Farm & Forest Summer Camp: Session 2: Air
Farm and Forest camp at Lakeside school is in now full swing. We just finished our second week, which turned out to be an all-girl group. Some girls were already friends, and some were visiting from far away for the summer. I was so excited to see the fresh and smiling faces arriving on Monday morning; I could tell this was going to be a fun week!
We began with some getting to know you games and quite a few rounds of tag, after which the girls were laughing and giggling as if they had known each other all summer. Monday was a hot day, so we all put on water sandals and creek shoes and headed down to the woods for some shade and splashing. While I worked on a fort from last week, the girls explored an open section of forest near the trail. They practiced balancing on downed trees, scaled a small, steep section using a rope tied to a tree, and found large branches for me to add to the fort. Although it was a little buggy, this shady section of the forest is a perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day exploring and playing imaginative games. After awhile we were feeling very hot, so we went for a wet hike in the creek. The water cooled our feet and ankles as we overturned rocks and found bugs, worms, crawfish, and slimy salamanders. The girls loved it! This was a tough group; the girls climbed over logs in the creek, dug in clay and mud, and scampered after frogs in the creek. They came out of the woods covered in mud and big grins. Their enthusiasm for the creek and forest was infectious-they told me many times how BEAUTIFUL and FUN it all was!
Tuesday morning we all met at Full and By farm where farmer Cara was waiting for our help to feed the pigs. We tossed rotten eggs and veggies to the pigs while Cara poured their grain and taught us a bit about the pigs, and how they are rooting up the rocks from field to clear for future planting. Afterward we picked the very last tiny strawberries of the season while we pulled some rather huge weeds that had grown around the plants-some took two girls to yank out of the ground! We visited with the draft horses Rosa and Lightning before heading down the road to feed the chickens and collect their eggs.
On Wednesday we went for a hike all around the loop of the forest. The girls were all strong and enthusiastic hikers, despite the heat and bugs. We took many breaks to sip water and enjoy the large trees and vistas of the distant Vermont mountains. We took the time to dip our heads in the cool water before heading back to the play yard, and also munching on some black raspberries along the way. In the afternoon the girls spent a long time playing imaginative games together in the play yard (the theme seemed to be horses) while I helped them put kites together one by one. Just before the end of the day we headed to the orchard for a little afternoon tree-climbing. We were all excited to see tiny apples on the tree and beginnings of grapes on the vines.
On Thursday morning the girls and I spent the morning decorating their kites with tissue paper. They turned out beautifully, but there was no breeze that day, so we decided to save the flying for another day. In the afternoon something very special happened. While visiting some fairy houses that we had made in the forest earlier in the week, the girls discovered a note left for them by the fairies! It instructed them to follow clues that were left for them through the forest, and promised a sweet prize. The girls were simply awestruck and took the search very seriously, walking quietly and slowly through the forest while looking for the fairy clues. We spent a magical hour walking through the forest, finding clues and looking for signs of all the creatures living in the forest around us. Sure enough, at the end there was a clue that told them their special treat was ice cream! However, the girls would need to work together to make it themselves. We made the ice cream with fresh farm milk and cream with a hand-crank ice cream maker, and it was delicious! This experience was magical for the girls, and really brought them together as a small group—the day ended with lots of silliness and giggling!
On Friday morning we were all excited to fly our kites. Unfortunately it was still not quite windy enough. While none of them made it too high into the sky, we all had fun running down the hill with the kites fluttering on a short bit of rope behind us. We visited the woods one last time before heading into our pizza garden to harvest kale, onions, basil, and the season’s first tomato (!). We worked together to chop up all the veggies for a special pizza snack. The girls took turns mixing and kneading the dough, and together we made a beautiful and delicious pizza. Everyone enjoyed at least one piece, despite having some pizza skeptics in the group. After saying goodbye to 2 friends at lunch, the remaining girls spent the afternoon playing creative games in the play yard. At pick up the parent found us practicing cartwheels and handstands in the shade.
This week of camp was truly a joy and the realization of my vision of what Farm and Forest camp would be. I am so pleased that these children came from near and far, and became fast friends for a week of fun, adventure, and play. I’m looking forward to two more weeks of summer camp excitement, with more to come next year!!
Julie Warren is the Farm and Forest Summer Camp director and afternoon teacher at Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm.
All photos by Susan Bacot-Davis.
Made possible, in part, by the Essex County Arts Council CAP Grant supported by public funds from Essex County.