just off the edge of fairy mountain is the large rock face that makes up The Wall of Doom. Legend has it that the gatekeeper of the forest was trapped in the wall many years ago and year after year we have students who try to crack the code of how to open the wall and release him. The moss that paints the side of the wall truly gives the appearance of an old magical tale. This area of the forest is also great for finding mushrooms, toads and salamanders; a great area to learn the importance of having a look at the world around them because they never quite know what they’re going to find.
But… I can’t give away all of our secrets to the forest. You’ll just have to come and learn them for yourself.
Saturday Spring Program 2022
I would like to start by introducing the park we call home:
Cole Harbour Heritage Park.
Besides being a beautiful accessible location for us to play in, it also offers the opportunity for more types of outdoor play. Forest, grass and coastline settings allow for the students to learn what grows and lives in each environment and the best way they can play safely to respect the land and their bodies while engaged.
We had some beautiful weather this spring allowing us to take advantage of our ocean coast line on the hot days. We were fortunate enough to have our beach days at different stages of the tide, teaching the children first hand about the things they can see during different times of the day.
But as much as there was to discover exploring the ocean coastline, the days spent at camp seemed to be the favourite amongst the group.
Spinning and swinging in hammocks, searching for mushrooms, whittling, tree climbing, forest art… and their absolute favourite: fort building!
Whether forest play, grass play or water play, these kids taught us the true fun of RAIN play!