By Jodi TeBoekhorst (Photos by Craig Cerhit)
Environmental School is heading to a new location today, Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. There was a lot of uncertainty and inquiry from our son during the drive up. ‘Where are we going?’ ‘How far do we have to go?’ As we approached, the park he became more intrigued. ‘Cool Mom, I’ve never been up here!’ As we walked towards ‘camp’, ‘I don’t know if I’ll like it here.’ Not realizing there is a vast forest and trails beyond the beautiful open park area he says ‘what can we do here?’ So many questions and so many possibilities await us, even as parents. It is all very exciting.
After the tents were set up, the fire pit arrived to provide us warmth. And is it very nice to have on cold days. Then the yurt pieces arrived and the children worked hard carrying the materials to its location. It was a cold and wet day so all the children went on a walk to map out their new boundaries and go on their first hike to get their circulation pumping and warm up. We hit the Yellow trail. The trails were muddy and slippery in parts but the kids still had an abundance of energy and didn’t seem to mind the terrain. It was great to see the younger children do so well and enjoy their surroundings.
It was recess time upon our return and the floor of the yurt was already built! After recess it was time to embark on another hike to look for the Alouette River (the kids were missing it already!). There was discussion about its connection to Alco Park, how it flows and why we couldn’t see any fish. Along the way, my son asked if we were in Alco Park as the vegetation and forest floor looked very similar. The children were then asked to walk 4 minutes in silence (a very tough task) and hear what the forest was telling them. I realized how many things I missed seeing on the first hike.
We arrived back at camp for lunch and the second truck load of yurt materials had arrived. It was great to have so many eager helpers!
After lunch new games were introduced to keep the kids warm. And before we knew it, the day was done and the walls of the yurt were up. It was a wonderful day despite being cold and wet. My son and I are eager to explore the learning possibilities the forest has to show us.