This summer 15 children descended on Under The Canopy for a weeklong Homestead Camp. Homestead Camp provided space to explore the natural world, how to survive when its hot outside, how to can and preserve food, and how to engage with the community they live in, making Tulsa a more green city. In the mornings we would all gather up in the tree house for a morning meeting. We talked about our personal sustainability goals and worked on posters representing our plans to live a more green life. For inspiration we looked at other artists posters that represented the tools of green living. We then talked about how we want to live in our community. Some children decided to draw themselves taking care of animals, some drew bikes to talk about using transportation without fossil fuels. Some showed themselves cleaning up trash in their neighborhood. We had brainstorms and made the posters in steps using the art tools of wet on wet watercolor and pencil and ink tracing.
We took a midmorning break and re-gathered for a lesson on nature awareness. Part of the camp was also about learning how to open all of our senses and connect more deeply with the nature that surrounds us daily. We played nature games, these games had us practicing walking and sensing like an animal. We did a lot of hiding and blending in. The children also got to practice “sit spot.” For their “sit spot” exercise the children picked a spot in the yard and quietly observed nature for a set amount of time. They recorded their findings in nature journals they added to through out the week.
After lunch we split into groups and got the opportunity to learn the art of preserving food. We started the week of our local food tour with sweetness by making blueberry and peach preserves. By mid week we moved on to churning our own butter! On the final days we made homemade tomato sauce and dill, pickled, green beans. The scents of cooking creations filled the air at Under The Canopy! The children who were not actively in the kitchen chopped produce on the picnic bench outside and got a chance to cool off with some water play. It requires ingenuity to have a mostly outdoor camp in the middle of July. The camp taught resiliency as much as any other sustainability skill. Learning how to stay cool and drink enough water was a huge piece of their learning.
On the final day of camp families gathered together for a community lunch. I loved getting the chance to see families cheering their children on as they showed them all the cool new things they accomplished. The children came home with a nature journal full of their observations, examples of how to write nature journal entries, and recipes from their week of homesteading skills. They made beautiful posters expressing their ideas on how they wanted to live a more green life. After enjoying scratch made tomato sauce for lunch they were sent off into the world with a new set of fun skills to connect to nature. I look forward to next year and expanding this camp so that it will include going to visit the farms that provide the food and reach even more children with this important homestead knowledge.