Our mission is to connect people with nature.
Connection means knowing and feeling an invisible string between yourself and another. Connection is what we thrive on, and has the potential to be deepened throughout a lifetime. We can feel a connection to the land, trees and plants and animals and rocks, to our friends and family, and the more time we spend with them the more they have to teach us. To forge connection we need to step out into the natural world with an open heart, a curious mind and a willingness to look closely and be present, without judgements.
Wonder & Curiosity
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”– Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”– Albert Einstein
Cultivating a sense of wonder when we go out into nature is paramount at Nature School. Asking questions deepens our relationship to wonder, as well as inspires creativity and empathy. Anyone can memorize information and data, but when we step into curiosity the world opens up to us and anything is possible. Wondering at the mysteries we find in nature leads to a natural drive to understand, study and pay attention to those wild things we wonder about. This creates deeper connection. I can walk through the woods and point out fifty different plants to you, but after that walk how many will you remember? More importantly, how many will you feel connected to? But if we go out and look closely at the stem and roots and veins in the leaf, ask questions about its healing uses and its habitat, who else eats it and when it flowers, and then we hunt through a field guide to identify it, this will create a more memorable and rewarding experience in the long run.
Mentoring means taking children into your heart. It requires getting to know them, their edges and passions and then asking the right questions in the right order so to help them along on their learning journey. Mentoring requires a deepening relationship and a willingness to learn from each other. This is why it is so beautiful when children return to our programs throughout the seasons and come with an open heart and excitement themselves. The land at Circle R has so much to offer and we try to capitalize on what we call “mentoring moments.” When a child comes up to us and is excited to show us something they found, we then begin to ask questions that guide their observations, boost their confidence and get them wondering deeper about what more they can find out. Mentoring sculpts children into problem solvers, strong, resilient leaders, and life-long learners.
I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.
Feeling and expressing gratitude is foundational to our experiences at Nature School. Each day usually begins and ends with doing a circle check-in where we express our gratitude for different gifts we have in our life. Taking stock and thinking deeply on all we have helps us to better appreciate those things and not take them for granted. Then, for example, when we go build a shelter in the woods out of sticks and leaves and imagine what it would be like to sleep in it for a cold rainy night, we walk away with a new appreciation for our house and home. Practicing gratitude helps kids realize all they have, what is essential, and how to live in the present moment.
Respect for the land is a super important part of our philosophy at Nature School. Over time, and through deepening connections, we come to get a sense of the ecology of the land, the relationships between tree and bee and beaver, for example. With this deeper understanding we teach how to leave no trace, how to do no harm to the forest, and walk lightly on the Earth. Caring for the land brings forth a passionate generation of people who are willing to make different decisions to lessen the human impact on the Earth, as well as regenerate the depleting biodiversity. At least, that is our bread and butter. That is our hope.
For more information check out Jeremiah’s webinar with Scholar’s Choice about the Philosophy of Forest Schools.