More camp fun: this month on the beautiful Lake Champlain Waldorf School Campus. Awesome campers, dedicated energetic and loving counselors, blue skies, lush green fields, breezy pine-scented forests, cool sprinklers, nourishing and delicious snacks, creative art projects, and ever changing sand box creations:
What a week! Our small but sweet group did a lot of garden work, found plenty of time to play, and made detailed garden journal entires, seed bombs, beautiful painted pots, and delicious snacks along the way. Check out some images from the week:
Want to learn more about gardening with children? Check out these Tips for Gardening with Kids and this post about the importance of spending time outside.
School gardens are great. They deepen connections between students and their food. They’re full of real life science, art, math, culture, and writing opportunities. And of course, they get us outside to do real work and hands-on learning. But in a place like Vermont, they can be only be started at the very end of the school year, they thrive and flourish during summer vacation, and then the first frost comes soon after the new school year starts. Many families even have plenty of space to garden at home. Is it worth it? What do you do in the summer?
Yes, it’s worth it! Here are some suggestions for the summer:
-Summer Programming: I’m running two weeks of Green Thumbs School Garden Camp in my town’s school gardens. The late June and early August sessions, which include numerous opportunities for major kid-powered garden work, are spaced evenly through the summer so the only summer-long weekly task is watering. Campers have had a blast (read more about our first week by following this link)! Gardening can actually be quite fun if it’s a choice not a chore, if you’re with your friends, if there’s water and mud play involved, and if you get to eat delicious snacks created from things you grew and picked.
-Tips for Gardening with Kids: Read this past post for some tips for adults working with children in gardens.
-Watering: This is a great way to engage families. Have individuals or families sign up for a week of watering. If weather is hot or dry, they are responsible for watering the garden that week. This spreads the burden out, allows garden coordinators to travel and enjoy their summer, prompts students and their parents visit the garden in the summer, and helps grow the community of support around the garden without anyone getting over burdened.
-Summer Harvest: Summer harvest parties can pick and process food, freezing or canning it for the school year. Make sure to coordinate with your food service director if you take this route! Harvest can also be eaten by families who help water and by summer campers. If you have a food shelf in your community, consider donating the school’s summer produce so that all community members can enjoy local fresh veggies. If you have a local farmer’s market, engage middle or high school students in selling the produce. Managing the table requires the mastery of all sorts of mathematical, economic, agricultural, and social skills. Funds raised can help support future garden projects or can pay students a stipend for the hours they worked.
Garden Maintenance: Yes, we really can do most of our garden maintenance with kids during two weeks of camp. Admittedly, it does help to avoid being a perfectionist (which I highly recommend if you’re gardening with children!). In preparation for next week’s camp, I did a site visit to see what needed to be done. Hopefully the following photos and text can help you if you’re managing your own gardens. Happy Gardening!
When I was in seventh grade, we were given the choice to study anything we wanted. Most classmates picked their favorite athlete, hobby, or food. I picked Time. Whew, that was a challenge to put into a paper and presentation!
This week at camp, we’re making sure to have fun in the sun. When working with children, I still think it is fascinating to notice how the rotation of our earth and the sun are linked to the rhythms of seasons and time. There are great legends from many cultures that can be read to explain the sun’s journey across the sky, the change in seasons, and the passage of time. This week my campers created a human sun dial and shadow circus (photos and explanations below). More important than understanding the physics and astronomy, I think these activities help us observe our surroundings and consider the other living things in our ecosystem in a new and interesting way.
Human Sun Dial: Stand on black top in the morning and trace your feet. Every hour, draw a line under the shadow that your body is making. The next day, stand in your foot prints, look at your shadow, and find out what time it is! How does your shadow change over the course of the day?
Shadow Circus: Have a friend trace your shadow. Add silly clothes, awesome hair-dos, fun pets, and more! Notice how your shadow is a giant in the morning and in the evening and a midget in the middle of the day. What does this tell you about the path of the sun?
Early July Recipes: Meanwhile, the garden is loving the sun! Our weather has been great for growing this year. Check out these links to past posts for in-season recipe ideas:
Eight bright-eyed campers arrived at the Charlotte Central School Garden on Monday morning ready for Green Thumbs Garden Camp. The cool grass was still wet with dew, but the strong sunlight promised a warm summery day. Though few of the campers knew each other, we joined together for our welcoming circle, inventing garden names we would use for the rest of the week.
Fast friendships and a thriving garden grew from a week that included a balanced mixture of garden work, harvesting, tasting, cooking, storytelling, art, free play, and watering (ourselves and the plants). We were especially excited by animal visitors, including garter snakes, barn swallows, and plenty of creepy crawly compost creatures.
By Friday, it was impossible to know that many campers had met each other just a few days before. When we said goodbye on our last day, many campers eagerly exchanged information so they could play with each other again soon. Campers themselves were transformed – tentative eaters discovered new flavors and food preferences, and each of us deepened our gardening expertise. The school garden underwent a similarly remarkable transformation. All twelve raised beds were carefully weeded and planted, newly woven trellises stood tall for our climbing veggies, colorfully illustrated signs labeled each garden patch, painted pots were planted with climbing flowers stood in a row – ready to decorate the side of the new compost shed, and many of the plants had grown noticeably taller!
Green Thumbs Camp was lucky to have several community members enrich our experience. Susan Raber of Springhouse Pottery taught us how to weave willow trellises for our climbing plants. Vera Simon-Nobes and Michael Haulenbeek of Fifth Fence Farm welcomed us to their farm for a wonderful field trip. There, we petted sheep, carded wool, spun our own bracelets, and gently held baby chicks! Deirdre Holmes, Abby Foulk, and CCS Administrators welcomed us to the school and ensured that we had everything we needed for a great week of camp.
Space still remains in August’s camp session! Green Thumbs Gardening Camp will run for a second week from August 4th through 8th. Parents of rising 1st through 5th graders are encouraged to find out more by clicking on the poster to the right or at http://www.charlottevt.org/ (click on “recreation,” then “summer camps”). Questions can be emailed to Tai and Stacy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read on for some great camper quotes and photos!
Families near Charlotte, VT: Check out the camp I’ll be running this summer in Charlotte School Gardens. Slots still remain – sign up or help spread the word now!
5-year-olders through 5th graders: Your thumbs will turn green after a week in Charlotte’s school gardens this summer! Play and work with friends to deepen knowledge and boost excitement about vegetables, fruits, seeds, pollination, decomposition, and garden ecosystems. Become an animal lover during our walking field trip to visit sheep at nearby Fifth Fence Farm. Each afternoon, transform into a chef to prepare a daily snack using ingredients just harvested from the garden. Don’t forget to save some energy for playing on the playground, creating garden-themed art, exploring around the base of Pease Mountain, and making discoveries in and out of the gardens!
Camp Directors Tai Dinnan and Stacy Carter have extensive experience gardening with children and can’t wait to get their hands dirty at CCS.
More information & Registration Form at www.charlottevt.org (click on “Recreation” in the menu on the left), or email email@example.com
There are signs around our house that we are coming to the end of winter: garden seeds have arrived in the mail, days are getting longer, and summer camp brochures are printed and on the counter. My summer programming schedule is almost finalized and it’s going to be a good one. I hope my campers have fun this summer – based on our planning so far, I am going to have a blast!
My summer will start and end with a week of Green Thumbs Camp at Charlotte Central School. I can’t wait to rekindle my school garden energy and pull favorite garden games and activities out of the archives. I’m especially interested to be running the camp with an amazing teacher and children’s garden guru Stacy Carter. For the month of July, I’ll continue my work to explore, discover, and grow with children at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School. This summer I’ll be leading the 6 to 8-year-old portion of their Turtle Lane Camp. You can always visit my site http://taidinnan.wordpress.com/ for up-to-date programming information. Thanks for spreading the word:
I’m gearing up for a fun summer! If your family lives in Vermont, check out the additional programs and workshops I’ve added to my summer offerings. As always, check out http://taidinnan.wordpress.com/programming/ for the latest updates on my kids camps, workshops, and classes. Thanks for spreading the word!
Every April, the Children and Nature Network runs a “Let’s G.O.! (get outside)” campaign. This is a great opportunity to bring together community members and have fun outside. At Monkton Central School, we’ll have a variety of awesome outdoor activity choices for students on Thursday April 18th:
For Vermont families making summer plans, I’m excited to announce a partnership with Joe Schine. Together we’ll be running a summer camp called “From Scratch” at the Bridge School in Middlebury, Vt. We’re psyched about the freedom and creativity that this theme gives us. Joe is an amazing artist and creator, and I love to explore nature and play with food. Help us spread the word! For more information about camp, email firstname.lastname@example.org Click here to download the Registration Form. Updates and information can be found by visiting http://fromscratchvt.tumblr.com/