With Strong Roots, Learners Gain Wings to Fly!
“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children, One of these is roots, the other, wings.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Oh what a wondrous finale to our Forest School season: this was our last week of class together for the fall and we had quite the celebration! Picture the sun shining brightly, a chill in the air, and a ceremonial drum keeping the beat to our dancing fire.
We began our final class with a hunt for the perfect stick to whittle. We stayed cozy and warm by the fire while we whittled sticks for roasting marshmallows. The learners practiced patience and attention to detail as they worked hard to whittle their sticks to be the right size for sticking through their squishy treats. Some learners enjoyed burning the outside of their marshmallows before consuming them, others preferred to eat them uncooked, while some stayed by the fire long enough to let their marshmallow reach that browned, gooey greatness! In honor of our special “Wings Ceremony”, we also roasted bananas stuffed with yummy chocolate chips.
Once faces were sticky and covered in chocolate, we gathered up together to begin the official earning of our wings. We began with a reading of the Mary Oliver poem, “ The Summer Day ” by the mentors. Each learner entered into the fire circle while a mentor spoke words of their strengths and then each peer expressed what they enjoyed most about that learner. There was so much joy being shared as continuous kind words were spoken. We heard how much they enjoyed playing together, how loyal they felt they were towards each other, and how inspired they were by some creative ideas their peers had. There was one underlying theme spoken and that was that they really felt they had made such strong friendships here at Forest School. It was heartwarming to listen to and truly put the biggest smiles across each learner’s face as they earned their wings. They were then sprinkled with biodegradable “pixie dust” as the mentors chanted “with strong roots, now you can fly!” The anointed learner then scooped a bucket of water from the community water to pour over the fire as another learner banged the ceremonial drum. You could see each learner light up while they were in the middle of the circle listening to what we thought was special about them, as well as how excited they were to be showered with glitter while gaining their wings. The ceremony came to a close with a wolf howl as we all worked together to pour the remaining water over the fire.
We captured some of the special things that were said about each learner in their nature journals before passing them off to the learners to enjoy and look back on when they feel called to. We all feel so grateful for each and every one of the learners we had the privilege of getting to know and deeply see for exactly who they are. We could not be more grateful for that privilege and we hope that each always know how special they are and that they were born perfect, whole and complete. We will always hold dear the space we were able to share with them, in the greatest classroom of all. “Thank you for being you, wonderous you.”
An Excerpt from “ The Summer Day ” by Mary Oliver:
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done? doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
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