Similarly to week seven, we tried to do lots of exploring in our last week in Bedford this summer.
Day one: Base Camp
We spent our first day of the week primarily at basecamp, wondering off with small groups throughout the day on nearby trails for a bit of exploration. This group enjoyed mingling around the basecamp and enjoying all it has to offer. Every student is given a notebook each week to use however they please, some choosing to draw pictures and write stories. These books are often used during quiet time, but many students in this group were eager to start writing in their books; documenting all of the things they had already learned in their brief time at camp already. One student was interested in flipping through the field guides and writing down the new information he was learning, to bring home and share with his family. Another student was eager to learn about all the teas you can make from the forest and began writing out a table of contents to all the pages he hoped to fill out with the process of making and the tasting of each of these teas.
Day Two: Wall of Doom
Everyone enjoyed their day lounging around basecamp on day one , and there was rain in the forecast, so we played in safe and spent Tuesday morning also hanging around base camp. Many students got the opportunity to try their hands at whittling, as well as, enjoying learning new ways to tie sticks and rocks together to resemble axes and other tools.
After hammock time, once the risk of rain had passed to the next day, we ventured as a group to the wall of doom to explore the area more. In our exploration we found many different species of mushrooms and had a guest appearance from Sally the salamander.
Day Three: Fairy Mountain
We lucked out with the weather on Tuesday, but the risk of rain shifted to Wednesday, so we yet again started off at base camp. Fortunately, we had the tarps set up and ready to for for any downpours, although, yet again, the tarps were not needed. Although at this point in the week we had hoped to spend more time away from our typical site, the students were really enjoying their free time in the forest to use their imaginations and just play together. Like the days before, we were sure to venture off the site at some point in the day. Today we chose to venture out of the canvas treetops and hiked to “Fairy Mountain.”
Due to the sun exposure on Fairy Mountain, this is normally where we’ve seen snakes in the past. This group was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of a Garter snake basking in the sun before it slithered off into the bushes. The students also enjoyed finding lots of caterpillars and slugs throughout the day that they named and made homes for. One of our students was even deemed the “Slug Queen” early on in the week as she persistently showed up to save the slugs.
Day Four: Hammock Heatwave
Though the week called for lots of rain, Thursday threw us for a loop when the forecasted temperatures were to reach 36 degrees Celsius with humidex , and thus leaving us no choice to have a shortened day in the forest. Shortened does not mean we did not make the most of it though!
We finally had the chance to really explore out of camp on Thursday and took the opportunity to go somewhere completely new to the program! This little path we followed was actually much closer to our drop off location and brought with it so many new explorations! With lots of large trees nearby, a creek and a mud pit, there was no room for boredom.
Frankie the frog , our youngest of the students , was eager to toddle his way towards the mud, leading another student to quickly join in. The only brave soul to become a mud monster that day, but he had a BLAST jumping into the mud puddle again, and again!
While our mud monster was jumping around, a few students found a little frog in the creek and were eager to try their hands at catching him (after a quick frog catching lesson of course). While all the students had their chance to hold and seeing the frog, we had one student impressively making his way high up in a pine tree. As the oldest student in the group, he was able to articulate with us his risk assessment as he concurred this impressive tree. He voiced to us how his body felt, letting us know he was stopping resting his hands or when the nerves would tell him to . He was so proud of his climbing skills, and we of his communication and understanding of risky play in the forest.
Once snack was over, one by one, the students started to set up their hammocks for play. Learning their shortened day would leave them without quiet time, they didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to swing in their hammocks; even getting the opportunity to try out some double decker’s.
Day Five: Frog Pond
Foraging, frog catching and fungi … what more could you ask for in the final Friday of Summer 2022.
Now to let autumn fall upon us for our next adventures…