What’s The Funny Thing About Coming Home?

by | Sep 14, 2020

“It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Today, we were honored to welcome our family back into the woods.

But truthfully, it took us a minute during set up today to get our bearings. Which way do we normally go in? I don’t feel like these vines were here before. Watch for that patch of poison ivy. And then slowly… Wow, there are so many green leaves! Look, we left a mud kitchen spoon here! And just like that, we were back. Back to our home in the woods and back to the heart of our Aishling. The squealing of the learners bouncing each other off the ropes and the mentors reminding friends that “big sticks need big space”. It was all still here.

girl climbing treeAt one point, I walked down to add some boundary flags to the western side of our forest school area while chatting with one of the learners that had followed to help. A memory from the class right before shut down popped into my head. “Heyyy… do you remember which tree you climbed last class?”.  She looked puzzled, that was six months ago, and then… CLICK! I saw her race over to her tree and start to shimmy her way up. I swear she looked taller than she had in March and her tree had some extra moss up the sides but her old friend was right where she left it. Of course it was. It was still here.

We are returning to our woodland home with fresh eyes and a grateful heart. We can still see those beautiful memories we had made early last season but things have certainly changed – both inside and outside of those woods. I have always felt honored for the opportunity to spend time in the forest with our learners but who would have thought our moments together would have been put on such a long pause. Today I felt the release that comes with being back with the people and places we love. We are here and we are ok. Gratitude has a whole new meaning these days. These shared moments we get with our forest family were always here in these woods, just waiting for us this whole time.

boy making rock mandala

During our 2nd class, we continued to flow with nature and decided to take off our Oaki gear and head to the beach. What a gift to have such beautiful options- a lush forest and a bountiful beach, filled with crabs, rocks and sea glass.

We continued to learn about our Forest School Way, which you may hear at home and we encourage you to make it your own. Our Forest School Way includes:

  1. Taking Care of Yourself (drinking water when thirsty, resting when tired)
  2. Taking Care of Each Other (making sure you have enough room when playing with sticks, gaining consent from someone before touching them)
  3. Taking Care of Mama Earth (picking up after yourself, taking care of our mini beast friends)

Learners took their beachy new environment in stride. One learner took the time to make a rock mandala and found sea glass that looked like a whale’s tail and so enjoyed the crystallized rocks that looked like quartz. He was an artist all-day and made art with rocks and mud. He was simply being and expressing himself autonomously.

Another learner took this time by the seaside to organize a beach book club. A natural organizer and leader, she set up a system where the younger learners could choose which book they wanted to hear, as the older learners read to them. She was highly considerate and inclusive without losing sight of the goal and intention to carry out a mission where everyone’s needs were met- now that’s what I call a natural leader.

Hearing more about our learners’ passions was also gifted to us. Some learners had a desire for swinging on a tire swing for the first time, while another learner shared her goal of writing a book about medicinal plants. And another showed us her love of dance and choreography. It’s incredible how powerful these passions can be at such a young age, especially when given the time and space to pursue them while being supported to embrace them fully. It is our goal at Forest School to allow them just that- to be who they are meant to be.

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