By Carrie Komesch, Educator
Our Friday school-aged group was having a snack and water break partway through a morning hike. A few students were exploring behind the rocky mossy place and suddenly came rushing back to the group exclaiming–direct quote–
“WE FOUND A PIT WITH SO MUCH NATURE IN IT!”
Their excitement was contagious, and everyone wanted to follow them to their discovery. So as a group we slowly explored the “pit,” which was a steep wooded hillside sloping downwards and scattered with rock piles. The students made note of the changing leaves, the many different aspects of the landscape that could provide homes for small animals, and “a hollow tree with an arrow carved in it!”
As we collectively drew closer to the bottom of this steep hillside, some children again pushed forward and explored ahead… And again, they came rushing back to the group to breathlessly report what they had discovered.
Turns out our cross country meandering had brought us to the edge of a cut field of soy, and the lone worker onsite gave everyone paper bags and told us we could collect anything that had been missed before driving off and leaving us alone.
And the children were thrilled.
I cannot properly convey how captivated (and joyfully so!!) they were. Everything about this field was exactly what they needed to be happy at that moment. At first, they ran. And then, they began to settle, and sat, alone or in groups, picking dried soybeans off the vine. They were SO into it. Everyone had brought a backpack with water and lunch, and the students would interrupt their picking to seek sustenance as needed… Except for one boy, who wouldn’t stop for anything! All he wanted to do was pick soybeans!
I overheard conversations about the insects they were finding, including their theory that an orange grub-like bug was in fact a ladybug that was just coming out of its cocoon and becoming a ladybug for the first time (!).
Probably two hrs later, only a couple students had expressed a waning interest, but our departure was expedited when another person drove up on a tractor and politely told us to leave. (“You can’t be here. How did you even get here? You have to leave.”).
So probably he now has to write an incident report about how two women claiming to be schoolteachers materialized out of the forest with a dozen children who were quiet and well-behaved and came running at the sound of a howl and who, until interrupted, were hard at work picking dried soybeans off the vine as fast as their little fingers could manage. I’m sorry!
On our way back up the hillside to the rocky mossy place, I overheard one student attempting to explain precisely how good his day was.
“So it’s not the best day ever, but it is the best day of Forest School. If we went to Calypso AND Funhaven AND this field, then it would be the actual best day ever.”