This May we had the joy of hosting another school group from our area for a 4-day campout and farm week! Two Waldorf Schools joined up and came out together to integrate with our farm team for four days of adventure on the land: Waldorf School of Santa Barbara and the other group from Wishing Well School in San Luis Obispo.
It was sweet to see the whole group of 3rd graders getting up with the sun each morning and wholeheartedly jumping into learning and helping with animals chores, making sure that all the animals were tended before they ate breakfast themselves! The rest of our days were spent learning about bees, hiking up the watershed, planting trees and simply playing as a group. Students embraced the opportunity to challenge themselves physically, mentally and emotionally through games, hard work and sharing circles. We here at Quail Springs are delighted when we get to host groups of eager and inspired school kids. Watching the smiles on the faces of this group all week was no exception! You can read more below about their experience from the perspective of one of the teachers, Kim Wishon:
Hello to all you wonderful parents,
It was so nice to be back today with our whole class. Stories came out all over the place from both groups and their doings from the past week. It sounded like Ms. Kipps did a lovely job of holding the Maples with only a few girls (depending on the day) and the children all seemed to be happy to return together.
Well, before my stories leave me and we are on to the next thing, I thought I would share some of my experiences and observations from our trip. First of all, I was so thoroughly impressed by our group of 7 students and their ability to meld into another group, make new friends, be confident with who they are and, no one cried for mama at night!
We were pretty far out there, off the grid, learning our lessons from the land. I find that when I remove myself from the hustle of daily life, the natural surroundings of the place show me what I need to learn and I have the ability, time and desire to listen. This was evident for the children as well in that they came up against their own limitations, whatever they were, keeping track of their belongings, fear of darkness, setting up a tent, moderating their own body temperature with jackets, hats, etc., cleaning up after themselves, etc. and they were able to be in a place where they could rise to meet their challenges without others interfering. During the drum stalk, (which was a blindfolded walk where the children had to find their way through the canyon, about an eighth of a mile, to the sound of the drum) I found that letting them stumble and go the wrong direction for a bit was very hard for me to do. I also realized that if I guided them and showed them the way, that I was taking a piece of their learning away from them. As I was at my last class’ graduation from 8th grade (before I had children) a mother in the class told me (as I’m standing there very pregnant) that the whole thing, from the moment they breathe their first breath is about letting go. This trip was another breath for the children, like that first one, and now it is our task to know how much to guide them and where the boundaries are for each stage of growth.
To give you a little picture, each morning we woke to do farm chores from 7-8am and then we prepared our own breakfast and lunches. The farm provided lovely fresh soul food for dinners. No sugar! It is amazing how much sugar our children consume. I found them really craving it and it was a little like detoxing from sugar while we were there. We camped about a 5 min. walk from the main commons (2 yurts) where we met for meals and morning circle. The mornings and afternoons were filled with a creek hike, planting trees, learning about compost, looking in a top bar beehive, games, tours of yurts and cob structures, swinging and lots of laughing. Each evening we had campfires either outside or inside in a wood stove. Stories and songs sent us off to sleep as we crossed the canyon back to our campsite. The weather was transitional the whole time and skies were amazing.
Thank you for this lovely opportunity to spend so much time with your children. They blossomed, as did I, with the desert rain and horny toads.
Here at Quail Springs, we look forward to hosting many more weeks like this with these and other schools. For more information on how to arrange these types of visits, please contact our Program Coordinator: [email protected].