Tuesday, July 03, 2012

An Outdoor Classroom

During one of our first homeschool park days in this area, I was told about an amazing course that some of the kids took. One parent was particularly enthusiastic about the program and could not stop raving about the experience. I immediately knew Eamon would love it. She indicated that her daughter went, and thought Aine would love it too. I wasn't so sure about Aine loving it, but I figured we could check it out. I jotted down the name and decided to look into it when we were home. 

After talking to Dave and the kiddos about the program, I contacted the administrator. After multiple email exchanges, we agreed that Eamon and Aine could attend one class and then register for the remainder if they liked it. I still wasn't convinced that they both would like it. I didn't want to "waste" our money on something they would not want to do. We have done that in the past with other classes.

Before the first class, we outfitted their backpacks with lunch, ponchos and a knife. Coming from Arizona, we did not have much in the way of rain gear or warm clothes, but we did our best. Both awoke early on the first day eager to set out for their class. We piled into the car and headed out in pouring rain. I was nervous. I was about to hand over my desert dwelling children to a stranger in the cold rain in the middle of a nature preserve. I was the only one concerned; they jumped out of the car and were off. I spoke a bit with their mentor and felt more comfortable. With only Benton at my side, I returned to the car and left them to explore and learn in the outdoors for the next five hours.

I could not believe what I heard when I returned to pick them up. They had the time of their lives. They both loved every minute of the adventure. My worry was unfounded. Aine didn't mind the rain or walking. Eamon and Aine both wanted to know when the next class was. There was no doubt; they wanted to attend the full course.

Every week for the past six weeks, they have ventured forth in the woods and learned. They have built a teepee, debris hut, a fire without matches, discovered a natural spring, fished, carved, identified edible plants and had fun. With new found knowledge, my kiddos have continued to impress me with what they have gained from their time with Ancetral Knowledge. This opportunity has been phenomenal. I am so glad we found out about it. I only wish it had lasted longer. I now have children who run ahead on hikes in search of greenbriar and wild sorrel, which they greedily munch as snacks. Eamon will warn me about harmful plants and show me what is safe. He immediately identified the Indian Pipe on our last hike. Aine happily recounts stories of swimming in the water and finding tadpoles. They have increased confidence in their new surroundings, and I am loving the result. It was money well spent and I am hoping to find something similar when we leave here.

(For anyone in the VA/MD area, I cannot recommend AK more. The weekly classes resume in September and are completely worth it).


  1. What a wonderful experience for them both! So glad you decided to go ahead and dive in and let them see for themselves if they liked it or not. Looks like it was both fun and educational...can't get much better than that!! I'm sure it was nice having some one on one time with Benton, too. :)

    1. I am so glad I did. I was really skeptical after the first day of heavy rains, but their smiles were huge when I picked them up. They never complained about going and often asked when the next one was. And yes, it was so nice to have some one on one time with B.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful adventure...something that I'd love to take part in. I've not read the information properly yet but the overnight stay sounds amazing.