Religious Education Week, Ferry Beach Conference Center
Today we had the fifth and sixth graders first. We played the “Foxes, Rabbits, and Leaves” game that we did yesterday with the third and fourth graders — I learned from yesterday’s mistakes, and the game went much more smoothly today. After half an hour of play, the children didn’t want to stop, but Lisa and I eneded that game anyway because we wanted to give them some alone time in the woods.
So we lined them up single file, and walked out into the woods. One by one, Lisa seated each child along the trail, so they were all spread out — within sight of one another, but too far away too talk. After about seven minutes of quiet time, Lisa and I circled around and picked the children up one by one, and we all walked back single file, in silence, to a comfortable place in the woods, where we sat in a circle.
I asked: What did you do with you time alone in the woods?
“I picked up a big stick and I hit it against a tree again and again until it broke.”
“I sat and meditated for a while, then I opened my eyes and looked around.”
“I let an inch worm crawl on me, but then I squished it by mistake so I buried it.”
“I picked up a big stick and hit it again a tree too.”
“I swatted mosquitoes. Oh, and I listened to a bird that was nearby.”
I said: I love to spend time outdoors, and I’ve done all those things myself.
One of our goals is to give each group plenty of unstructured time more or less alone in the woods. A big part of our goal is to help children feel comfortable outdoors, in a natural environment — we want kids to like Nature and the outdoors. If they feel some spiritual connection with Nature, great, but just liking it is enough at this point.