Our first day back in January looked like it was going to be a full on rainy-wet day, and we were set off for a hike at Annadel park with the foxes. After the long winter break, everyone was beyond excited to be together, rain or shine. The kits have found their routine and familiar places they like to visit at the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Ragle park. We like to hike to the picnic table at the giant oak tree with a huge hole in it (at the Laguna). In the photos below try to see who is hiding in the hole!
There is a young redwood forest at Ragle park, which offers nice branches for climbing and lots of shade. There was an existing shelter built in the forest there, which we happily added to and rested and snacked for a while. And playing hide and seek among the tree trunks was non-stop fun! Also on our adventures at Ragle, we woke the sleeping troll under the bridge, which sparked our play of the billy goats gruff. And we learned how to make Pom poms out of yarn.
Whale trivia at Bodega Head was a hit, but we didn’t see any whales. The kits had a great sneak up and spy game stalking the foxes, as we hunted them for a long time before we were noticed! At our Taylor Mountain base camp we played an epic game of gopher hunt, built fairy and gnome houses, and played an exciting game of group hide & seek. One of our kits joined the "bald eagle expedition crew" to the summit, and some of the Foxes stayed to play with us. At base camp we called ourselves the ‘wild cat explorers’ for the day.
We look forward to all our upcoming adventures in session 4 to visit, explore, and get to know the same places even more, as well as explore new places together!
For this session we got to dust off our rain gear and get out into the wet world. We started our session at Annadel State Park. As we hiked a trail, the children quickly came to realize it was a huge mound of naturally occurring obsidian, recognized as a site of great importance to the Pomo Nation and native peoples of the area for gathering this volcanic material for tools and arrow making. We discovered a newt and watched it swim through a puddle (check out the video below). The children also discovered a ground nest with large cracked egg shells in it! Now that the world around us was nice and wet, we spent some time at the Laguna talking about water. We learned about the water molecule and talked about how sticky water is, by playing a game where we were all lost water drops trying to come together as one. As water moves through the landscape it can pick things up with it along the way, and these things end up in our Laguna. We unfortunately found and collected a lot of trash along our path that day.
While we didn’t see any whales that day on Bodega Head promontory, we sure did have a lot of fun learning about them playing whale trivia. In the redwood forest of Occidental, our group bonded further by taking excellent care of our newest friend, Pinecone Baby, earning themselves the amazing pizza party that took place at New Family Farm on the last day of the session. At Taylor Mountain, a group of us, who called themselves the Golden Eagle expedition crew, hiked the 1,300 feet to the summit and rang the cowbells and cheered with joy for our accomplishment (there's also a video on this). The day was clear enough to see nearly all of Sonoma County. Kaya also taught us how to eat thistle! The children were also delighted to see a little brown mouse that they discovered running in the grass way up on top of the mountain. We had such a great time practicing and performing the fire race story for all the families on the last day of the session. After inspecting a dead washed up Pike that some vultures had claimed as their meal, some fishermen played a river concerto as we ate our lunch. We also talked about that big concrete thing at Steelhead Beach. What the heck is it? Have you wondered too? Ask your Fox to see what they can tell you about it...
A Note on Nature Connection
When I think of my goals and purpose of the work I do with children, one of the main things that come to mind is deeply connecting to nature. To me, this is simply what we are doing every Monday that we gather together.
To just be.... together, alone, with the plant spirits, birds, animals, the rocks, the weather, to be comfortable, at ease, and feel peace and joy.
Of course there are so many wonderful experiences being had. Environmental science, studying the land, the plants, the animals, the weather. Playing games, problem solving and working together. Being social, laughing and making friends, connecting with one another. And of course there are amazing health benefits of being outdoors, in the sun and rain, the fresh clean air to breath!
On a deeper, unseen level, this grand love and connection to the natural world is taking place.
Nature connection refers to knowledge of place (natural environment) and recognizing the patterns in nature.
When we return again and again to places we visit, there is a comfortable familiarity that takes place. The children have naturally developed the spots they like to return to and feel connected to.
It is beautiful to witness.
It is my ultimate hope, and I feel quite confident, that these young ones already have such a deep love and connection to the earth, nature, the land, and environment, and that it will never leave them.
That they will always be stewards, and care deeply for the earth, doing all that they can to protect and love it!
It brings me so much joy and gratitude to share in this connection to nature with this wonderful, amazing group of young naturalists!
Eight attributes of deep nature connection
Quiet mind, presence, and creativity
Inner happiness and joy
A commitment to mentoring
Empathy and respect for nature
Being truly helpful
Being fully alive
Love and forgiveness
Jon Young developed these 8 attributes of connection that serve as a guide, indicators of successful learning as well as learning goals. Mentors and parents can look for the emergence of these specific qualities, and understand the deeper growth and connection that is taking place within oneself and others.
With gratitude for our dear mamma earth, father sun, sister rain, and brother wind️.