Wow, it has been a while since I have written. This year I took a contract as an Interim Executive Director of a local nonprofit, which took much of my time and energy, plus I was still working for FamilyWorks.
Now as fall begins, it’s a time for reflection as I ponder next steps in my career (I completed my contract at the end of June). Inspiration often bubbles up when I start writing again.
I’m feeling inspired by Wilderness Awareness School these days.
My son (10 y.o.) has participated in their summer camps for the past two years. My daughter (teen), did a camp last year.
The organization’s mission says it all: “We are committed to providing transformational and educational experiences that deepen students’ connections with nature and the people with whom they interact, and allow them to more fully reach their potential in life. Our community of students includes people of all ages who understand and thrive on their connection to the natural world around us.”
I really resonate with this mission. My family gets a kick out of being outdoors at every opportunity (well, ok, it’s mostly the adults, but the kids soon follow suit), so their summer camps have been a great fit. When I was a child, spending time in the great outdoors was not a priority for my family. We rarely camped, hiked, or spent time at the beach. It wasn’t until I became an adult and started traveling, joined the Peace Corps, then meeting my husband (who practically lived in the outdoors), that I became a die-hard fan of nature.
This summer, my son took a week-long day camp with Wilderness Awareness School at Seward Park, one of Seattle’s most wonderful parks. He explored the park all day, every day with fellow campers. He would come home each day exhausted and sweaty, but thrilled about seeing an owl in a tree, hearing bird calls, naming the Stellars Jays, and playing fun games in the forest.
On the last day of camp, his counselor wrote a note to my son. Here’s an excerpt:
“I’m so happy you were a part of the Stowe-Jay Flap Flaps this week! Your focused, friendly, scouty energy was a gift to the group this week. You have the makings of a true scout— I loved watching you play fire-keeper with such focus and you were a great role model when we stalked up on those turtles. I also appreciated your knack for remembering the naturalist information we learned; it seemed like you always remembered that trees and bird calls!”
One of my son’s summer assignments for school was to write about connecting with a person he did not know very well. He chose his camp counselor from Wilderness Awareness School. The counselors really know how to make the kids feel welcome and connected to the group.
One day, just before school started, our family was trying to figure out what to do on a somewhat overcast day (the temperature had dropped from the 90’s the day before to the 60’s!). Even though it was a little cooler, it was still pleasant, and we wanted to take advantage of the last days of summer.
My son’s face lit up as an idea came bursting forth. He suggested going to Seward Park and leading us on some of the trails he had explored. I thought to myself, wow, he really found such joy and confidence from being in Seward Park with Wilderness Awareness School.
So off we went to the park to explore. It was actually the first time I had explored the park at length (and I have been in Seattle 20 years!). He remembered certain trails he had been on and would stop and point something out…here’s where we saw the owl…here’s where we played “fire”… It was really neat to see him brimming with self-confidence at finding his way around and clearly enjoying being in the park.
It was so much fun! And I am hoping to continue the fun- we have signed both kids up for the monthly Nature Skills camp starting in October!