“I don’t want to stay inside. I just want to go out and play!..... Let me Play the TimberNook Way!”
This is part of the TimberNook song that little ones sing to start their morning. After good morning greetings, the kids gather their backpacks up and get in line eager to get out into the woods for the day. You can hear the excitement in their voices as they talk to each other in anticipation of what the day will bring.
The kids gather around the fire as the TimberNook teacher tells the story, Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. All faces are turned towards the storyteller. There is no fidgeting, walking away, or looks of boredom. Eyes are wide open and mouths slightly agape as they stare in wonder at the storyteller, truly engaged in the story.
After the story, the TimberNook teacher has the kids follow her deeper into the woods to a fallen tree. The kids proceed to act out the story, Caps for Sale with beautifully colored hats. Each child instantly becomes a monkey, embodying the role they are to play. They navigate up the tree with ease and assume their spots – never having done this before but trusting that this will be a fun experience. They laugh and giggle as they steal the peddler’s hats and re-climb the tree. Please click on the video below to see this in action.
The children got a chance to “live” the story - to truly experience what it feels like to be a part of the folk tale they had heard around the fire. They will fondly remember this story for years to come, having experienced it using all of their senses.
After the story, the kids relax around the fire while eating their healthy and hearty snacks, talking quietly to their neighbors. One thing we notice in the woods is that the kids become totally relaxed and their energy levels are better regulated once they are out there. They take as much time as they need to eat and then when they are ready, they slowly start dispersing throughout the woods to play.
Some prefer solitary play and will find trees to climb or hunt for bugs. However, most of the kids will seek out other children and create imaginative play of their own in the woods. The kids may be found building forts and structures and sometimes even societies. I have seen them come up with their own systems of currencies using shells to buy nature bracelets and headbands from each other. Others build traps, play house, make bridges, and put on shows. The options are endless depending on the children that happen to be in camp that week.
TimberNook camps let children have a good chunk of unstructured play everyday because they feel it is essential for their imagination, creativity, social life, and overall well-being. They try to balance out amazing, highly creative and therapeutic activities with down time in beautiful natural locations.
TimberNook is about fostering the whole child in the great outdoors, opening doors for creative thought, and letting kids just be kids. Timbernook Camps offer a unique and exciting opportunity for those with the drive and the passion to make a difference in children's lives.
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